Opinion: Party-machine bosses have stranglehold on ballot access, says Colton man
To the Editor:
In his article about Potsdam's new town justice ("Former DSS attorney, county legislator, assistant DA appointed as Potsdam town justice"), the writer states that Attorney David Haggard "ran as a Democrat for county district attorney in 2017, but pulled out of the race prior to the election." No mention is made of the fact that Mr. Haggard's petition signatures were challenged.According to a July 2017 article in the Watertown Daily Times, "Mr. Haggard’s petitions were challenged by his Democratic opponent James L. Monroe’s campaign manager Anne Monck...The St. Lawrence Board of Elections...ruled on Ms. Monck’s specific objection to 235 signatures on Mr. Haggard’s petition, ruling that 132 of them were not valid, putting him below the required 1,000 signatures needed. 'He submitted 1,005, taking him down to 873. That will remove him from the Democratic line,' [an elections commissioner] said."
The average voter is unaware of the machinations that party-machine power brokers employ in order to make sure their chosen candidate appears on their party's line on election day, despite what the party grassroots might desire. They normally challenge the petition signatures of a candidate who does not enjoy their favor both at the Board of Elections and in the NYS Supreme Court, the belt-and-suspenders strategy. It is laughably easy to challenge signatures in the Supreme Court. When I attempted to run as a Republican for the NY State Senate last year, my signatures were challenged in a petition to the court that made no mention of my Republican Party petitions, but instead challenged fictitious Working Families Party petitions that I had never circulated and that existed only in the minds of the objectors and their attorney! Yet the judge would not grant my motion to dismiss.
Thus do the bosses of both parties violate the right of the grassroots to choose their party's candidate in a primary.
Famed election-law attorney Jerry Goldfeder has long deplored the petition system for its susceptibility to abuse, and has suggested a filing-fee alternative for ballot access. His proposal has of course been ignored by the party-machine bosses, who view it quite accurately as a challenge to their stranglehold on ballot access. Had a filing-fee alternative been available to Mr. Haggard, he would have been able to primary Mr. Monroe for the Democratic Party line.