For the first time since 1946, New Yorkers will have just two gubernatorial candidates on their ballot paper — Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul and Republican challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin.
However, perennial Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins is looking to meet new ballot access standards by waging a write-in campaign for the state’s highest office. Hawkins argued on Tuesday’s Capital Tonight that the new ballot access standards are tougher than those in Russia.
Hawkins has been a familiar presence on New York’s ballot for over a decade. Hawkins is making his fourth consecutive attempt at the governor’s mansion after a presidential run in 2020 on the Green Party line. But this 2022 run could be the hardest yet. In the state budget passed in 2020, new petition and vote thresholds were adopted that third parties like the Greens and Libertarians have legally challenged. The new petition standards require candidates to collect 45,000 signatures, up from the previous 5,000. The new vote threshold requires candidates to achieve 2% of the total vote cast or 130,000 votes in a gubernatorial or presidential election, whichever is higher, which is up from the 50,000 in a gubernatorial election.
After securing ballot access in 2018, the Greens, along with the Independence, Serve America Movement, and Libertarian parties, all lost their ballot access after failing to secure enough statewide votes in the 2020 presidential election. Larry Sharpe, the 2018 Libertarian gubernatorial nominee, is also waging a write-in gubernatorial campaign in 2022.
With the difficult stage set, Hawkins is making electoral reform part of his campaign platform. Hawkins is pushing for New York to adopt ranked choice voting in the state. This model allows voters to rank their preferred candidates with their vote switching to one of two final candidates if their ballot has not been exhausted and their first choice has been eliminated. Ranked choice voting was recently used in the citywide primaries in New York City in 2021 when Eric Adams was victorious in a crowded primary field. Hawkins said ranked choice voting would remove the so-called “spoiler effect.” On the federal level, Hawkins would like to see the Electoral College abolished.
Hawkins is confident that there is a large enough appetite for a progressive candidate for governor, arguing that his party supports “the whole progressive wish list” including the New York Health Act which would implement Medicare for All on the state level.