EDITORIAL: June’s arrival means paperwork for politicians

Phew. So, what should voters be sure to remember? Firstly, know that you only give one signature per office – you can’t sign for both supervisor candidate A and candidate B. You also can only sign a petition for the party you’re enrolled in. Oh, and if you lie about anything and affix your signature to a petition, it could well be considered perjury (Democrats in Troy could tell you a little about that).

But wait, there’s more! There’s also a thing called an opportunity to ballot. If a candidate gathers up enough signatures, this will open up a write-in position on the September primary ballot next to an endorsed candidate who has no individual primary opponent.

A candidate may then stage a write-in campaign to take the line from the endorsed candidate. As an example, this mechanism allowed Jack Cunningham to wrest the Working Families Party line from Sam Messina in the 2009 Bethlehem supervisor race.

The period to circulate these opportunity to ballot petitions is June 25 to July 18 this year.

If that doesn’t sound like enough paperwork, there’s of course more. Most candidates will also form a campaign committee to handle all the matters of money. The candidate or his/her committee must register with the state Board of Elections and then submit campaign finance disclosures at certain intervals. The public can access that information (donations and expenses) through the board’s website.

(Candidates who don’t spend more than $1,000 are not required to submit itemized reports. The utility of these public reports is also somewhat dubious; the law requires committees to submit a disclosure report 11 days before an election, and 10 days after. So whatever money changes hands in the days leading up to the election is masked until the votes have already been cast.)

This all means that when you give money to a candidate, that contribution is out there for the world to see. Under state law, anonymous donations must be handed over to the state and placed in the general treasury.

The point is, you have important decisions to make well before the voting booth. We hope this information helps.

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