NYC Dem kicked off ballot for not specifying gender says printing error to blame

Hollywood talent manager Todd Stein was booted as a Democratic candidate for district leader in New York City after he failed to specify his gender as either male (M), female (F), or non-binary (X) on qualifying petitions which he claims was due to a printing error.

The gender selection on the forms is required by local Democratic committee rules.

Stein, who lives on the Upper East Side, claimed that the (M) that was missing from his forms was the result of a printer’s error and asserted that the error should not disqualify him from the race, according to the New York Post.

“The cover sheet and petitions were prepared and presented by our election lawyer Paul Newell. There’s no form petition, they are created by a printer,” Stein told Our Town.

“By disqualifying me, voters do not have a chance to vote for this position in the Primary, since the other candidate wins the election — by default — in an uncontested election,” Stein said, challenging the ruling.

“After my name on the petition it lacked the letter (M). This requirement was based on the amendment last year signed by our Governor that changed the circumstances from the District Leader and State Committee Party Positions being identified as ‘Male’ or ‘Female’ to a candidate having to self-identify with either an M, F, or X for inclusion of the non-binary gender after their name and no longer after the party position. Previously the positions were identified as ‘MALE’ and ‘FEMALE’. This was done for inclusion and was unfortunately ended up having me excluded by a technical error,” Stein said, according to Our Town.

Stein pointed out that he had over 1,800 signatures on his petitions and that more than 800 of them were registered Democrats living within the district, “My biggest disappointment in the process was that the community does not gain the ability to have a primary and in fact, all four District Leaders of AD76 Part A and Part B will be in the positions without any voter support.”

Unfortunately for Stein, the city Board of Elections didn’t agree with him. The gender rule has been in place since 2022 but seems a bit hypocritical for a party that eschews gender in general.

“The petition filed for Mr. Stein does not indicate, in any manner, his gender marker. In the event that Mr. Stein appears on the ballot, it is impossible for voters to know what he is running as, creating voter confusion. More importantly, how does the Board create a contest? Will Mr. Stein be eligible to be a District Leader, because two people of the same gender cannot be selected. If he wins, he could be ineligible to serve, depending on the other winner, however, there is no way to know,” the board contended.

New York Supreme Court Justice Lucy Billings agreed with the Board of Elections in its determination to remove Stein from the ballot earlier in May, shooting down Stein’s last avenue of appeal.

That means that Stein’s challenger Ben Akselrod is now unopposed and will win the position by default in the June 27 Democratic primary. It is an unpaid job.

“I think that candidates who need to make the ballot need to follow the law and that is his responsibility,” Akselrod contended, putting the blame fully on his opponent.

“Paperwork is essential to the role,” he speciously declared.

The position of district leader is typically used as a stepping stone on the way to larger elective offices in New York. Especially for candidates with limited means. The entry-level politicians vote in Democratic Party leadership elections, help choose local judicial candidates, and staff polling sites.

Stein being left off the ballot with no recourse over a potential printing error smacks of political manipulation making way for his opponent.

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