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Explaining The Process Of Collecting Signatures To Get On The Ballot

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The process of collecting signatures to get on the ballot has gotten a lot of attention thanks to Eliot Spitzer, but candidates have been criss-crossing the five boroughs for weeks asking voters to sign. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

It's possibly the most integral part of running for office: collecting signatures of registered voters.

The deadline to deliver the signatures to the city Board of Elections is Thursday at midnight.

But it's not as simple as handing them over. For instance, a citywide candidate, for mayor or comptroller, for instance, must collect 3,750 signatures from registered voters of his or her party. A council candidate collects 450. They have to be brought in in bound volumes.

In reality, candidates collect far more than the requirement. William Thompson collected more than 75,000 signatures. Scott Stringer said he has more than 100,000.

The extra volumes provide a cushion, so to speak, in case signatures are found invalid.

Rival campaigns can find errors on their competitors' sheets and kick competitors off the ballot.

There are plenty of opportunities to make a mistake. The petition must include the full address of the voter. The signature must be legible. Those collecting the signatures must be a registered voter or be a notary or a commissioner of deeds. The list goes on.

"It's way more technical than it really has to be," said Sarah Steiner, an election attorney. "It's arduous. It takes thousands of signatures to get on the ballot."

"The requirements are pretty straight forward, but some people sometimes just don't follow the rules," said Steve Richman of the New York City Board of Elections. "It's not onerous. It's just detail-oriented."

For some, this may just be the beginning of the process. The next few weeks may be dedicated to getting one's opponent kicked off the ballot.

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