FORMER ELECTIONS CHIEF CALLS ON NYS TO IMPLEMENT DIGITAL BALLOT PETITIONING FOR 2021 ELECTION

Politics

Argues that delayed decision risks lives by forcing political organizers to knock on doors for their candidates

(HARLEM)– Former Manhattan Democratic Chief of the New York City Board of Elections  and  New York City Council District 9 Candidate William Allen released the following statement on the growing momentum to cancel 2021 New York State ballot petitioning:

“Our democratic processes are sacrosanct, and today more than ever they need to be upheld and protected.  Government has a responsibility to lead by taking responsive action to protect the tenets of our democracy during a time of unprecedented crisis.

Early in the pandemic crisis, we saw inaction and denial form the former federal administration and it cost us countless lives.  Delayed decisions put lives at risk!   While Governor Cuomo has been effective in his leadership during these tumultuous times, it is necessary he no longer delays action regarding the 2021 designating petition signature requirements.  The situation with the pandemic is evolving day to day and the fact remains that thousands of lives are lost daily, the vaccine roll out has been unsuccessful and mutated variants of the virus continue to accelerate spread.  The grave fact is that we can not afford to circulate petitions in person because it puts lives at risk.

A coalition of Democratic Clubs, political candidates, grassroots advocacy groups, and community leaders throughout New York, have been working together to circulate and sign a petition urging Governor Cuomo to use his emergency powers by waiving the 2021 designated petition signature requirements and instead allow any candidate who files a cover sheet with the appropriate Board of Elections (BOE) to be on the ballot.  The health and safety of all New Yorkers is most optimal as the coronavirus remains rampant and it is difficult to fully agree with completely waving the 2021 petition signature requirements.   Reducing the designating petition signature requirements is also a problematic option. The risk of exposure to COVID-19 for candidates, constituents, and all those involved in the process is high. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions that even vaccinated individuals can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 as new cases arise each day.

I acknowledge and commend the coalition of Democratic Clubs, political candidates, grassroots advocacy groups, and community leaders throughout New York for being active in the democratic process as they aim to ensure fairness and safety for all voters. The state should consider a digital alternative to the designated petition signature requirements like in New Jersey.

New Jersey and Rhode Island both recently announced the implementation of online designating petitions to reduce the likelihood of campaigns becoming superspreader events; Florida also implemented safety precautions to protect campaigns and constituents “Dozens of elections dating back to 2012 have relied on a digital process.  It becomes a matter of protecting the rule of law knowing how in today’s political climate,  a dangerous precedent would be set with waving any part of our democratic process for any reason.”

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