A state Supreme Court judge on Tuesday rejected a lawsuit challenging the petitioning process in New York amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawsuit, filed by more than 100 candidates and backed by New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, challenged what has been necessary campaign scut work to get on the ballot: collecting signatures of registered voters to qualify for access.
Only during the pandemic, there have been concerns that doing so defy social distancing rules.
State lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January approved a new law reducing the number of requied signatures, similar to an order the governor signed last March in the middle of petitioning.
Supreme Court Judge Frank Nervo pointed to that measure in rejecting the challenge.
"There is no dispute that the impacts of COVID-19 have made in-person petitioning more difficult and demand plaintiffs and signatories take additional safety measures not required in prior years," he wrote.
"However, legislators from across the State have determined that reducing the number of signatories required on a petition is the appropriate response to these impacts. The legislature and executive are the branches of government best equipped to exercise judgment in response to COVID-19’s impact on the electoral process."
Williams in a statement said there was still a moral imperative to address petition collection given the contagious spread of the virus.
"We are disappointed but undeterred by the Judge's decision in the case, and immediately plan to appeal. But our most fervent appeal is to Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo," he said.
"The fact that the court is not legally forcing them to do the right thing at this time is neither reason nor excuse not to do it. Today's decision does not preclude them from taking action, in fact, it makes it all the more necessary."