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New York voters could see crowded ballot this fall

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New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York voters can expect new ballot lines this November next to the familiar Democratic and Republican parties as candidates seek to attract single-issue voters and get their names on the ballot two, three or even four times.

Tuesday is the deadline for groups hoping to create ballot lines to submit petitions to state election officials. New lines expected on the November ballot include the Women's Equality Party and Stop Common Core.

New York election law allows candidates to run on multiple lines, with the number of votes for each line added together for a candidate's total tally. In 2010, Cuomo ran on three lines. This year, he's seeking to run on four: the Democratic Party, the Independence Party, the Working Families Party and the Women's Equality Party, a new line created by his campaign this year.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, hopes to run on three lines: the Republican Party, the Conservative Party and a line he hopes to add called Stop Common Core.

Both campaigns say their efforts to add a new ballot line are meant to galvanize support around important issues — but Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins questioned whether they help voters.

"I think it confuses the picture," he said. "To put up single-issue ballot lines to get votes, it just dilutes the ballot."

More ballot lines are likely. Michael Carey, an advocate for the disabled, wants to create another line for a new Life and Justice Party to oppose what he says are efforts by Cuomo to expand abortion rights and cover up abuse at state facilities for disabled people.

The state's rules also allow groups and single-issue candidates to get a ballot line if they collect enough signatures. That's what happened in 2010, when Jimmy McMillan ran for governor on The Rent is Too Damn High Party line.

To get on the statewide ballot supporters of a new line must collect at least 15,000 signatures. Unless the petitions are obviously invalid — i.e., they contain blank pages or fail to specify a race — they are considered valid, unless an objection is filed, according to John Conklin, a spokesman for the state's Board of Elections.

Parties can keep their place on the ballot automatically if they receive 50,000 votes in a general election. If they fall below that threshold they're off the ballot the next election.

"The Liberal Party, the Freedom Party, the Right to Life Party; there were other parties that have come and gone," Conklin said.

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