The Supreme Court this week officially registered a motion in writ for certiorari in the matter New York Libertarian Party, et al. vs. New York State Board of Elections, et al. This means that sometime after April 17, the Court will decide whether to hear the case, which challenges a new set of 2020 restrictions on access to the ballot in New York, arguing that they have an unfair impact. on voter rights to the First and 14th Amendments.
A Press release of the New York Libertarian Party (NYLP) summarizes the hardening of the conditions of access to the ballot boxes in his State which led to the lawsuit, in which he is joined by the Green Party of New York: “The threshold for a party to retain the recognized party status and access to the ballot went from 50,000 votes against 130,000 votes or 2% of the vote in the previous gubernatorial or presidential election, whichever is greater. »
This led, the press release points out, to four parties that had access to the ballot 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 LP, whose 2020 presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen won 60,000 votes in the state, would have kept party ballot access below the threshold. lower than before 2020.
2022 NYLP gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe failed to vote under the new rules after garnering 42,000 signatures when he needed 3,000 more to do so, meaning , as the NYLP press release put it, that Sharpe “actually got more signatures than any other candidate, and yet he was denied a ballot because of the increased thresholds for accessing the poll.” The requirement for signatures before the disputed 2020 change was only 15,000. Signatures must be collected within a 42-day window, which makes it even more difficult. Thanks to the new, stricter signature requirement and threshold to remain a recognized party, New York saw just two candidates on the ballot for governor in 2022, for the first time since 1946.
The new law has also made voter registration more difficult in another way, as the petition to the Supreme Court pointed out, as it “has quintupled its geographic distribution requirement of at least 100 to 500 voter signatures residing in each of half of New York’s congressional districts.”
In the two parties’ petition to the Supreme Court, they argue that the question of how ballot access requirements should be judged constitutionally should be ripe for reevaluation by the Supreme Court: “For forty years this Court has decided constitutional challenges to state election laws by applying the Anderson decision – Burdick’s analysis developed in Anderson v.
Celebrate…(1983), and developed in Burdick vs. Takushi….(1992). Yet in several
important cases, the Court suggested that the analysis be more deferential to States. This has caused confusion among and within federal circuits, as the Court recognized 15 years ago in the fragmented opinion of Crawford. From Crawfordthe confusion among the lower courts has only deepened.”
Basically, the Anderson-Burdick analysis should require, as the petition cites andersonthat the Court “identify and assess the precise interests put forward by the State to justify” the charges, then “determine the legitimacy and strength of each of these interests”, and “seriously consider the extent to which these interests are necessary to weigh on the plaintiff’s rights.”
The NYLP’s petition to the Supreme Court argues that the lower courts have failed to do enough in this challenge to New York’s laws. As the third parties argue, the lower courts simply “accepted the justifications advanced by the state at an abstract level of analysis – however weak or pretextual they may be in their specifics – and simply found the thresholds ‘consistent’, ‘rational’, ‘reasonable’, and ‘warranted under ‘entirely deferential’ scrutiny.'”
The state got away with arguing that the charges could not be too heavy since two small parties were abiding by the new 2020 rules, the Day of working families and the Conservative party. But as the petition argues, these are fusion evenings who simply nominate the same candidates as Democrats and Republicans, respectively, and therefore represent no real voter choice.
The petition also argues that Governor Andrew Cuomo, who pushed through the new laws, pretty much admitted to the media that his goal was “to weed out all parties except what he considered ‘legitimate’ parties.” and that “thresholds were introduced by Governor
Cuomo and passed within days as part of an emergency pandemic budget bill that the legislature was unable to seriously debate or defeat.”
Overall, the Libertarian and Green parties argue that the new requirements are unduly harsh and serve no real legitimate state interest, intended simply to secure a monopoly on ballot access for Democrats and Republicans. (A district court reviewing the challenge earlier found, instead, that the new restrictions “ensure that candidates on ballots have a ‘minimum’ of support, helping to maintain an organized and clean ballot. to avoid voter confusion and frustration; to avoid fraudulent and frivolous candidacies; and to contribute to the maintenance of an efficient public finance system.”)
The petition indicates that the Supreme Court must intervene because in anderson “the Court recognized that state legislatures had no incentive to consider the interests of minor parties and that ‘greater judicial scrutiny’ was appropriate… But subsequent rulings have undermined this conclusion, leading to confusion and conflicting rulings among the lower courts.” According to the NYLP, hearing this case is a chance to remedy this problem, including many complex wrinkles detailed in the motion regarding the confusing and often contradictory ways in which the Anderson-Burdick analysis has been applied by other courts. lower to assess the charges on access to the ballot.
Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access Newsoffered in an e-mail to Raison on the case that the Supreme Court should revert to a standard established in previous cases, 1974 Storer v. Brown and 1977 Mandel versus Bradleyin which, broadly speaking, restrictions on access to state ballots should be judged harshly if their effect appears to be essentially to ban third-party candidates, clearly the result of the 2020 changes in New York.
Third parties lost with the above arguments at the district and appellate court levels – basically, the courts simply did not find the new barriers to third party access to be a burden heavy enough to require remediation judiciary – which is why they are appealing to the Supreme Court for reconsideration.
In the NYLP press release, party chairman Andrew Kolstee complained that “the lower courts dismissed our case and our appeals while ignoring and ignoring many of our arguments,” including “that the number of signatures per day is the highest in the nation, making New York the hardest state for a third to get elected.”