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McCain Ready to Challenge New York’s Ballot Access Rules

December 9, 1999

December 9, 1999

Contact: Ken Weine 212 998 6736


– Emery Cuti Brinckerhoff & Abady and Brennan Center for Justice To Represent GOP presidential candidate John McCain –

Seeking to ensure that New York state voters are able to choose among all of the major presidential candidates in the state’s March 7, 2000 primary, a team of ballot access lawyers announced today that they stand ready to challenge New York’s infamously burdensome rules governing how candidates may qualify for the ballot. Ready to file suit on behalf of the presidential campaign of U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), this same legal team successfully represented GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes in his 1996 effort to appear on the ballot throughout New York state.

New York’s ballot access rules – criticized for decades by voters, civic leaders, reform-minded officeholders, and editorial boards – have come under renewed attack as a much-vaunted overhaul intended to provide candidates with easier access to the ballots has proven to be ineffective. At present, only those candidates with nearly inexhaustible funds – Texas Gov. George W. Bush and millionaire Steve Forbes – have managed to surmount New York’s arcane hurdles.

New York requires that GOP candidates not only collect signatures from registered party members statewide, but also in each of the state’s 31 congressional districts. The validity of signatures is often challenged by rivals, leading to costly and lengthy legal fights.

The legal team that won the constitutional case in 1996 – the New York law firm Emery Cuti Brinckerhoff & Abady and the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law – are preparing the current lawsuit. According to Brennan Center President E. Joshua Rosenkranz, “Our nation’s ballot access laws inhibit our democracy by limiting voters’ choices at the ballot box – and in regard to primary elections New York state is the worst.” Rosenkranz continued: “The most telling, and pathetic, statistic is that 50 percent of all ballot access litigation in the nation occurs in New York, where candidates must spend precious resources to fight over their rivals challenges to petition signatures.”

Richard Emery, of Emery Cuti Brinckerhoff & Abady stated: “John McCain must be on the ballot across New York. Voters who support him cannot be denied the right to vote for their candidate of choice. To guarantee that right, we will, once again, file a lawsuit challenging the unfair and unconstitutional aspects of New York’s ballot access laws.”