We all should, as adults, trot off to the ballot box at least once a year. Actually, if you live in New York State, it is twice a year as school district elections in all but the Big Five Districts are held in May and municipal and state elections in November.
We should all, also, try to be informed. It is hard to pay attention when a presidential election slated for November 2008 starts almost two years before the actual election. It is also hard to keep up on those running for such an esteemed office when there are eight major possibilities in one party and ten – I think that is right at last count – in the other major party.
Tonight, I had the privilege to sit in on a conference call regarding the petitioning process in NYS. I never realized what went into getting a candidate on the ballot in NY. As a candidate, you cannot just plop down x amount of money and guarantee your name is on the ballot. If you are a republican candidate for the presidential nomination in 2008, you will need to have 5000 signatures collected by registered NYS republicans and from registered NYS republicans. The same goes for a democratic candidate. These petitions cannot be signed by independents or other \”minor\” party voters. These petitions cannot be presented by an independent or other \”minor\” party voter. In NY, you have to be either republican or democrat to even help start the ball rolling.
On top of these rules about who can and cannot sign or, offer for signature, a petition, the petition period is about to begin. In NYS, the petition period starts October 30. The petitions then need to be submitted to the state Board of Elections between December 3rd and December 5th. While that seems like a long period of time for gathering 5000 signatures for a national office, I believe this election cycle it will be more difficult as NY has two native sons in the process – one in each party. Those two will find the process easy. The rest of the slate may not.
This is really disconcerting for a woman who has voted in every presidential election since 1980 and, only once in that time, voted for a major party candidate. Yes, I am registered in a major party. No, I do not go into a voting booth – in NY, we still have these antiquated lever machines – and just pull across a straight party line. I research and read about candidates – their experience, their stances on the issues. I make an educated vote.
It seems in NYS that you are either a republican or a democrat or you are nothing – very disconcerting.