(AP) — On July 3, Dr. Josh Eisen, an independent candidate for Congress in New York’s 17th district, filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, alleging that Cuomo has placed unconstitutional and dangerous obstacles to independent candidate ballot access for November’s general election. The lawsuit notes that in the midst of a global pandemic, Cuomo is compelling independent candidates to collect signatures in-person, which must be handwritten in ink and witnessed.
The action also challenges the State’s disproportionate treatment of independent candidates with respect to such signature requirements when compared to the requirements of major party candidates.
On March 30, the Governor issued an Executive Order suspending all petition circulation for independent candidates due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
This was preceded by a March 13 Executive Order, in which Cuomo reduced the signature requirements by 70% for major party candidates seeking to qualify for party primaries.
However, on June 30, Governor Cuomo issued yet another Executive Order, in which he reduced independent candidate signature requirements by only 30%, far less than the major party candidate reduction, despite the fact that the reductions were both issued pursuant to the same health risks presented by the pandemic.
This means that Dr. Eisen and other independent congressional candidates throughout the state are currently required to collect 2,450 in-person, witnessed signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
In 10 a.m. Zoom meeting on Thursday, Gary Greenberg, who is petitioning to get on the ballot as an Independent for 46th state senate district—which covers all of Montgomery and Greene County, plus parts of Albany, Schenectady, and Ulster Counties—will also push for the issue to be reexamined.
Greenberg says he was kicked off the Democratic primary ballot in June after the acting state Supreme Court Justice upheld a state Board of Elections ruling that 37 of his signatures were invalid, leaving him nine signatures short to qualify for the ballot. Now he is trying to draw attention to his struggle to be recognized as an Independent candidate.
“The Governor’s order set the new requirements at seven times the amount needed for independent line over a party line, Greenberg says. “The governor’s executive orders clearly favor party line candidates.”