New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order on Saturday reducing the number of signatures on nominating petitions by 30%.
“Public health experts have been clear that one of the most common ways to communicate COVID-19 is through direct person to person contact, and we are doing everything in our immediate power to reduce unnecessary interactions,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Across the river in New Jersey, candidates and party officials have expressed concern over the effect of the coronavirus on New Jersey’s March 30 filing deadline.
County party conventions are traditionally the most efficient way to gather nominating petition signatures. With the coronavirus triggering the cancellations of conventions, getting petitions signed has become more challenging.
On Friday, State Sen. Michael Testa, Jr. (R-Vineland), the Cumberland County GOP chairman, told the New Jersey Globe on Friday that he would ask Gov. Phil Murphy to extend the filing deadline by two weeks.
There have been no calls for the lowering the legally required number of signatures on petitions.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) announced last week that she already had the 200 signatures she needs to get on the ballot and suspended campaign canvassing until further notice.
Her Republican opponent, Rosemary Becchi, filed her petitions on Friday to avoid “unnecessary face-to-face interactions between the general public and her campaign staff.”
Candidates for U.S. Senate need 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot. In 2018, two Republican and one Democratic U.S. Senate hopefuls saw their campaigns end when they failed to secure enough signatures.
The same thing happened to 2nd district congressional candidate Brian Fitzherbert, who dropped out of the race two years ago when he failed to get 200 signatures.
The tougher challenge may be for candidates for still unannounced delegates to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions who need to get 100 signatures.