When five of the leading mayoral candidates show up on the same Zoom screen, it’s usually for one of the countless forums where they present their individual policy platforms ahead of the June primary. This week, they joined in common purpose to call on Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo to eliminate the need for ballot access petitions as the pandemic continues to ravage the city and state.

“We've got over 40 mayoral candidates and over 300 city council candidates that would require at least a half a million New Yorkers’ signatures and much more individual contact to collect those signatures," said mayoral candidate Dianne Morales. "That's a super spreader disaster lying in wait."

It was the second event in less than two weeks urging city and state officials to come together to find a work around to the traditional ballot access process. After last week’s event, Cuomo signed a bill that would reduce the number of signatures required, delay the start of the petitioning process and shorten the length of it.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said that legislation does not address the core issue, which is eliminating the need for close personal interactions: going door-to-door, in apartment hallways, passing pens back and forth and then inspecting those petitions for possible defects.

“I know people probably had the best interests in mind in trying to lower the numbers, but any amount of numbers is going to require hundreds and thousands of people in the streets to get quadruple the amount so they can stay on the ballot,” said Williams. “And it's going to result in hundreds of thousands of engagements,” he added.

In a letter to de Blasio, Williams urged him to take action to suspend ballot petitioning. As an alternative, he proposed that the city rely on the thresholds set by the New York City Campaign Finance Board (NYCCFB) for the number of donations a candidate needs from their respective district.

When asked on The Brian Lehrer Show if he planned to take action, de Blasio said he didn’t think he had the authority to do it on his own. “The only way we could cancel that kind of in person petitioning is with state law,” he said, while also signaling his support for making additional changes that would protect people’s health and safety.

“There are lots of ways it could be done potentially, including online. So I would very much like to see a change here because we are in the middle of a pandemic,” he added.

Among the 2021 mayoral candidates joining Morales at the Zoom event were Eric Adams, Carlos Menchaca, Scott Stringer and Maya Wiley. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who organized the event, read statements of support from two candidates not in attendance: Shaun Donovan and Andrew Yang, who tested positive for Covid this week.

Kathryn Garcia issued a statement ahead of the event saying she would commit to not challenging any of the signatures gathered by her opponent. Signature challenges are a common strategy because it can keep a person from ever appearing on the ballot. Morales was the only other candidate on the Zoom to commit to doing the same.

The good government group Common Cause New York is also calling for ballot petitioning to be suspended. Instead, suggesting that candidates file cover sheets to the New York City Board of Elections, along with an additional requirement, requiring individuals to file a Candidate Certification with the NYCCFB on the first day of petitioning.

“There are easy solutions here,” said Remy Green, an election lawyer. “The governor could modify the petitioning requirements so petitions could be signed electronically, and the legislature could do the same. They could also get rid of the signature requirements altogether given that we are in midst of a pandemic. The only thing stopping an intelligent solution here is the unwillingness to act.”

The governor’s office has not yet responded to a request for comment on this issue.