Over a six-week period this summer, our volunteers and supporters took to the streets to talk to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers about the key issues facing our City. In the end, they collected signatures from more than 125,000 New Yorkers to put my name on the ballot for New York City Public Advocate, far exceeding the 7,500 signatures required.
But because of New York's arcane election laws, the democratic choice of over one hundred thousand voters could be undone due to a minor typo on our petition coversheet. In New York City, the smallest error can make every signature a candidate gathers invalid, even if you have well more than ten times the number of signatures needed.
Elections should be about choice, not bureaucracy. As the New York Times wrote in an editorial last Saturday, "the treatment of Mr. de Blasio, who is expected to appeal, is a reminder of how easy it is to squeeze out the competition in New York elections."
We're confident that our signatures will ultimately be counted, but the Times makes a critical point: as anyone who has ever run for office in New York can tell you, collecting signatures is only half the job. Making sure each piece of paper submitted to the Board of Elections meets New York's strict guidelines is a painstaking (and often expensive) task. Elections in our City should be about debate, democracy, and about people's opinions being heard. Our election and ballot access laws should encourage qualified, dedicated public servants to run for office. And in the campaigning process, these candidates should spend their time talking to voters about issues that matter, not fighting outdated, illogical laws over a typo on a piece of paper.
I am running for Public Advocate because I want to provide a strong, independent voice in City Hall to make our government more responsive to New Yorkers' needs and rights. And that starts with making sure that our basic democratic rights are protected. Genuine grassroots support should determine who gets on the ballot, not who can best navigate an archaic bureaucracy.
Over the past few days, we've gotten an incredible response. Hundreds of our friends and supporters have called and emailed to ask how they can help. I am tremendously grateful for all the support we've received, and I will continue fighting to make sure that each of your voices and your signatures are heard.
Please visit my website at http://www.billdeblasio.com/ballotaction to learn about some quick, simple ways you can get involved to voice your support for my campaign and for much needed ballot access reform in New York City.
Follow Bill de Blasio on Twitter: www.twitter.com/billdeblasio