New York Daily News City Council bill would make it easier for candidates to get on ballot, scraps requirements for petition signatures by Erin Durkin
City Council bill would make it easier for candidates to get on ballot, scraps requirements for petition signaturesJEFFERSON SIEGEL/NEW YORK DAILY NEWSThe legislation by City Councilman Ben Kallos from the Upper East Side would make it easier for candidates to get on the ballot.
A new bill being introduced in the City Council aims to make it easier for candidates to get on the ballot without the backing of party machines — scrapping requirements to gather hundreds of thousands of petition signatures.
Under the legislation by Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), a candidate could instead qualify by raising enough donations to earn public matching funds — from $5,000 for City Council to $250,000 for mayor.
Under the current rules, candidates have to get between 450 and 3,750 signatures — but upstart office-seekers often face petition challenges seeking to knock them off the ballot.
“Running for office should be easy, and shouldn’t require getting hundreds or thousands of signatures simply so that the incumbents or political parties can knock people off the ballot and eliminate any chance of having a democratic choice,” Kallos said.
Another bill he is introducing would give candidates public matching funds for the first $250 of a contribution — up from $175 now.
The maximum payout of taxpayer funds would jump to 85% of the total candidates are allowed to spend, from 55% now — so candidates for mayor would be able to get up to $6 million in public funds, out of the $7 million they’re allowed to spend.
The change is meant to decrease the need to rely on big dollar donors to raise enough to meet the spending cap.
“Big dollar contributions and those who can give them should not have more power than other voters. For the first time, people running for office can ignore donors who can write checks for thousands on behalf of special interests and rely solely on small contributions,” Kallos said.