The front-runner for the hotly contested public advocate race — Park Slope Councilman and ultimate political insider Bill DeBlasio — has been knocked off the ballot because of a technical error with his campaign petition signatures.
In the highly unusual decision against a major citywide candidate, the Board of Elections, known worldwide for rules so arcane that even seasoned candidates have trouble keeping up, rejected DeBlasio’s paperwork because the number of volumes of petitions that he handed in did not perfectly match the number of volumes that he SAID he was handing in.
The board instructed DeBlasio to make a recount — which he did, but his number on his cover sheet still did not match the number of volumes he actually handed in, the board said.
The difference in the end was one volume. But the board said a candidate gets only one chance to fix a miscount.
As a result, the astounding 125,000 signatures that DeBlasio’s campaign submitted, far more than the 7,500 required to get on the ballot, mean nothing. He is off the ballot — until next week, at least, when he can fight his way back on.
DeBlasio, who has successfully maneuvered the board’s Byzantine filing requirements in two runs for City Council and has worked extensively on the campaigns of others, said he expects to regain his place on the ballot during the appeal process — another of the board’s numerous complex procedures to ensure the sanctity of ballot access.
“We are entirely confident we can resolve this matter working with the Board of Elections. We don’t believe the law was intended to prevent a candidate with over 125,000 signatures from getting on the ballot because of a typo,” he said in a prepared statement.
The board’s decision, if unchanged, dramatically shakes up the race for public advocate, which includes former officeholder Mark Green, civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel, Queens Councilman Eric Gioia.
In the wake of the Board of Elections’ ruling, even a Republican candidate for public advocate came to DeBlasio’s defense.
“News that Councilman Bill DeBlasio … was kicked off the ballot due to a technicality is further proof that our election laws must be changed in New York State,” said the candidate, Alex Zablocki. “The petition process, from beginning to end, is a lawyer’s dream. The rules are complicated and archaic and not only turn off potential candidates who want to run for office, but also prevent access to the ballot for candidates that have few resources.”