The proper address stipulation has long drawn fire from candidates who see their hard-won signatures fly out the door because a voter wrote their mailing address instead of their municipality (a Malta resident might have put down Ballston Spa, for example). Some say that it is needlessly leaving legitimate candidates off of ballots.
Board of Elections Commissioner Evelyn Aquila criticized the rules during the meeting on Sundwall's petition, saying that a minor discrepancy a person's address should not immediately disqualify the signature or witness.
"I will vote the way I am supposed to, but it is time to correct this," she said.
"In New York, it isn't so much the signature requirements, but the verification requirements," said Christopher Thrasher, executive director of the Free and Equal Elections Foundation, a nationwide nonprofit that seeks reform to election laws around the country to better enable third-party candidates to make it onto election ballots. "It's ludicrous, when you have people on the Board of Elections saying, 'This isn't right, but I'm forced to vote this way.'"
The Sundwall campaign contracted the services of Free and Equal.
Now, two former third-party 20th Congressional District candidates are planning to petition lawmakers to amend ballot access laws to remove the address difficulties.
Morris Guller, who ran in 2004 and 2006, and John Wallace, whose petition was invalidated in 2008 in much the same manner as Sundwall's, will head to Albany on April 6 to meet with the chairmen of the Senate and Assembly Committees on Elections, Joseph Addabbo, D- Queens, and Ruben Diaz Jr., D-Bronx.
"Your signature and the city you live in is enough to tell the Board of Elections you are a bona fide voter," said Guller. "If someone signs a petition, their signature should be enough, and if someone wants to challenge, their signature is on file with the Board of Elections, and they can just match it up."