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Thursday, May 23, 2024

New York GOP Primary Candidates Question Ballot-Qualifying Signature Rule

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By: Juliette Fairley

Taiwanese immigrant Joseph J. Chou, 60, knows the American dream is true because he’s living it.

After immigrating to the United States with his parents, he started a successful auto-mechanic business in the migrant community of Flushing, Queens.

He was campaigning to unseat Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) in the 6th District as a Republican. But, the political newcomer is facing obstacles he didn’t foresee.

“I’m realizing they get you on the signatures,” Mr. Chou alleged. “The GOP does not want anybody to challenge their candidate [Thomas Zmich] and the GOP nominated the same candidate in 2020 and 2022.”

In 2022, Ms. Meng defeated Mr. Zmich with 63.9 percent of the vote.

Because Mr. Zmich is the Republican nominee, Mr. Chou had to collect 1,250 signed voter petitions before he could be placed on the upcoming June 25 primary ballot.

“All the district leaders of the Queen GOP nominated [Zmich] as a candidate,” Queens Republican Chairman Anthony Nunziato told The Epoch Times.

“That’s how that works. Zmich ran before so I guess they decided to run him again.”

Mr. Chou thought he had successfully gathered 1,903 proper signatures until on April 15, the Queens County GOP challenged 1,363 as invalid.

Vincent Ignizio, deputy executive director of the New York City Board of Elections, said after Mr. Chou presented an exceptions list, he still did not have enough valid signatures.

“Mr. Chou appeared personally on the second date saying he had fired his lawyer and that the list submitted was somehow defective and he now wanted to submit another list—which the commissioners declined because it had not been presented at the original hearing and he had already been given an opportunity to present an exception report,” Mr. Ignizio told The Epoch Times.

The commissioners then adopted the clerk’s report resulting in Mr. Chou being removed from the ballot.

“Mr. Chou represented himself in court in a validated proceeding and Judge Catapano-Fox ultimately decided against Mr. Chou,” Mr. Ignizio added.

Mr. Chou isn’t the only candidate whose ballot-qualifying signatures were challenged by either the New York GOP or the Democrat party.

Overall, in New York County, 62 objections were filed. In Bronx County, 25 objections were filed. Kings County has 129 objections on file.

In Queens County, 73 objections were filed, and in Staten Island, two were filed.

Mike Zumbluskas, a former GOP candidate for New York’s 12th Congressional District, thinks the signature petitioning requirement is problematic.

“The party nominee has a super advantage because you have the establishment helping you,” Mr. Zumbluskas told The Epoch Times.

“My whole thing is to get rid of petitioning altogether and just pay a fee to get on the ballot.

“A number of states do that. The city and state would save millions of dollars a year and the courts would have more time to hear other cases.”

Although he is disappointed, Mr. Chou hasn’t given up. He is gathering the 3,500 signatures necessary to be listed on the ballot as an independent candidate.

Like Mr. Chou, Helen Qiu is gathering signatures in New York County as an independent after being disqualified as a Republican.

She is campaigning against Democrat state assembly incumbent Grace Lee who objected to Ms. Qiu’s ballot-qualifying signatures.

“I have to spend thousands of dollars to hire a lawyer to prove my signatures and I don’t have that kind of resources.”


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