Valid or Invalid Nominating Petitions?
There are many reasons that designating petitions or signatures are not accepted by the Board of Elections or may be ruled invalid by a court.
Some of those reasons are:
- Signatories that are not registered in the party that is the same as the candidate for which they are signing a petition.
- The person witnessing the signatures may not be registered in the party or they are not a notary public. (This is usually the worst case as every sheet of signatures witnessed by the disqualified witness will be excluded)
- The signatories may have already signed a designating petition for another candidate or the same candidate.
- Signatories may not have filled in their address or it does not match registered voter records.
- The signatory does not appear in the voter registration records.
- A witness or notary has witnessed their own signature.
- Someone has signed on behalf of someone else.
- Dates on a designating petition are out of order (later date before an earlier date).
Some of these transgressions are very serious (fraud as an example) and could lead to filing of criminal charges against the witness and/or candidate. The court takes these laws very seriously as they are the foundation of our government.
Below is the section of New York State law that pertains to designating petitions. These laws have stood up to many court challenges.
§ 6-134. Designating petition; rules.
- A designating petition may designate candidates for nomination for one or more public offices or for nomination for election to one or more party positions or both, but designations or nominations for which the petitions are required to be filed in different offices may not be combined in the same petition. If two or more offices having the same title are to be filled for different terms, the terms of office shall be included as part of the title of the office.
- Sheets of a designating petition shall be delivered to the board of elections in the manner prescribed by regulations that shall be promulgated by the state board of elections, provided, however, that the sheets of any volume of a petition shall be numbered. Such regulations shall be no more restrictive than is reasonably necessary for the processing of such petitions by the board of elections. Such regulations shall be binding on the boards of election in each county and in the city of New York. When a determination is made that a designating petition does not comply with such regulations, the candidate shall have three business days from the date of such determination to cure the violation.
- If a voter shall sign any petition or petitions designating a greater number of candidates for public office or party position than the number of persons to be elected thereto his signatures, if they bear the same date, shall not be counted upon any petition, and if they bear different dates shall be counted in the order of their priority of date, for only so many designees as there are persons to be elected.
- A signature made earlier than thirty-seven days before the last day to file designating petitions for the primary election shall not be counted.
- The use of titles, initials or customary abbreviations of given names by the signers of, or witnesses to, designating petitions or the use of customary abbreviations of addresses of such signers or witnesses, shall not invalidate such signatures or witness statement provided that the identity of the signer or witness as a registered voter can be established by reference to the signature on the petition and that of a person whose name appears in the registration poll ledgers.
- An alteration or correction of information appearing on a signature line, other than the signature itself and the date, shall not invalidate such signature.
- A signer need only place his signature upon the petition, and need not himself fill in the other required information.
- Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the failure to list a committee to fill vacancies or the failure to list at least three eligible voters as a committee to fill vacancies shall not invalidate the petition unless a vacancy occurs which, under law, may be filled only by such a committee.
- A person other than the subscribing witness may insert the information required by the subscribing witness statement, provided that all subscribing witness information required above the subscribing witness’ signature is inserted either before such subscribing witness signs the statement or in the presence of such subscribing witness.
- The provisions of this section shall be liberally construed, not inconsistent with substantial compliance thereto and the prevention of fraud.
- If the number of signatures on any petition sheet is understated in the witness statement, such petition sheet shall not be invalid solely because of such understatement, but such petition sheet will be deemed to contain the number of signatures indicated on such witness statement and the signatures at the end of such petition sheet that are in excess of the number so indicated shall be deemed not to have been filed.
- A signature on a petition sheet shall not be deemed invalid solely because the address provided is the post office address of the signer provided that proof that such address is the accepted address of such signer is provided to the board of elections no later than three days following the receipt of specific objections to such signature.
- In addition to the requirement for the signature, the printed name of the signer may be added, provided that the failure to provide a place to print the name or failure to print a name if a space is provided shall hot invalidate the signature or petition.