It has often been said that ‘there is nothing you can do about elections‘. Or that an election is just a choice between bad and worse candidates. Neither is accurate.
The power over elections is commonly understood as being held by political Parties or quasi-political organizations. The Republican or Libertarian or Democratic Party choose the candidates. BLM or PLOT or Democrat Socialists of America and other such vocal splinter factions select candidates for elections at all levels of races. Voters just pick from what they are given.
Less commonly, members of the various political Parties are aware (to differing degrees) that they select candidates via petition signatures, and occasionally in primary elections. It is this process that determines whomever will appear on ballots for the actual general election. Their actions directly influence the general final ballot.
Still it is not outside of the power of the average citizen to affect the election process prior to a general election. Any citizen can theoretically run for any political office. In presidential elections it is common for dozens of candidates in multiple States to appear on the ballot. This can, and does, happen at every level of government.
Political Parties can make the process of getting signatures easier, but they do not control it. Equally, no citizen is required to sign (or vote) for any candidate that they do not wish to support. If you want to hold an elected office, get the generic form from your local Board of Elections, follow the rules of your State, get the required signatures (x2 to be safe) and run your campaign. It is exactly that easy.
At the same time, the power of the average citizen is not limited to getting or signing signatures on a petition. IF a citizen of the United States feels strongly enough, and has doubts about the validity of a candidate that citizen can create challenges. You do have the right, separate of the opinion or preference of any Party or quasi-political organization, to question if a candidate has properly gone through the process.
Challenging choices you question
An example of standing up to the political and mob mentality associated with election campaigns is presented here. In this case a school board election – the Binghamton City School Board. The process is essentially the same in any race for elected office.
A candidate (Cecil Hopkins) has used questionable means to solicit the required signatures, with the help of quasi-political organizations (BLM/PLOT/et al.). A citizen (in this real-world case, M V Consulting president Michael Vasquez) has doubts about the process used to solicit signatures. Thus a challenge is made, without a need of pre-approval or even notification of any political Party or organization. Because it is the Right of citizens.
Will such a challenge guarantee a candidate does not get on the ballot? No. Will it ensure that voters have better than just the choice of lesser evils? No. Does it mean that the candidate (in this case Cecil Hopkins or other candidates promoted by quasi-political organizations) will lose the election, if they get on the ballot? No.
In fact, according to the Binghamton City School District Clerk, no such challenge is know to have ever been made before. The Broome County Board of Elections is equally unaware of a challenge on this basis having ever been made. It’s quite possible that this may need to go to Court to determine if the candidate can get on the ballot (which means a lawyer will be needed – speak up if interested).
But it is an example that average ordinary citizens have far more power over elections than just waiting for a general election vote. We can shape who is the candidate, and what are the choices available for the ballot. Your vote, and your voice, is essential. If you choose to make it so.
Binghamton City School Board candidate challenge
District Clerk Tanya Browns, members of the Binghamton City School Board, and Broome County Board of Elections
I am Michael Vasquez, a homeowner, resident of the City of Binghamton, and registered voter. I am within the Binghamton City School District region, and affected by the candidates and members of the Binghamton City School Board.
I am contacting you to formally submit a challenge to the petitions of a candidate identified as “Cecil Hopkins”, and as a blanket challenge to all petitions and signatures submitted on April 20, 2021. The cause of my challenge is as follows:
On April 20, 2021, members and/or representatives of Binghamton City Democratic Committee (BCDC), Citizen Action of New York (CA), the local Black Lives Matter organization (BLM), TruthPharm, and Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT), among other organizations noted by news media, collectively and in tandem engaged in a well publicized and organized event [as noted in part by BU Pipe Dream article https://www.bupipedream.com/news/121251/auto-draft-1062/]. The event was designed specifically for the encouragement, display, and imbibing of now legalized psychoactive drugs. This was a public event, covered by news media and livestreamed [https://www.facebook.com/VassPolitical/videos/206005521015039 among other sources] via social media.
In part, the event was used as a means to solicit petition signatures for at least 1 BCSB candidate, identified as “Cecil”, though support was solicited for a total of 3 candidates. All candidates were allegedly approved by the quasi-political and political organizations mentioned above.
The event, which lasted for more than 1 1/2 hours as covered in livestream and news media outlets, documents multiple individuals ingesting, and becoming influenced by mind-altering psychoactive drugs. This was encouraged by speakers apparently of BCDC/BLM/PLOT early in the event [https://www.pressconnects.com/picture-gallery/news/local/2021/04/21/photos-dozens-get-high-front-binghamton-police-420-day/7285013002/ and as seen in livestream].
Beginning at 1:11:53 in the livestream a speaker apparently representing BLM/PLOT began soliciting petition signatures. At 1:13:00 the speaker engages in racist ideology & rhetoric to incite the audience. At 1:14:23 in the livestream the speaker declares their sobriety and observes the intoxication of the audience/event participants. At 1:15:57 the speaker declares that the environment of the event is so saturated with mind-altering psychoactive drugs that she has been cognitively impaired due to “contact” or secondary inhalation of drugs present. At 1:16:47 the speaker engages in peer-pressure & intimidation tactics to encourage intoxicated attendees to submit to the solicited petition signature process. At 1:18:19 the speaker identifies the BCSB candidate by name – “Cecil” – apparently referencing Cecil Hopkins who was present at the event (seen at 1:20:14 in video). At 1:19:09 former Binghamton Democrat City Council candidate Salka Valerio is identified by name (She was a featured speaker previously [see Pressconnects coverage] and can be seen in background of livestream at several points) as a participant/supporter of the event [https://www.pressconnects.com/picture-gallery/news/local/2021/04/21/photos-dozens-get-high-front-binghamton-police-420-day/7285013002/]. At 1:19:31 in livestream, speaker directly seeks to identify and solicit signatures of the attendees, who are known and observed to be intoxicated on mind-altering psychoactive drugs.
It should be noted that “without consent” is defined as: victim is incapable of consent by reason of mental disorder, mental defect, drugs, alcohol, sleep or any other similar impairment of cognition and such condition is known or should have reasonably been known to the defendant [https://apps.rainn.org/policy/policy-crime-definitions-export.cfm?state=New%20York&group=9]. As defined by New York Penal Law, though in context to sexual offense though such definition I believe still applies, in documentation from NY State Troopers in November 2020: Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated. Incapacitation = lack of consciousness, being asleep, involuntarily restrained, intoxicated such that one cannot knowingly choose to participate in sexual activity, or if a person otherwise cannot Consent [https://troopers.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/11/counsel-approved-consent-card.pdf – emphasis added].
Also, as marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 drug [https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling], with effects not limited to short-term memory loss, hallucinations, delusions, loss of personal identity, and paranoia [https://www.drugrehab.com/addiction/drugs/marijuana/what-kind-of-drug-is-marijuana/], individuals and voters at the event were mentally-impaired. As the organizers are well aware of the mind-altering nature of this drug, and purposefully engaged this audience to solicit petitions, they effected an abuse of power and took advantage of voters – some of whom may not have otherwise signed petitions.
In addition, it is my understanding that Binghamton City School District rejects all forms of racism. That includes rhetoric and ideology. Thus the use of such rhetoric and ideology, as a means to promote a political candidate and/or Party and/or BCSB member should equally be rejected.
Therefore, based on videographic and news media evidence, understanding that voters were knowingly without consent and mentally impaired via psychoactive drugs of a toxicity such that bystanders and normally sober individuals were self-admittedly mentally impaired, and the use of racist language and tactics, I formally challenge and seek the rejection of all petitions and signatures dated on April 20, 2021 especially those submitted by known and/or declared members of BCDC, CA, BLM, PLOT, TruthPharm, 100 Black Men of Broome County, North Side Mutual Aid, DAROC, Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier (JUST), Salka Valerio, Mary Clark, Dan Livingston, and/or Cecil Hopkins. I would further challenge any petition signature by Masai Andrews, Ken Bateman, Mary Clark, Salka Valerio and Dan Livingston who are identified by name and livestream as participants of this event, if such signature occurred on April 20, 2021.
SincerelyAs submitted April 28, 2021 at 4:57pm EST