If there is such thing as a qualifications test to see if someone is ready for the challenges of elected office, it’s the ballot nomination process.
As with practically everything in New York, the government makes getting on the ballot a bureaucratic challenge, particularly for those seeking to challenge incumbents and those not supported by the political party leadership.
Schenectady City Council candidate Damoni Farley found that out the hard way on Wednesday when the county Board of Elections invalidated 480 signatures out of the more than 1,100 he’d gathered to help him force a Democratic Party primary.
One might argue that there should be few or no barriers to accessing the ballot. But that’s not entirely practical or desirable. If you didn’t have any standards, then you’d have a giant list of non-serious candidates on the ballot who have little or no voter support, diluting the ballot and confusing voters.
Requiring a potential candidate to either appear before party leadership or to go around town gathering signatures demonstrates the candidate’s commitment to his or her election effort, the potential to get votes, and a basic knowledge of the political process. It also proves one can read and follow instructions, a basic qualifications for office.
Yes, the process for obtaining voter signatures on nominating petitions to qualify for the ballot is a challenge in New York, and there are a specific set of rules that one must read and remember.
But while the petition process is cumbersome, it’s not insurmountable, even for inexperienced or lightly funded candidates.
The state Board of…
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