Counsel representing Libertarian Larry Sharpe made final arguments in the state Supreme Court's Appellate Division on Friday in a final attempt to be a third-party gubernatorial candidate on the statewide ballot in November.
Gary Donoyan, Sharpe's attorney, requested judges reconsider a decision invalidating nominating petitions for five third-party candidates. He argued state law requires a petition "appear to bear" the required number of signatures.
Candidates are required to collect 45,000 petition signatures to be a candidate on the ballot.
Sharpe submitted a petition with 5,200 pages with 10 signatures each. The state Board of Elections counted and validated more than 42,200 signatures, leaving Sharpe more than 2,500 signatures short.
"Regardless of the petition, if it appears to bear the requisite number of signatures, they are obliged, by New York Election Law, for it to be valid," Donoyan said. "...New York law says if it's on the page, BOE is not going to take a look at it."
He also argued the Board of Elections is required to serve a copy of the specific objections of each candidate by a certain date, which wasn't filed, before conducting an administerial count.
John Ciampoli, counsel for a private citizen who filed an objection in the case, said the petition must be invalidated without the required number of signatures, regardless.
"Does the petition have sufficient numbers of signatures? It does not," he said.
Counsel for the Board of Elections Brian Quail said the board looks to ensure there are enough signatures at various points of reviewing a petition.
"Once the board determines there are not enough, there is no need to have a process," he said. "There's no need to see what signatures are valid because the document on its face was invalid."
Counsel requested to submit the board's specific objections into the record. State Supreme Court justices in the Appellate Division Third Department denied the request, citing the improper lateness of the request.
Donoyan told judges the Board of Elections counting the signatures without filing the proof violates state law.
Sharpe and his supporters continue to blast recent changes to state law for third-party candidates to get on the ballot, including increasing the number of required signatures, reduced the number of weeks where signatures can be gathered and moved that gathering period to late winter.
They say the changes made under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo are unreasonable and hurt the overall democratic process.
"It would be unreasonable if no body was able to make it on the statewide ballot," Ciampoli said.
The court is expected to make a decision on the appeal early next week. If the ruling is not overturned, the 2022 gubernatorial race will be New York's first in decades without a third-party option.
Sharpe may file an additional appeal or will run on a write-in campaign if the court does not rule in his favor.
Sharpe's supporters gathered in Albany on Friday say his petition to get on the ballot was challenged because major party candidates Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul and Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin don't want to face him in a debate.
"The idea we don't have any choice on the ballot is a disgrace to me," Putnam County Libertarian Party Committee Chair William O'Donnell said.
O'Donnell was one of several people to travel several hours to Albany for Friday's hearing and said the recent rule changes to get on the ballot have disenfranchised third-party candidates and their supporters.
"We're supposed to be inclusive of everyone — of all minority groups, and we certainly count," O'Donnell said.