Libertarian Party and Sare Campaign Find That
Lee Zeldin Independence Party Petition Contained
Over 11,000 Fraudulent Duplicated Signatures
New York's Oppressive Ballot Access Laws: The only way to beat them for an independent line? Cheat.
Background: The Story of New York's Oppressive Ballot Access Laws
2019: Public Campaign Finance Commission
New York’s oppressive ballot access laws that ultimately led to the Lee Zeldin campaign filing fraudulent signatures for an independent line began in 2019, when then-Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Public Finance Commission created a $100 million campaign finance system in New York, where taxpayers would foot the bill for political candidates.
In addition to the public campaign financing, the commission voted to raise the number of votes a political party needed to maintain status as a recognized political party in New York State from 50,000 votes to 135,000 votes or 2%, which ever his higher. The race for Governor was the only ballot-qualifying race until the commission voted to include the Presidential race, and so parties needed to qualify every two years instead of four. See here for further details.
In March 2020, a judge struck down the commission’s actions, indicating that the commission had no authority to create laws.
Early 2020: Ballot Access Changes Slipped into 2020 NYS Budget
In the spring of 2020, the commission’s recommendations were put into the New York State budget and passed by the legislature, becoming law, essentially doing the following:
- Increased the number of votes a political party needed to be a recognized political party in New York State from 50,000 votes to 135,000 votes or 2%, whichever is higher.
- Increased the frequency of a political party to qualify from 4 years to 2 years, adding the Presidential election as a ballot access qualifying race.
- Increased the number of signatures a political party needed to get a candidate on the ballot from 15,000 to 45,000.
- Increased the number of signatures an independent candidate needed in half of the Congressional districts from 100 to 500.
Late 2020: General Election, Parties Lose Status
As a result of the 2020 election, the Libertarian, Green, Independence, and SAM Parties lost ballot access. This left the Democrat, Republican, Conservative, and Working Families remaining as the only four recognized parties.
The Working Families Party usually endorses the Democrat Party’s candidate while the Conservative Party usually endorses the Republican Party’s candidate, essentially killing off third parties as recognized political parties in New York State, requiring them to meet higher thresholds for qualification.
2022: Petitioning Drive
In 2022, petition drives for the race for Governor of New York began. There were several candidates running for Governor. The following is a list of candidates and the number of signatures needed to get on the ballot.
- 0 Signatures Needed. Kathy Hochul (nominated by the Democratic Party), Lee Zeldin (nominated by the Republican and Conservative Parties), and Jumaane Williams (nominated by the Working Families Party). Williams was replaced by Kathy Hochul on the Working Families’ line.
- 15,000 Signatures Needed to be on the Primary Ballot (recognized political parties). Harry Wilson, Andrew Giuliani, and Rob Astorino (Republican Party); Jumaane Williams and Thomas Suozzi (Democratic Party). All five of these candidates lost their respective primaries to Hochul and Zeldin.
- 45,000 Signatures Needed to be on the General Election Ballot (unrecognized political parties). Larry Sharpe (Libertarian), Lee Zeldin (Independence), Harry Wilson (Unite), Skiboky Stora (Freedom), Carol Seidelman (New Visions), and Howie Hawkins (Green). All seven of these candidates were ruled off the ballot by the New York State Board of Elections.
The following conclusions are a result of this:
- The only candidates who will be on the November 2022 general election ballot for Governor are Kathy Hochul and Lee Zeldin. Neither of them had to collect signatures to get on their respective lines, Hochul for Democrat and Working Families, and Zeldin for Republican and Conservative.
- Lee Zeldin’s attempt to get on the Independence Party line, due to the magnitude of the increased threshold, was only possible through cheating; but he was caught, objected to, challenged, and thrown off the Independence Party line. This website provides documents and goes into detail into these petitions.
Independence Party Petitions: What Happened?
- May 31, 2022. Petitions were filed in the New York State Board of Elections for the “Independence Party.” The slate of statewide candidates consisted of all the candidates who were on the Republican Party slate: Lee Zeldin for Governor, Alison Esposito for Lt. Governor, Paul Rodriguez for Comptroller, Michael Henry for Attorney General, and Joe Pinion for U.S. Senator.
- June 1, 2022. Officials in the Libertarian Party of New York and volunteers associated with the Diane Sare for U.S. Senate campaign began examining the Zeldin Independence Party petitions. While members of the Libertarian Party examined the scanned pages, it was noted that some of the pages were duplicates. Volunteers with the Sare campaign examined the Zeldin Independence Party petitions at the New York State Board of Elections and noticed that the duplicates were photocopies.
- June 3, 2022. Three General Objections were filed with the New York State Board of Elections challenging the Zeldin Independence Party petitions: Andrew Kolstee (see document), Carson trumpet (see document), and David Galin (see document). Per Election Law, general objections can be followed up by specific objections.
- June 3-8, 2022. Over the course of the weekend and early the following week, members of the Libertarian Party and volunteers associated with the Sare campaign began compiling specific objections. On Monday, June 6 and Tuesday, June 7, the physical copies of the Zeldin Independence petitions were examined and a tally of the photocopies was established for the final specific objections.
- June 9, 2022. Specific objections (see document) were filed by Libertarian Party of New York Secretary Andrew Kolstee and mailed to the New York State Board of Elections.
- June/July 2022. The Zeldin Independence Party petitions passed a prima facie review. Subsequently, the petitions were examined by the staff at the New York State Board of Elections, which corroborated the findings from the Libertarian Party and Sare campaign. See the NYSBOE staff worksheets below for the documents. In Volumes 38-47, where the photocopies are contained, staff members would write “photocopy” across the entire sheet when they determined that it was a photocopy.
- July 8, 2022. The New York State Board of Elections scheduled a hearing (see document) in regard to the Zeldin Independence Party petitions. The hearing was held on Monday, July 11, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
- July 11, 2022. On the day of the hearing, no representatives of the Zeldin campaign were present. Objector Andrew Kolstee was present along with other Libertarian party officials and volunteers associated with the Sare campaign. During the hearing, an additional 51 signatures were deducted from Zeldin’s total. The New York State Board of Elections published a final document, updating the staff worksheet (see document).
- July 12, 2022. The New York State Board of Elections Commissioners made a final determination at their meeting. This was published and released, invalidating the Zeldin Independence petitions (see document).
Examination of the Photocopies / Duplicates
The following are worksheets associated with examination of the photocopies and duplicates.
The original copies of the petitions are scattered throughout the volumes. This document shows Andrew Kolstee’s initial examination of the Zeldin Independence Party petitions, with several photocopies and their corresponding original page in an earlier volume. This is merely a sample of not even 100. In this sample, the photocopies are duplicates of sheets found in volumes 1, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31, 32, 36, 43, 44, and 45.
The sheet numbers of the photocopies are different from the original copies. The petitions also need to be numbered in their volumes. The photocopies contain different sheet numbers, which means the photocopying occurred before the numbering of the sheets.
Here is an example of some of the duplicate petitions side-by-side.
It is clear that the Zeldin Independence Party petitions were received in one place, with over 900 sheets photocopied, and mixed into the last several volumes with original sheets. After this, the entire petition was placed into volumes and sheets were numbered.
Further updates to the website will be added as the petitions continue to be analyzed.
The Bigger Story: New York State Oppressive Ballot Laws
The bigger store to all of this is New York State’s Oppressive Ballot Laws. In 2020, under the New York State budget, laws were passed that increased the threshold for an independent party to become an officially recognized party under Election law from 50,000 votes to 130,000 votes or 2%, whichever is higher. As a result of the 2020 election, the Libertarian, Green, and SAM Parties lost ballot access. This left the Democrat, Republican, Conservative, and Working Families remaining as the only four recognized parties. The Conservative Party usually endorses the Republican candidate while the Working Families Party usually endorses the Democrat candidate… essentially leaving only TWO parties in New York state, along with their “pawn parties” to give candidates extra lines.
This effectively prevents third party candidates from getting on the ballot.
Another new threshold from the 2022 law was that independent bodies needed more signatures to get on the ballot in a six-week period: from 15,000 signatures to 45,000 signatures. This petitioning period was also shifted to earlier in the year, before many fairs and festivals in which petition gathers go to for signatures. Note that the Democrat Party, having recognized ballot status, endorsed Kathy Hochul, who required ZERO signatures to get on the ballot. The Republican Party, in the same manner, endorsed Lee Zeldin, who required ZERO signatures to get on the ballot. Their primary opponents needed 15,000 signatures to get on the ballot, but the larger unfairness in New York’s oppressive ballot access laws is that any other candidate required 45,000 signatures to get on the ballot.
There were seven candidates who attempted this in 2022 and even Harry Wilson (Unite Party), a multi-millionaire, could not reach the threshold. Lee Zeldin, a sitting Congressman and the Republican Party’s pick for Governor, could only reach the threshold by cheating.
This demonstrates that the increase of the ballot access thresholds was meant to prevent parties other than the Democrat and Republican Parties from having a candidate on the ballot, effectively killing third parties in New York State.