Race for 20th Congressional district narrows to two

A Monday, Aug. 4, decision by the state Board of Elections has effectively narrowed the contest in New York's 20th Congressional District to a face-off between Democratic incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand and Republican challenger Alexander Sandy Treadwell, who will also appear on the Conservative and Independence Party lines.

Treadwell's challenges to signatures on the GOP petitions of John Wallace and Michael Rocque were upheld by the board. Rocque's Conservative Party petition was also thrown out.

Treadwell challenged the validity of many signatures on the petitions several weeks ago. Both of the removed candidates blamed the invalidation of their signatures on technicalities that, they say, were exploited by the Treadwell campaign.

To secure a spot in the Republican or Democratic primary, 1,250 valid signatures are required, and 412 are needed for the Conservative Party slot.

Those who sign a candidate's petition must be registered with the party in question. In addition, they cannot sign the petitions of multiple candidates and must write their address exactly as it appears in the voter registration list.

"The people on the board, they were doing their job and they were fair," said Wallace. "I do believe, however, that the issue of using minor technicalities to disenfranchise registered voters must be seriously reviewed."

He cited an instance in which entire pages of his signatures were discarded after the person collecting signatures had changed the date on the form from July 7 to July 8 after realizing he recorded the incorrect date.

Wallace also conceded that there were a number of legitimate errors in his petition that his campaign did not catch. Rocque also said his campaign could have done better.

"I take full responsibility from my perspective for not having enough signatures to make myself bulletproof," said the former Army officer.

However, he also spoke out against the petition system, saying: "The process allows the lawyers to have a greater say over who is on the ballot than the votersIt supports incumbents and parties."

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