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Designing a system to Deny Ballot Access to Outsiders

Deciding to Primary NYS Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. It had been 10 years since my last race for NYS Assembly against Nily Rozic when this year I decided to jump back in to the political fray. What prompted and drove me to commit to that were the 2020 riots here in NYC and the spike in crime following the horrendous No Cash Bail Law passed in 2019 effective for 2020. To that, I saw that Nily was a co-sponsor of that bill along with other bills that I considered menacing to society. Let me cite a few - allowing felons to vote from prison alá Bernie Sanders view, making women inmates share a prison cell with Transwomen (women with male bodies), the policy of e-bikes to go unlicensed on the road and have Trump signage in State Parks be taken down because Trump, I suppose, is an embarrassment to politicians ( Progressives, in my view) like her. The idea of removing cash from the policy of detaining defendants before trial is a reasonable one but the remaining result of not detaining dangerous defendants and allowing them to circulate back into society is not good. The Progressives will say, correctly, that they did not now institute removing judge discretion from the Bail Law because that was there since the 1970’s when some other tinkering had been done. The only problem is when you remove one bracket from a post you had better make sure that the remaining brackets will hold it up which in this case of Bail Reform it hadn’t. Examples of dangerous “defendants” let loose are such as the one with multiple arrests for violent crimes only to go on and stab to death a Chinese young woman on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The vagrant who lit Fox News’ Christmas tree resulting in $500,000 in damage was let loose the day after because he had not committed a felony. Arson is only a felony when intended as a hate crime or done with the intent to harm people physically. Causing them to lose $500,000 isn’t good enough to be a felony even though to shoplift $1,000, is - go figure that out. If someone punches someone els in the face giving them a bloody nose and a black eye that is not a felony - it is a mere misdemeanor because the assault is only 3rd degree when it doesn’t involve substantial harm such as a loss of limb. Finally, the example of someone who smeared his own feces on the face of a woman in the subway, similarly was not charged with a felony because there was not bodily harm caused to the woman, let alone substantial harm. In fact he was charged with forcible touching, menacing and harassment but not assault. The fact that the woman could be psychologically tormented by that event, for years I suppose, doesn’t factor in. In all of these cases there is no felony and the No Cash Bail Law dictates that they get released into society with no bail. After 2 years of this insanity and untold number of victims from all of these dangerous people let out, Governor Kathy Hochul along with her fellow Progressives in the State Assembly and State Senate finally, we are told, will agree to tighten up these laws to exclude those who use a gun or who have multiple arrests in a given time to finally make them outside of the No Cash Bail law. But dangerous defendants will still be let loose as in the cases above. The arduous task of petitioning to get on the ballot. So then to run for office there is the “mere” task of getting signatures to pre-qualify you to get on the ballot. Reasonable enough - you must demonstrate that there is “community support” for you to run. After all we wouldn’t want just anyone off the street to run - why you would have hordes of people clamoring to run for office!!! No - you wouldn’t. It works in Florida without petitioning because there is still this pesky fact that you must get people to vote for you and losing on election day is not fun for anyone unless you’re just a silly prankster, I suppose. Getting to hear what the candidate stands for and seeing him show up at events and debates is plenty to vet the serious candidates from the (fictional) non-serious ones. But petitioning is regarded so highly by NY State law that there is a law that if a signer of a petition signs for one candidate they are precluded from signing for another candidate for the same office if there is only one office holder for that position. What??? Doesn’t that mean that a signer is in fact VOTING for that candidate on the first round? What sense does that make if the campaign doesn’t officially start until each candidate is placed on the ballot which is AFTER the petitioning is over? When someone tells me when I’m petitioning “but I don’t know you, how can I sign your petition?”, I should be able to tell them “but you can sign for someone else too, if they come around” but by law I can not tell them that because that would be against the law. The other reason besides demonstrating community support for the candidate is that you are “educating" the voters. So first let me tell you that very few voters want to be interrupted with what they’re doing to become educated. The 2 main categories of signers/voters are the 1) cooperative and the 2) non cooperative. The 3rd category of ‘eager' is very small. We’re not living in Iowa where people are excited to see Christmas carolers or political campaigners. Really the petitioner is the equivalent of a non-financial panhandler and the signer is like a charity donor of their time. As a voter myself I want to be educated when I see fit, with a pamphlet, door hanger or TV/radio commercial - not when someone is knocking on my door when I’m brushing my teeth, talking on the phone or eating dinner. Petitioning can be in the cold outside such as in March as we had this year when you still have temperatures in the 30’s. I remember in years past when I was petitioning and perfectly good pens were not working because the ink in them was too cold to flow out. Don’t think I’m imagining it either because I was watching some politician on TV give their acceptance speech and say the same thing about the pens not working in the cold! I felt so vindicated when I heard that. When it’s cold outside people don’t want to stand around signing some petition that most people consider absurd to begin with. If you’re petitioning outside of a store some people run out from their car not even warmly dressed thinking they’ll just run in to the store real quick and here you are telling them a story why they should sign a paper out in the cold. People at home likewise have to open their doors to have the cold air come in as they're signing it. There are 3 basic ways of getting signatures - 1) going to peoples’ homes 2) standing in front of well trafficked areas such as in front of a supermarket or 3) at an event such as a community board or political meeting. The problem with going to homes is that most people are not home during the day because they are working. If they are home they may be afraid to open the door to a stranger. When they do open the door you’re disturbing them as I discussed earlier. Often enough people are reticent to sign anything - whether they’re afraid that they’re signing their inheritance away or don’t want their signature floating around so that identity thieves can copy their signature and forge documents in their name. Even if they are willing to sign they may not be the registered voter that is on your list who is qualified to sign. Standing in front of a supermarket tests peoples’ patience because they want to go shopping and get back home. Also, when meeting people in public not in front of their homes they are reticent to give their address for fear that you might come to their home and harass them. It is my experience that getting 1 signature for every 20 people you ask, is about right. Getting signatures from a meeting or event is again disruptive because you can only do it before the event starts and people are busy chatting away then and don’t want to be bothered. You also have to compete with others who are trying to gather signatures for their petition and after the event everyone wants to get home.

In my estimation, requiring petitions as a pre-qualifier to ballot access is akin to requiring candidates and their volunteers to crush a big pile of rocks.

So why am I griping about this when others don’t seem to have a problem with this? The answer is that for the established politicians petitioning is done with a network. For instance my rival, Nily Rozic, was on 2 petitions with the following candidates: 2 Civil Court Judges, 1 Congresswoman, 1 State Senator, 2 District Leaders for Part A, 2 District Leaders Part B, 7 Party Position Delegates, 1 Female member State Committee, 2 members (1 Male/1 Female) County Committee - you get the picture. Candidate vs. candidate, how does that show that Nily Rozic has more community support than I do? THE MORE CANDIDATES THERE ARE THE MORE ASSOCIATE VOLUNTEERS THERE ARE TO CARRY THEIR PETITION. If petitions show community support

how do we isolate MY RIVAL’S community support apart from the other 18 candidates on her petition? Obviously it can’t be done. I, after asking around found out that I also could share a petition with others - not as numerous as my rival’s but having candidates of Civil Court Judge, 2 District Leaders (1 Male/1 Female) and 3 Party Position Delegates - 6 besides myself vs. Nily's 18 besides herself. I added my name to the group's petition that I was lucky to be a part of and I had a small petition of my own that I had started before I joined theirs. Their petition drive was centered on the houses and the list of registered voters so we felt fairly confident with the team’s number of close to 1,600 signatures and I had 85 to my individual volume on top of that. Defending one’s petition to the Board of Elections. It is fairly routine for teams to mount a “General Objection” to the rival team’s petitions and my rival’s team and I both did that step and that is to see whether the other team has enough legitimate signatures and if not, “Specific Objections” can be filed at the Board of Elections to deem their petitions insufficient and thereby their candidacy would be invalidated. When I went through my rival’s petition I labored to see whether the signatures were really valid even if the signature looked like chicken scratch but if the signer signed that way on their signature card it was valid and I validated it in my count. So I and my team were very surprised and dismayed when we got notice that our rivals had filed a Specific Objection invalidation report on our petition. Little did we know that indeed there were certain problems that had occurred with the “witnesses”, otherwise known as petitioners who have to sign a witness statement on the bottom of the petition. The witness must count up the signatures, state where the witness lives, date and sign the witness statement. So a couple of the witnesses wrote their addresses where they presently live - one recently having moved and the other was just housesitting for a relative - both stated addresses at not being registered as a Democratic voter which they must be in order to be a witness. But because they really did have addresses which they were registered at as Democrats they were in fact legitimate witnesses. Other witnesses were alleged to have counted the upper signatures wrong and thus their entire page of signatures were disqualified, which is not correct procedure. Some disqualifications are so trivially based such as a witness crossing out the preprinted word of Queens on the petition because the witness lives in the Bronx but because he didn’t initial the line strike through “Queens” the Objector and Subsequently the Board of Elections would strike that witness’s signatures. The Objector’s count was so Draconian and reckless that she had credited me with only 227 valid signatures. When the Objection report and filing went over to the Board of Elections they raised it to 381 valid signatures. However despite the fact that we found quite a few (about 35) valids that we felt even the Board of Elections had missed, there was the matter of explaining the witnesses’ situations that we felt that it should go to court where a judge can hear out what is behind the stated matter written. Incidentally, the Board of Elections gives the candidate the opportunity to rebut the decision of their’s but on the page of the Objections and the adjacent ruling and notes of the Board of Elections (BOE), there isn’t even a space for the candidate to place his/her count with notations. The next column over after the BOE’s count and notes is a column titled “Court Referee - Column C”. Our team after having asked the BOE where to place our count and notations were told that they are not allowed to advise candidates as to the procedure - their own procedure that is, as to how to rebut their own report - and that we should consult an attorney. Can you imagine the DMV telling you to consult an attorney if you asked them how to fill out a form at their agency? Furthermore, the BOE’s report was sent to us, the candidates, on a weekend and they expected us to go through our entire petition for all the invalids that they counted up - almost 1,300 signatures - by Monday afternoon by 3 pm. So our team determined to put our rebuttal in Column C under Court Referee in the form of a Voter Identification Number (VIN) next to the invalidated signature which would invariably prove the validity of that signature. However the BOE would not accept the hard copy report and we were told that the whole rebuttal report must be scanned and sent over as a file by 3 pm that Monday afternoon in order for the BOE to review and rule on that at the upcoming hearings the next day. In essence that would mean that anyone wishing to rebut their ruling would have to finish vetting all the suspect signatures, which by the way, is very labor intensive (about 30 signatures per hour = 43 hours?) in about 3 hours, 9 AM to 12 PM, in time to go home, scan the rebuttal pages to their computer and send them off via email to the BOE by 3 PM! Needless to say, our team and I did not make that deadline but I especially could not make that deadline because I had a Court hearing on the same day, Monday, that I had to make the rebuttal report to the BOE! Yes, when my lawyer filed an order to show cause to validate my signatures, the Court - in all its wisdom - scheduled a virtual hearing for me that Monday morning at 10 AM! I suppose I could have attended the virtual meeting at the BOE sitting in their lobby on my cell phone - they won’t allow you to use your phone in their office space - but I didn’t feel secure doing that for different reasons. Truth is that I was relying on my team’s vetting of the signatures and also I somewhat thought that I would have to rely on the Court anyway to validate my case and that’s why I didn’t push back on the moronic scheduling of the Court for Monday morning. But they should have known better than that because this was the judge who was hearing an election case and they should have been in tune with what the BOE was scheduling during that time. In between the first virtual hearing by the court and the 2nd one was to be the hearing of the BOE where they declare their final ruling on who is on or off the ballot after there was an Objection Challenge. I did not get my rebuttal forms to them by 3 PM Monday but I did get it to them the day after, the day they were to hold hearings of their official ruling. I was not able to find on their website the link to their virtual hearing so in my paperwork I requested the link. I was sent that link in an email and I was able to hear the proceedings but when they called my name to ask whether I had an objection to their ruling I found that they could not hear me, not because I was muted but as they explained they didn’t even know I was there because I was not in their “waiting room”. So the link that I was given by email was not the proper link because it did not let me participate in their proceeding. Had I been able to speak to them I would have asked that my late submission be considered because I was delayed with the court hearing the day before. Defending one’s petition In the court room. The lawyer I had to do the paperwork to start the court case was not able to represent me because he was swamped with other cases. But he highly recommended another lawyer that he knows. That 2nd lawyer showed up on my 2nd virtual hearing and he then told the judge that he intended to represent me but that we had not made it official yet with the payment and retainer. The judge then scheduled a physical appearance in court for the next day for me and my new lawyer to attend. Later that day I did officially retain him when I went to his office in Brooklyn and we showed up for court the next day. I also sent to my lawyer the same rebuttal forms that I had scanned over to the BOE. When we got to court the next day my lawyer asked for a postponement because he hadn’t had the “certified copies” of the registration cards to bolster the VIN’s that I had noted on the rebuttal form. At this point Counsel from the other side proclaimed to the court that they had not gotten an "affidavit of service", "notice of appearance" or a "bill of particulars" from my attorney and he requests from the Judge to dismiss the case and not just a dismissal but with “prejudice”, meaning that I shouldn’t be able to open up the case again when the deficiencies are corrected. The Judge then granted the dismissal but said that this “does not preclude the case from being brought again”. I was very disappointed that my lawyer had not filed these papers and quite frankly it was the first time that I had heard that there is such a thing as certified copies but my lawyer got down to business and filed all the papers but said that he could not yet get the subpoena for the certified copies because he didn’t yet have an order from a judge. He told me that in Brooklyn where he usually practices they were not as strict as they are in Queens. We then are notified that we are to appear at a new virtual hearing from a new judge and my lawyer even tells me that the new judge has a softer touch with litigants. At the new hearing I am then rather shocked to hear that the new judge is dismissing the case because the former judge stated that we didn’t have sufficient evidence because we lacked the “certified copies” of the registration cards. The ruling went on to say that a postponement would not have been reasonable because elections have deadlines. Mind you, the court date when my lawyer asked for a postponement for the certified records and to put in the paperwork that he hadn’t had time to do the first day, was April 28. That is a full 2 months before the Primary of June 28! They acted like it was Erev Primary Day! Needless to say, my lawyer was shocked as well to hear this because everything was in stark contrast to what was said by the first judge that a new case could be brought. As it turns out the affidavit of service really was served by my first lawyer but opposing counsel said later that it was not placed in the proper folder. At this point I went ahead and got the certified copies from the BOE but my lawyer said that it has to come through a subpoena presumably because if I have the certified copies I could taint them, change them - whatever. But we go on to appeal this matter because it’s terribly unfair that we’re not even being allowed to present my case. According to me, and I have carefully gone over them, I have 605 valid signatures and all I needed was 500. So my lawyer orders a transcript of the first judge’s ruling wherein she states that we can open a new case which means only one thing that she did NOT dismiss the first one on the merits, and we go on to an appeal. Briefs go back and forth between my lawyer and the opposing team. Mind you there are 3 lawyers from the opposing law firm and all from the Democratic County, as I was to learn later from speaking to people and from what I read about of these types of proceedings. At first the law suit from the opposition was against the District Leader candidates on my team petition but they had conceded after the BOE hearings and never answered the court case. My count of valids was different because on the petition, the OD’s (out of districts), was for them outside of Part B but that was still good for me as long as it was in the Assembly District (Part A). Besides, I had my individual volume that I had petitioned for which was only for myself. I say this to explain that the opposition was fighting me alone so that Nily Rozic should have an unchallenged Primary. A day goes by and I get the call from my lawyer that the appeal ruled against me. Now the reason is different: They say that the notations on the rebuttal form that didn’t have a column for me to begin with, that said "court appointed referee" - (I should be so lucky to have a court appointed referee) where I noted the VIN’s to refute the disqualifying comments/abbreviations, lacked specificity. If we were allowed to bring in the Certified copies after the first appearance or given the court’s order to subpoena them along with the affidavits of witness statements and if we were given a chance to give oral argument as to why the signatures are valid - then maybe we/I would have had a chance of being more specific! Why on G-d’s earth does the written report have to be so explanatory when you can allow supportive evidence and oral explanations to follow? When my lawyer told me that there is still one more appeal to try even though he doesn’t recommend it, I had to go for it. I could not give up at this point without trying the last appeal because I felt robbed and couldn’t believe that I was being treated this way - to not be given a chance to present my case. When the opposing team was writing in briefs that I had “3 bites of the apple”, I felt that I only had the chance to smell the apple and that wasn’t enough. So we proceeded onto the last appeal which would in total cost me 20k in legal fees, only to get this response: Denied. That’s persuasive, isn’t it? As I believe you can tell from my writing that I am very demoralized and infuriated by what I regard as falsehoods and cheating on the part of the court system in my case. My lawyer said that he’s never seen such dishonesty by the court system that we have here in Queens in all of his career and he’s 74 years old and must have been doing this for 50 years. When speaking to people, I have been told that this is an old dirty secret that the courts here in Queens in relation to the election system and protecting County candidates is corrupt. It was hard for me to accept or believe that but then I came across an article in the Daily News from 5 years ago dated April 2, 2017. The columnist is Ross Barkan and the article was underwritten "with the support of a grant from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism Urban Reporting Program”. The 3 men written about here are the men on my opposing side. This is what the article says. "For 30 years, the same three men have effectively controlled one of the largest Democratic organizations in America. They are Gerard Sweeney, Michael Reich and Frank Bolz, the powerful attorneys who serve {Then} Rep. Joe Crowley, the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party. Reich is the executive secretary of the party, a spokesperson and wrangler of district leaders. Bolz is the law chairman, entrusted with keeping county-approved candidates on the ballot and knocking their rivals off. The three men, with Crowley's blessing, still determine what type of justice is served in Queens County. No Queens judge rises through the ranks without the party's blessing and regular donations to its housekeeping account." If things have changed since this article was written and this characterization is not accurate then maybe it’s all my imagination.

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