New York’s Libertarian and Green Parties Petition Supreme Court Over New York’s Restrictive Ballot Access Laws
The Supreme Court this week officially docketed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the case Libertarian Party of New York, et al. v. New York State Board of Elections, et al. This means that, sometime after April 17, the Court will decide whether or not to actually hear the case, which challenges a new set of 2020 restrictions on ballot access in New York, arguing they unjustly impact voters’ First and 14th Amendment rights.
A press release from the New York Libertarian Party (NYLP) sums up the tightening of ballot access requirements in its state that led to the lawsuit, in which it is joined by the Green Party of New York: “The threshold for a party to maintain recognized party status and ballot access was increased from 50,000 votes to 130,000 votes or 2% of the vote in the previous gubernatorial or presidential election, whichever is higher.”
This led, the press release points out, to four parties that used to have ballot access in New York suddenly losing it: the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the Independence Party, and the SAM Party. The NYLP press release points out that of the four, only the L.P., whose 2020 presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen got 60,000 votes in the state, would have kept the party’s ballot access under the pre-2020 lower threshold.
The NYLP’s gubernatorial candidate in 2022, Larry Sharpe, failed to make the ballot under the new rules after gathering 42,000 signatures when he needed 3,000 more to make it—meaning, as the NYLP’s press release put it, that Sharpe “actually got more signatures than any other candidate, and yet he was denied a ballot spot due to the increased thresholds for ballot access.” The signatures requirement prior to the challenged 2020 change was just 15,000. The signatures must be gathered in a 42-day window, making it even harder. Thanks to the new tougher signature requirement and threshold for staying a recognized party, New York saw only two candidates on the ballot for governor in 2022, for the first time since 1946.
The new law made getting on the ballot harder in another way as well, as the petition to the Supreme Court pointed out, as it “quintupled its geographic distribution requirement from at least 100 to 500 signatures from voters residing in each of one-half of New York’s congressional districts.”
In the two parties’ Supreme Court petition, they argue that the question of how ballot access requirements should be constitutionally judged should be ripe for Supreme Court reappraisal: “For forty years, this Court has decided constitutional challenges to state election laws by app
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