NY-17 Congressional Candidate Josh Eisen Sues Governor Andrew Cuomo

​On July 3, 2020, Dr. Josh Eisen, an independent candidate for Congress in New York's 17th district, filed a federal lawsuit against Governor Andrew Cuomo, alleging that Cuomo has placed unconstitutional and dangerous obstacles to independent candidate ballot access for November’s general election. The lawsuit notes that in the midst of a global pandemic, Cuomo is compelling independent candidates to collect signatures in-person, which must be handwritten in ink and witnessed. The action also challenges the State’s disproportionate treatment of independent candidates with respect to such signature requirements when compared to the requirements of major party candidates. On March 30th, the Governor issued an Executive Order suspending all petition circulation for independent candidates due to the Coronavirus pandemic. This was preceded by a March 13th Executive Order, in which Cuomo reduced the signature requirements by 70% for major party candidates seeking to qualify for party primaries. However, on June 30th, Governor Cuomo issued yet another Executive Order, in which he reduced independent candidate signature requirements by only 30%, far less than the major party candidate reduction, despite the fact that the reductions were both issued pursuant to the same health risks presented by the pandemic. This means that Dr. Eisen and other independent congressional candidates throughout the state are currently required to collect 2,450 in-person, witnessed signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Governor Cuomo’s June 30th Executive Order contradicts his otherwise cautious approach to the Covid-19 pandemic. He has permitted virtual signatures and witnessing for notaries, as well as various types of legal, banking, and real estate documents, to name just a few. He has also eliminated signature requirements for ballot access in many types of school board elections entirely. Dr. Eisen believes that politics factored into the Governor’s disparate treatment of independent candidates. Moreover, the case sheds light on New York’s archaic ballot access process, in which candidates for all offices are still unable to collect petitions digitally, even during this unprecedented time when we are all relying on technology to conduct business safely. While Governor Cuomo’s onerous signature requirements and insistence on in-person collection severely burden independent candidates’ constitutional rights and access to the ballot in 2020, Dr. Eisen and his campaign are optimistic that this action will spark conversations about permanently altering a  dangerous and byzantine ballot qualification process. 

For more information, please contact our campaign press office at (914) 539-5333.

Source: Eisen for Congress, Inc.