New Yorkers: Do You Want Your Elections Bought, or Would You Prefer Them To Be Free?

New Yorkers: Do You Want Your Elections Bought, or Would You Prefer Them To Be Free?

(Oct. 24, 2021)—It’s difficult not to gag when looking at the “reforms” of the New York State elections that have been passed through the state legislature this past year. For years, if not decades, the ballot access requirements structure in New York elections has been known as the most corrupt in the nation, rivaling 1960s Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi for bias against independent candidates. If, however, anyone thought that the recent national donnybrook over “full ballot access for all” would have dampened New York’s penchant for corruption, they were wrong.

New York State is now increasing its prohibitions against independent candidates. The twisted, and perhaps marijuana-inspired logic apparently at work goes something like this: although anyone over 18 can vote and should do so, only those selected by a “legitimate party organization” should be “encouraged”—that is, allowed—to qualify for ballot status. “Everybody can vote, but nobody can run, except the pre-approved.” So, everyone can go to the ice cream store, but the only flavor served is vanilla, with a choice of two different cones.

At exactly the moment that dissatisfaction with both the Republican and Democratic parties is at an all-time high, New York State petitioning requirements (that have been unchanged for decades) are being tripled for independent candidates, from 15,000 to 45,000 signatures. What’s the reason? Did the state’s population triple? No; actually New York went from 19,378,102 in 2010, to 20,215,751 in 2020, a change of less than 1 million persons, and less than 5%. Why were the signatures tripled?

The rationalization for this decidedly un-democratic action is that “frivolous candidates” must be kept from ballot access because the state has decided, in the interest of “assisting legitimate candidates in offsetting the influence of big money in the elections(!)” to offer matching funds to all candidates that qualify. If you keep the requirements the same, it is argued, then the state will have to spend a lot of money on candidates that, clearly, “no one really wants to vote for,” despite the fact that at least 15,000 voters are required to sign their petitions. So, triple the requirements.

But wait. In the case of the United States Senate race, the requirements to run for office have also been tripled, but no matching funds are being offered for that race whatsoever! There is no way that this could have been merely overlooked in the rewrite of the ballot access requirements. If, indeed, such an “oversight” occurred, it shows the “depraved indifference” with which the entire process of elections is increasingly treated, both throughout the United States, and in New York State and New York City in particular (remember the “rank miscounting” of the New York City primary vote by Mayor “Doobie” De Blasio’s Board of Elections?).

Former Governor Andrew Cuomo is being blamed by many for this, and perhaps he should be. Yet these changes were passed into law by the state, despite the responsible objections of some lawmakers. And this leaves out the equally prohibitive period of time allotted for the collection of signatures—five weeks—which has not been tripled, to allow for compliance, although the number of signatures required was. New York State also demands that the petitioning be done before June, a discriminatory practice that has been declared unconstitutional in a number of states. For example, if the present New York State law was in effect here in 1856, the Republican Party, which was formed in July, 1856 to oppose the threatened extension of slavery into Kansas and Nebraska, could not have come into existence!

New York, and the nation, deserve independent candidates, with independent ideas and solutions. How can we lecture any country in the world about “free and equal elections” when New York State embarrasses America with Politburo-like “selections,” not elections, to “save money?” If you oppose depraved indifference, corruption, and duplicity in politics, join me in insisting that these arbitrary changes be vacated, and that the integrity of America’s electoral process be preserved.