Unite NY Calls for Changes to Ballot Access Requirements to Give Voters a Greater Voice

With the Court of Appeals Throwing Out Partisan and Unconstitutional District Lines, 2022 Election is in Disarray; NYS Should Not Compound This by Disenfranchising Independent Voters

Albany, NY – In the wake of the historic Court of Appeals ruling that threw out the partisan and unconstitutionally gerrymandered New York State Senate and Congressional district lines, non-partisan Unite NY is calling on the State Legislature to take action to reduce ballot access thresholds.

With chaos reigning supreme due to the Court rightly chastising illegal partisan actions, it is only fair that the Legislature enact special legislation to reduce the number and type of signatures required for an independent body to get a candidate on the ballot for Governor.

Unite NY is committed to creating a statewide ballot line this fall to give a voice to the 3.5 million independent New York voters currently shut out of the primary process and will circulate petitions to provide a bipartisan slate of legislative candidates an additional line to run on in the November election.  However, yesterday’s court action has made that a nearly insurmountable challenge, as Senate and Congressional Districts will now be redrawn while Unite’s team is circulating those petitions.

This circumstance will make it harder for candidates for Senate running on an independent line to secure appropriate signatures, while also making it harder to meet the arduous minimum of signatures per Congressional district currently required to petition a candidate for Governor on the ballot.  Unite NY implores the Legislature to enact special legislation reduce signature minimums by 50% this year only. 

Given the circumstances, a more fair approach to independent designating petitions would be as follows:

  • Reduce the minimum number of signatures for candidates for Governor from 45,000 to 27,500.
  • Change the geographically-driven signature component from 500 in each of half of Congressional districts to 100 signatures from 1/3 of Counties.
  • Reduce the minimum number of signatures for candidates for Senate from 3000 to 1500.
  • Extend the petitioning window from 6 weeks to 9 weeks to allow for more time due to changing district lines so late in the election cycle process.

For decades, the standard for establishing statewide ballot access in New York was already significant – 15,000 signatures, including at least 100 from each of at least half of the State’s Congressional districts.  However, in 2020, legislation cloaked as COVID relief and passed in the middle of the night, former Governor Cuomo shepherded through a measure that TRIPLED this standard.  That legislation increased minimums to 45,000 signatures and 500 from half of the Congressional districts, in what others reported as an effort to hurt the Working Families Party.

Unite NY cites a focus of putting people over politics, with the organization prioritizing leaders stating their support for important reforms such as Open Primaries, Ranked Choice Voting, Initiative and Referendum, Term Limits, and Vote from Home. These reform issues have been noted regularly as vital to fixing a broken system by a majority of New York voters through Unite’s Voter Empowerment Index, independent polling conducted by John Zogby Strategies.

Unite NY Founder Martin Babinec said, “We’re grateful the Court of Appeals has thrown out this blatantly illegal and unfair approach to partisan gerrymandering but implore the Legislature to act to ensure fairness for ballot access. We are working diligently to secure the unnecessarily high petitioning threshold established by the two-party duopoly, but the uncertainty makes a difficult task nearly impossible.  We will continue to fight for Unite NY’s key priorities such as ethics reform, a stronger economy and a more inclusive democracy that opens the primary process to 3.5 million voters who are currently excluded but need the Legislature to act now to ensure every New Yorker’s voice is heard in this election.”

About Unite NY

Unite NY is a new political home in New York State for Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, and independents to come together to seek common sense solutions.  Focused on a non-partisan approach to fixing real problems in our government, democracy, and economy, Unite NY supports candidates who understand working together is the only way we can succeed.  Learn more at www.UniteNY.org.