The New York City Board of Elections met Tuesday to finalize the candidates for the upcoming special election for Public Advocate next month—knocking a handful of them off the ballot, while forcing one candidate who is suspending her campaign to remain on it.

This is Part Two of our look at the Public Advocate race; read Part One here.

The final ballot was set with 17 candidates listed in the order that they submitted their petitions, with a snakelike layout starting at the top left corner and running horizontally to the right and then down and back to the left.

The meeting is part of a ritual that takes place before every election. Candidates submit petitions and in some cases, face challenges over whether their paperwork was submitted in accordance with the very specific rules set by the Board and state election law. Ultimately, the Board’s ten commissioners make the final decision about whether someone appears on the ballot.

Here is the previous "official" ballot that has already been sent to armed forces members serving oversees:


Five candidates—Theo Chino, Daniel Maio, Gary Popkin, Michael Zumbluskas and Ifeoma Ike—were removed for various technicalities. Several of the candidates appeared in person at the hearing to argue why they should remain on the ballot, at times leading to heated exchanges with the Board’s chief counsel Steve Richman.

State election law gives candidates 12 days from the date a nonpartisan special election is set (by the mayor or governor) to file petitions and 14 days to submit a notice accepting or declining the nomination.

“It’s as simple as that,” Richman said. “The provisions of election law have not changed for the timeframes for the 20 years I have been here and I believe it precedes me even further back,” he added.

In the case of Ike, a first time candidate, she was being removed from the ballot for a paperwork error made by her campaign’s lawyer. She argued that the Board gave her confusing, inconsistent and untimely information regarding the problem with her paperwork. Petitions were due January 14th, a notice accepting (or declining) the nomination was due January 16th. She was missing the form accepting the nomination.

The Board mailed her a notice on January 15th via first class mail. Ike said her campaign wasn’t notified of the problem until after the date when she could fix it, even though she tried to submit the form on January 18th.

The board rejected her argument.

The same rule used to remove Ike from the ballot was used to prevent another candidate, Brooklyn Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, from removing her name from it. Walker sent her lawyer, who announced that she was suspending her campaign because she did not qualify for public matching funds and therefore did not think her candidacy was viable.

“She is going to get votes and they will be spoiled votes,” her lawyer argued.

Still the Board declined to remove her from the ballot because she did not submit a declination form by January 16th.

Ironically, all of the candidates who submitted adequate petitions are listed on the ballots that were sent overseas to military voters because they were sent out last Friday, in accordance with state statute. Any vote for a candidate who was removed from the ballot will not count.

Of the 17 candidates who will appear on the ballot (including Walker), ten of those candidates qualified for the first Campaign Finance Board debate on February 6th. The criteria include participating in the matching funds program and raising and spending $56,938 by January 21st. The special election is set for February 26th.

Ballot showing the candidates who remain, plus who is able to participate in the debate (plus one candidate who doesn't even want to be on the ballot anymore but whose name will still appear)

Candidates in the upcoming debate include:

  • Michael Blake
  • Rafael Espinal Jr.
  • Ron Kim
  • Nomiki Konst
  • Melissa Mark-Viverito
  • Daniel O'Donnell
  • Ydanis Rodriguez
  • Dawn Smalls
  • Eric Ulrich
  • Jumaane Williams

Brigid Bergin is the City Hall and politics reporter for WNYC. You can follow her on Twitter at @brigidbergin.