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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Green Party Gets Official Ballot Status

There should be at least one new, officially-recognized political party in New York starting in 2011. The Green Party's gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins was within ten votes of crossing the magic 50,000 vote requirement under New York's Election Law. Reaching that number will allow the Green Party to become an official "party," which means the party can run candidates on its line in all elections in the state for the next four years.

This is a big deal. Without official party status, someone wanting to run as a "Green Party" candidate for Congress would need 3,500 signatures (from any registered voter who didn't sign another petition for that race). With official party status, that candidate would need only the lesser of 1,250 signatures or signatures equal to five percent of the party's enrollment in the district. As a new party would only start to gain enrolled members when it becomes official, one can presume that the number of enrolled members would be fairly small -- let's assume a few hundred at most (it may be closer to a few dozen). That candidate might only need a handful of signatures -- single digits perhaps -- to get on the ballot.

That's a far cry from 3,500. That's much, much easier for a candidate to achieve. Especially without money.

Now you can see why the third parties value official party status so much.

Surprisingly it seems other parties did not fare well. The Libertarian Warren Redlich may hit the 50,000 mark, and may come close enough that a legal challenge on the basis of votes allegedly denied or discouraged because of technical problems with the new scanner voting machines may be worthwhile.

Stay tuned.

About the author: Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who has represented about two dozen candidates in election law matters since first starting as a petition coordinator for Ross Perot in 1992. Mr. Dixon is a 1994 graduate of Yale Law School and offers world-class strategic analysis and litigation stress management counseling. He represents clients on business and strategic matters, disputes and negotiations. He is available for comment or consultation to prospective clients at 917-696-2442 and accepts inquiries at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com).


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