Last year, progressives fought for and saved the Working Families Party’s endangered automatic ballot line.
“And why I’m voting for Joe Biden on the Working Families Party line for Joe Biden,” then-Democratic nominee for Congress Jamaal Bowman said in an October ad.
But this year, in the city, almost no Democrats can run on it because of a problem with the party’s petitions.
“As it stands right now, most New York City voters are not going to be able to see a Working Families Party candidate on their ballot line, which is such a shame,” Sharon Cromwell, deputy director of the New York Working Families Party, told NY1.
In April, the city’s Board of Elections removed nearly two dozen candidates from the line, saying the left-leaning third party needed original, manual signatures to accompany its electronic ones.
Those affected include Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and comptroller candidate Brad Lander.
“Even if it was notarized by remote notarization, the signatures that were submitted were not wet signatures,” Frederic Umane, president of the city Board of Elections said at the hearing.
Fusion voting in New York allows one candidate to run on multiple party lines.
Being limited to just the Democratic line could hinder progressives in swing districts, like City Council candidate Felicia Singh in Queens.
“We’re already going to be working incredibly hard in the next two-and-a-half months to get out the vote, but we will be working harder because we just have that one ballot line," Singh said. "To me, this is symbolic of a version of voter suppression.”
The party blames BOE dysfunction, arguing the board accepted its electronic signatures last year and rules were applied differently to another objector that day.
But the party bungled its attempt at legal action, failing to properly serve the board.
It’s now hoping elections commissioners will reconsider, guided by a state Supreme Court ruling that favored WFP candidates in 15 upstate counties who use the same virtual notarization.
“Seeing the BOE leadership take the extraordinary step of kicking candidates off the ballot line, without really examining their own rules, without really examining the laws that apply to elections in the face of the pandemic, without really engaging and thinking deeply about what that means, is very concerning for us,” Cromwell said.
The city Board of Elections said legal proceedings elsewhere don't supersede courts here.
Meanwhile, at least one Democrat has secured the WFP line.
“Look, being the progressive torchbearer for the entire city of New York is not going to be easy,” joked incumbent council candidate Justin Brannan of Brooklyn.
Brannan’s petitions were handled separately from the rest.
He added: “No, but seriously, in my district, Democrats don’t win by landslides, we have to fight for every vote.”
In November, New Yorkers will be able to vote for a mayoral candidate on the Working Families Party line. There’s currently a placeholder candidate, and her replacement will be chosen at a WFP meeting next month.