Last week, New York State Committee Member Lauren Trapanotto and New York County Committee Member Eric Vladimer, wrote an open letter with over to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, New York State legislators, and the Democratic Party leaders calling on our leaders to protect the health of all New Yorkers by waiving the 2021 designating petition signature requirements due to the dangers posed by COVID-19, and instead allow any candidate who files a cover sheet with the appropriate Board of Elections (BOE) to be on the ballot. Collecting signatures for a successful designating petition creates an unacceptable risk of exposure to COVID-19 for candidates, their staff and volunteers, and political club members through what are essentially hundreds of thousands of mandated, non-socially distanced interactions. You may read the full letter HERE.
Lauren and Erica joined forces with Corey Ortega, a Democratic District Leader and City Council candidate in District 7 in Manhattan, who has been organizing
candidates around the issue. Corey, Lauren, and Erica represent a coalition of over 350 candidates, political clubs, grassroots advocacy groups, and community leaders throughout New York State who signed the letter. On Wednesday, January 27, 2021, the letter was exclusively released by City and State, and also sent to all of the recipients.
On Thursday, January 28, 2021, the coalition held a press conference with guest speakers including Candidate for NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Councilmember Brad Lander, and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, with attendees from throughout New York State. Corey also spoke about how he contracted COVID while petitioning last year. Councilmember Bramer described petitioning as a "superspreader event in the making," and Councilmember Lander broke down the data to show how many thousands of interactions petitioning would result in, even with the signature reductions. Speakers also discussed why the recent bills that were passed to lower the signature requirements are not enough, as cutting down the number of signatures doesn’t put anyone at any less risk.
You may watch the press conference HERE if you missed it, and you can also read the coverage on the coalition's efforts by Daily News and Gothamist. NY1's Inside City Hall also had a segment on the letter and the coalition's work where they discussed how intimate the process of gathering signatures actually is, and why that poses dangers and challenges for candidates and their volunteers amidst a pandemic.
Erica, Lauren, and Corey will continue advocating for this issue, and will continue updating all of the signatories and allies on next steps.