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NYC Elections Board censors “Rent is Too Damn High” ballot label

from Ballot Access News
New York City Elections Board Censors
“Rent is Too Damn High” Ballot Label

October 7th, 2009

New York, and half the other states, permit independent candidates to choose a partisan label that may be printed on the ballot next to the independent candidate’s name. The other states confine independent candidates to just the word “independent.”

In 2005, Jimmy McMillan ran as an independent candidate for Mayor of New York city, with the ballot label “Rent is Too Damn High.” This year, McMillan again petitioned successfully for a place on the ballot, and he asked for the same label. But the New York City Board of Elections told him his label cannot be longer than 15 letters. When he didn’t respond, the Board on its own motion printed “Rent is Too High.” McMillan is asking the Board to change that to “Rent is 2 Damn High”, but since the absentee ballots have already been printed, the Board will probably refuse to alter the label. See this New York Times story.


  1. Morgan Brykein Morgan Brykein October 7, 2009

    I thought they would have a problem with “damn,” but I guess not.

  2. Third Party Revolution Third Party Revolution October 8, 2009

    That’s what many people are saying. But that was the case for McMillan’s 2006 run for Governor.

  3. Kimberly Wilder Kimberly Wilder October 8, 2009


    I do not understand your comment.

    They probably do have a problem with the word “damn”. That is why, when the BOE made the decision to cut the words, they cut “damn” instead of changing “two” to “2”, or leaving out the spaces or something.

    The government does not want anyone “exclaiming”, as if things are really bad.

  4. Nate Nate October 8, 2009


    actually I thought they solved the problem fairly well. (Assuming that having party affiliations longer than 15 letters is a justifiable “problem”.)

    He was told to shorten the name, he refused. If they have to change it for him, I think the way it was done makes the most sense.

    Changing “too” to “2” makes it sound like a 13 year old girl’s love letter and/or a Jewel song. Removing the spaces makes it illegible. They could have just stripped off the end down to 15 letters: “Rent is Too Damn Hi”, which actually also would have conveyed the message, but also makes it look like the man can’t spell.

    “Rent is Too High” means the same exact thing as “Rent is Too Damn High”, if we only examine what meaning the sentence has, without going for emotion.

    And frankly, if he didn’t want *them* to change it, he should have either protested it or offered a change of his own. Just ignoring things doesn’t make them go away.

    I really think 3rd parties should pick their fights, and this isn’t a good one.

  5. citizen1 citizen1 October 8, 2009

    The spaces are not counted just the letters. This make me wonder about the ‘rule’. One fifteen letter word use about 25% less space than five three letter words. When was this ‘rule’ put in place?

  6. Third Party Revolution Third Party Revolution October 9, 2009

    Probably with the rent being too damn high right now, McMillan is going to have his highest amounts of votes ever.

  7. Vaughn Vaughn October 9, 2009

    So you can say the F word twice in a PG-13 movie these days, but use the word “Damn” on a ballot that only 18+ year-old (voters) will see is too racy?

    This would be a good Supreme Court case…

  8. Third Party Revolution Third Party Revolution October 10, 2009

    And speaking of that clip Dave, they don’t mention him as a candidate for NY Mayor. Instead, they just call him a Manhattan resident. And I could also see some Frances Villar for Mayor signs in the audience, showing a sign that people are getting fed up with the two major parties.

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