By Diane Sare
This article will be brief because its author, Diane Sare, LaRouche Independent candidate for U.S. Senate, is tied up in the final two weeks of the signature gathering period for ballot access. As covered in West View News in April, the 2019-2020 New York State Budget arbitrarily, and with malice, changed the ballot access requirements to eliminate independent-minded parties and candidates by tripling the signature requirement for nominating petitions, and also increasing the vote threshold from 50,000 votes every four years to 130,000 votes every two years. This was done after the Libertarian, Green, Independence, and Serve America Parties had all gained ballot status with well over a quarter million votes between them. The Democratic and Republican Parties, and their shadow parties, the Working Families, and Conservative Parties, respectively, do not want any dissenting voices to be allowed to raise pesky issues like nuclear war, universal health care, affordable housing, hyper-inflation of energy costs, and many other important matters, so they are happy to tell over 250,000 New Yorkers that their votes are irrelevant.
Speaking as a candidate, it is evident how the 45,000 signature requirement fulfills the desires of the political incumbents: For six intense weeks, I can do nothing but coordinate dozens of volunteers who are getting thrown out of grocery stores, trying to find covered sites during torrential downpours, quarantining from COVID-19 exposure, and still trying to deliver over 2000 signatures per day of duly registered New York voters. There are other pitfalls as well. If any voter has signed a nominating or designating petition for any other US Senate candidate, even for a primary election, their signature can be disqualified from counting on my petition. It may seem like that is a minor issue, but it happens frequently because so many candidates have to gather such a huge number of signatures that the petitioners seem to find the same busy corners with the maximum traffic flow, and therefore intercept many of the same people.
With so many moving parts and so many picky little details, the candidates have no time to campaign. I have cancelled nearly all other activities. Even though my petitioners are largely volunteers, my campaign has had to rent housing, pay tolls and parking, meals, printing, etc. Just getting the signatures will cost my campaign over $80,000. A Democratic Party strategist from another state estimated that his party would end up spending $400,000 just to get on the ballot. That is money not available for reaching voters through mailings, radio ads, billboards and other media.
The idea that this frankly sadistic requirement of 45,000 signatures demonstrates viability is absurd. If there were hundreds of people wanting to sacrifice their personal lives to run for U.S. Senate perhaps we could worry about “frivolous candidates” but there is no such threat. A nominal requirement of 100 signatures in each of half of New York’s 62 Counties, and/or a filing fee of $1000 would be sufficient to discourage non-serious candidates. The current nearly impossible requirements are clearly designed to prevent anyone from running for office and posing a threat to the incumbent politicians who no longer have to be accountable to the people who elected them because they face no risk of being unseated. This is not what George Washington and Alexander Hamilton intended.