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Third Parties Push Back In New York Governor’s Race

New York voters may see only two candidates for governor on their election ballot for the first time in nearly 75 years. Still, the excluded Green and Libertarian Party candidates are pushing to have their voices heard.

Earlier this summer, Larry Sharpe of the Libertarian Party, Howie Hawkins of the Green Party, and the UniteNY, Freedom, and New Visions Parties were denied ballot access after a 2020 change in the state law led to increased signature requirements while limiting petitioning periods. The Green and Libertarian Parties met this denial with swift resistance and then sued the New York State Board of Elections to get on the ballot.

Larry Sharpe and the Libertarian Party made final closing arguments in the New York state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division this past Friday afternoon. Joining them in Albany was Gary Donoyan, who has served as Larry Sharpe’s legal counsel. 

“Regardless of the petition, if it appears to bear the requisite number of signatures, they are obliged, by New York Election Law, for it to be valid,” Donoyan said. “New York law says if it’s on the page, [the Board of Elections] is not going to take a look at it.”

In their arguments, Sharpe and Donoyan state that the Sharpe campaign submitted a petition with 5,200 pages and ten signatures on each page, well over the 45,000 signature requirement. The state Board of Elections contests that only 42,356 signatures of those submitted were valid. The Sharpe campaign then asserted that the state Board of Elections failed to follow state law correctly when they counted signatures without filing proof of the specific objections.

Larry Sharpe (left) and Howie Hawkins on The Sharpe Way w/ Larry Sharpe. Episode aired on 8/26/2019.

Without such evidence, the campaign asserts that it satisfied the initial requirement of submitting petitions appearing to bear the required number of signatures. They additionally argue that the changes to the law implemented by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo leaves ballot access “impossible” for third-party candidates and constitutes a First Amendment violation. 

The state Board of Elections maintains that its decision not to hold hearings with the candidates and their objectors present is irrelevant when the petition has insufficient numbers of signatures to begin. The court is expected to decide on the Sharpe campaign’s appeal sometime next week.

Howie Hawkins, who along with the Green Party has also challenged the state Board of Elections with similar legal proceedings, restated his decision to move forward with a write-in campaign on local media. Hawkins’ official campaign site also affirms his intention to remain a candidate if he ultimately does not appear on the ballot.

Hawkins denounced the decision to keep him off the ballot, drawing attention to the increase from 5,000 signatures to 45,000 to get on the ballot and 50,000 votes to 130,000 to maintain ballot access for the next cycle. He is still moving forward with his campaign, however. He insists that he can appeal to enough voters with a progressive agenda, including support for Medicare for All and the adoption of ranked-choice voting.

Hawkins, who ran as the 2020 Green Party presidential nominee and in several previous New York elections, is joined on the campaign trail by Gloria Mattera, a New York City public hospital worker involved in several social advocacy movements.

Howie Hawkins (left) and Gloria Mattera. Photo courtesy of the official Hawkins/Mattera campaign website.

Polling released last week by the Trafalgar Group, a national opinion polling and survey company, shows Larry Sharpe at just over two percent of the vote in a hypothetical election. Howie Hawkins has yet to be included in recent polling.

While the New York Green and Libertarian Parties are fighting for a chance at inclusion, not every third party in the state feels the same sense of urgency.

For example, the Working Families Party deliberately changed its endorsement to the incumbent Democratic ticket of Gov. Kathy Hochul and Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado after its initial choice of candidates failed to win the Democratic primary. Meanwhile, the New York Conservative Party endorsed Republican Lee Zeldin in late February. The Conservative and Working Families Parties are the only two parties currently recognized under New York law besides the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Zeldin was also going to appear on the ballot under the Independence Party line but, in a twist, was removed when he also failed to meet signature requirements. State Democratic Party leadership is now calling for an investigation after his nomination petitions were discovered to have been assembled and bound at the state Republican Party headquarters in Albany.

The last gubernatorial election in New York featuring only two candidates was the 1946 race between Republican Thomas E. Dewey and Democrat James M. Mead. During that election, the Liberal and American Labor Parties instead gave their ballot lines to Mead.

About Post Author

Jordan Willow Evans

Jordan is the managing editor for Independent Political Report. She has appeared on ABC News, NBC Boston, Sky News, BNT 1, and numerous local outlets. She is a proponent of civic inclusion and awareness and was featured in Represent: The Woman’s Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World and the Worcester Historical Museum exhibit PRETTY POWERFUL: 100 Years of Voting & Style.

2 Comments

  1. Richard Winger Richard Winger September 12, 2022

    The reason only the two major party gubernatorial candidates were on the ballot in 1946 is because the Democrats successfully challenged the petitions of the Socialist, Socialist Labor, and Socialist Workers Parties.

  2. Andy Andy September 10, 2022

    The number of days for minor party and independent candidates in New York staid the same as it was before, which is 6 weeks, or 42 days. They just moved the petition circulating period from July-August to April-May, and they tripled the number of valid signatures from 15,000 valid signatures to 45,000 valid signatures. It is the tripling of the signature requirement, while not increasing the circulating time period, that was really bad.

    45,000 valid signatures in 6 weeks is unreasonably difficult. This is one of the worst ballot access laws in the country.

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