In an opinion this morning, Judge Vyskocil denied an application for a TRO by a Queens Republican who sought to have her name on the ballot for the June 23 primary. The plaintiff’s complaint was focused on the fact that, due to the spread of COVID-19, New York had reduced the number of days available to gather enough signatures to appear on the ballot.
Judge Vyskocil denied the application because (among other reasons) she found that the State’s interest in controlling COVID-19 met the standard of “reasonable and nondiscriminatory” necessary to justify the shorter time period, particularly given that the State also correspondingly reduced the number of signatures required:
Controlling the spread of the disease in order to contain the pandemic, minimize deaths, allocate scare hospital resources, and prevent a larger public health catastrophe (with its attendant other negative impacts on society) is a powerful compelling government interest.
. . . .
Balancing the alleged burden on Plaintiff’s rights against the competing interest of the State, the measures taken [by the State] were reasonable and non-discriminatory, especially when the substance of the challenged modifications to the Election Law are carefully scrutinized.
As the State Defendants convincingly argue, the government’s COVID-19 measures not only limited the number of days to campaign and gather signatures, but also drastically reduced the number of signatures any candidate needed to appear on the ballot. In so doing, the State recognized that curtailing the time in which to collect signatures could be harmful absent a corresponding reduction in the number of signatures required. Based on the record before the Court, such measures were undoubtedly “reasonable and nondiscriminatory” . . . .