Minor party sues over law making it harder to get on ballot

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ALBANY, NY – MARCH 16: The New York State Capitol building is seen March 16, 2008 in Albany, New York. New York State Lt. Gov. David Paterson will be sworn in here on March 17, replacing Gov. Eliot Spitzer who resigned last week in a prostitution scandal.(Photo by Daniel Barry/Getty Images)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A minor political party in New York has sued over a new law approved by political appointees that will make it harder for parties to get on the ballot.

The Serve America Movement Party filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan Tuesday claiming the new requirement violates the public’s constitutional right to create and develop new political parties.

Under the new law, minor parties would have to receive either 2% of total votes or 130,000 votes in a presidential year or 140,000 in a gubernatorial year. Before the new law was passed, minor parties could qualify for the ballot by securing 50,000 votes in the governor’s race.

Lawmakers tasked politically appointed commissioners with drawing up rules that became law in December for an up-to-$100 million system that would match candidates’ fundraising with taxpayer money. The goal is to reduce the role of deep-pocketed donors and corporations who have long held sway in Albany.

Senior advisor to the governor Rich Azzopardi said he hasn’t seen the lawsuit.

“But, as the governor said, if a political party wants access to taxpayer dollars, they should be able to generate a real level of support and I can’t think of a better example,” Azzopardi said.

The lawsuit, first reported by The Albany Times Union, also calls the new law burdensome for forcing the minor party to nominate a presidential candidate to maintain party status.

It’s the latest litigation filed by minor political parties who are critical of parts of the new public campaign funding system, which commissioners delayed four years for state legislative races and six years for statewide races.

“The Constitution forbids a state from compelling a political party to participate in a national election and address nationwide issues in order to speak to statewide issues,” the complaint states.

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