New York is one of a handful of states that still requires all candidates — incumbents and challengers — to file petitions with voter signatures to secure a place on the ballot. Those petitions have to comply with a complicated list of requirements for the signatures to be considered valid.
This has turned the whole petition process into a political blood sport. Candidates with experienced election lawyers can bump many of their rivals off the ballot by challenging the validity of their opponents’ petition signatures, disqualifying the signatures from the candidates’ total signature count. These errors can include unclear handwriting, or the absence of a zip code or borough.