You are reading

Hearing Held Over Lawsuit Challenging Ballot Requirements

Petition Signing Pre-COVID Photo: Alan Chan (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Feb. 22, 2021 By Christina Santucci

A Supreme Court justice is now weighing in on a lawsuit brought by more than 100 political candidates and their supporters — asking that the requirements to collect in-person signatures to get on the ballot be waived.

State Supreme Court Justice Frank P. Nervo presided over a hearing about the suit Monday, and said he plans to issue his ruling “as expeditiously as possible.”

  • Petitioning to be on the ballot, which entails collecting signatures on designating petitions, is currently scheduled to start March 2, and those petitions have to be filed with the Board of Elections from March 22 to 25.

Political candidates must collect a threshold of signatures depending on which office they are running for, but they typically gather many more than needed in case the signatures are challenged by their opponents.

State officials reduced the number of signatures needed by about 70 percent in January — so mayoral candidates now need a minimum of 2,500. City Council candidates are now required to collect 270 signatures from registered voters who live in the district in order to appear on the ballot.

But a group of candidates said the lowered threshold still puts people at risk of spreading COVID-19, and filed a lawsuit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio Feb. 8.

Council member Jimmy Van Bramer, who is running for Queens borough president, as well as 11 candidates seeking Queens council seats are among the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit argues that the requirement to gather in-person signatures is unconstitutional, claiming that it puts people’s health at risk. The suit asks the court to direct state and city officials to figure out an “alternative, constitutionally sound method” for candidates to be placed on the ballot.

On Monday, attorney and Manhattan Council candidate Arthur Schwartz presented their case during a virtual hearing. He argued that as many as 1,000 political candidates citywide may want to gather signatures this year, leading to numerous in person interactions.

“There is no way that you can collect petitions and stay six feet away from someone else,” he said.

Assistant Attorney General Eva L. Dietz represented Cuomo, and Stephen Kitzinger, senior counsel in the New York City Law Department, appeared on behalf of de Blasio.

Schwartz suggested that petitioning could be done virtually, or officials could certify candidates who had reached the threshold needed to receive matching funds from the city’s Campaign Finance Board.

In a back-and-forth discussion, Justice Nervo questioned Schwartz about whether signatures could be gathered in person safely, citing protective measures that are used in banks and stores.

“There are ways for people to protect themselves during these short interactions,” he said.

Schwartz responded that safety measures would burden candidates, and the requirements — as is — would force each candidate and their supporters to approach hundreds of people.

“That’s a lot more than going to the store to buy bananas,” he said.

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Popular places where you can watch the Super Bowl in Queens

Feb. 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

Hey, football fans! Game time is fast approaching, and across the city and here in Queens, you can feel the excitement brewing as the two teams prepare to take the field on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 12. So, kick back and watch the big game, and don’t miss Rihanna’s exciting performance during halftime. 

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Op-Ed: This Year’s State Budget Must Prioritize Climate, Jobs, and Justice for New York

Op-Ed, Jan. 30, By Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

In a time of rampant economic inequality and environmental injustice, it is easy to feel defeated.  Here in Queens and across New York State, however, communities are organizing for a better future. New Yorkers from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences are proving that we can build community, organize, and create a future that reflects our shared values.

LaGuardia Community College receives federal funding to expand vocational training for the unemployed

Jan. 27, 2023 By Bill Parry

LaGuardia Community College recently received more than $400,000 in federal funding to enhance and expand vocational training for underemployed New Yorkers in a city that is still working to recover from COVID-19 pandemic-induced job loss. The support was secured by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and former Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.