Governor modifies election procedures to control spread of virus 

Gary Greenberg

Gary Greenberg

The governor signed an executive order today that, to control the spread of the coronavirus, temporarily modifies election procedures.

The order goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and suspends the candidate petitioning process for the June primaries for Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly, and Judicial races.

The executive order also modifies the signature requirements for ballot access; candidates will only need to collect 30 percent of the statutory threshold. For Congress, candidates would need 375 signatures rather than 1,250. For State Senate, candidates would need 300 signatures rather than 1,000. For Assembly, candidates would only need 150 signatures rather than 500.

“Public health experts have been clear that one of the most common ways to communicate COVID-19 is through direct person-to-person contact, and we are doing everything in our immediate power to reduce unnecessary interactions,” Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “This executive order modifies the election process in a way that both protects public health and ensures the democratic process remains healthy and strong regardless of the ongoing pandemic.”

On March 8, Democrat Gary Greenberg, of Greene County, who is running for the State Senate in the 46th District, a seat now held by Republican George Amedore, had called upon the New York State Board of Elections to adopt emergency rules reducing or even waiving the required signatures for candidates for State Legislature to qualify for the ballot this year.

He said at that time that a Guilderland woman, an American citizen of Chinese descent, was verbally assaulted while circulating his nominating petitions.

“People are scared and being urged to avoid all unnecessary contact by our government leaders at both the state and federal levels,” Greenberg said in a statement. “Requiring petitioners to knock on doors during this unprecedented health crisis does not make sense and causes undue stress for all New Yorkers who open their doors to strangers, asking for signatures.”

He also reported that the Guilderland volunteer “never even had the chance to identify herself to most of the residents” and recounted people screaming at her “to get away from their home and take your virus with you.”

Greenberg concluded, “I feel terribly that my good friend suffered those indignities but considering the numerous warnings from government officials and media coverage of how to avoid the corona virus, the NYS Board of Elections must adopt emergency rules that reflect warnings to avoid unnecessary interaction with people.”

The 46th District comprises Montgomery and Greene counties and parts of Albany, Schenectady and Ulster counties. Incumbent Amedore is not seeking re-election. Richard Amedure of Rensselaerville, an Independence Party member, has the backing of the five county Republican committees while Michelle Hinchey, of Saugerties, has the backing of the five Democratic committees.

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