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Scramble For Signatures As Candidates Seek To Get On Ballot

by Gotham Gazette Staff, Jul 09, 2013

It’s not just Eliot Spitzer who is facing a deadline to get on the ballot for the primary election in September.

Candidates across the city are racing to get petitions signed and delivered to the city’s Board of Elections before the deadline on Thursday.

City Council candidates must collect a minimum of 450 signatures to get on the ballot, and candidates running for citywide office must collect a minimum of 3,750 signatures.

A common trick is that candidates will petition with other candidates who endorse them. For example, Comptroller John Liu, who is running for mayor, is also on 48th Council District candidate Ari Kagan’s petition forms. That means anyone who signs Kagan’s petition is also signing John Liu’s petition. Voters can only sign one petition for each office.

Once the signatures are all collected, candidates then must file the signatures with the BOE, which has set dates and times when they will accept signatures from candidates starting July 8 at 9 a.m.

Signatures can then be contested.

"Anyone could object to signatures," said BOE spokeswoman Valerie Vasquez. “Someone could object because a particular voter’s signature doesn’t match. Or they could object because the person was not registered to vote at the date of the signature."

The last date to file objections is July 15.

A panel of 10 people — five Republicans and five Democrats — will then assess the objections.

Hypothetically speaking, Vasquez said, if someone running for mayor has 4,000 votes — and someone objects to 500 signatures and it turns out those signatures are not valid — the candidate is then “below the threshold" and won’t make it on the ballot.

Once a candidate files his or her petitions, they then become public information. Anyone can look through the petitions and object to the signatures.

The primary is on September 20.

Latima Stephens

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