WASHINGTON – New Yorkers troubled at the prospect of having to vote for either Donald J. Trump or Hillary Rodham Clinton might find Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson an attractive alternative.
However, prospective voters won’t know for another 10 days whether the state Board of Elections will allow Johnson a place on the state’s November presidential ballot.
Many also want Johnson to participate in the Sept. 26 presidential debate with Trump and Clinton, but the Presidential Commission on Debates probably won’t permit that.
Yes, the system is “rigged,” but not in the way Trump suggested as a matter of leverage. Rigged, meaning closed, with the people locked out.
Johnson, 63, twice elected governor of New Mexico, would not pose much more than passing interest were it not for the unpopular nominees of the two major parties.
As a conservative Republican, Johnson cut New Mexico’s budget, lowered taxes and moved clients off Medicaid and into managed care. He is reputed to have vetoed more bills than all the other 49 governors combined.
Term limited, Johnson ran briefly as a Republican presidential candidate in 2012. Denied that, Johnson switched to the Libertarian Party and ran for president on that ticket. This time he has chosen Bill Weld, a popular former Massachusetts governor, as his running mate.
The pair has no history of being questioned by the FBI like Clinton, nor has either Johnson or Weld ever accused a rival’s father of plotting the assassination of President Kennedy, as Trump did.
The presidential debate format has become a perfect storm of establishment and media control of American politics. The two co-chairmen are Washington lobbyists. Republican Frank Fahrenkopf recently spoke for the gambling industry. Democrat Mike McCurry was once press secretary for President Clinton.
To qualify for the debates, a candidate must average 15 percent in recent polls done for the following media combines: ABC-Washington Post; CBS-New York Times; CNN, NBC and Fox. These outfits may have lower credibility than Congress.
Johnson and Weld are currently pulling 8 to 10 percent in the polls. The prospect of their reaching 15 percent is problematic, with these mainstream media blocking their coverage, which is inexcusable considering the reputations of the two front-runners.
Attainment of a place on the New York ballot as an independent candidate is no easier, considering the labyrinthine state election law, 225 pages long, single-spaced.
The law is written for experts like the controversial Buffalo lawyer Steve Pigeon, former Erie County Democratic chairman, not for the unwashed. Its complexity is the leading cause of the state’s rank politics. Under it, members of the Assembly and Senate serve for life unless convicted by some passing federal prosecutor.
On the law’s page 190 are instructions on how an independent presidential candidate like Johnson can get on the New York ballot:
The candidate needs 15,000 valid signatures. Not 15,000 statewide. It says at least 100 “must come from each of one half of the  congressional districts.” The petitions “must be signed by voters numbering five percent of the total number of votes cast for governor at the last gubernatorial election in such unit,” et cetera, et cetera.
Petition forms must carry accurate street addresses, and witness’ data, and also the names of the electors who would cast votes at the meeting of the Electoral College. The only information not required, it seems, is the maiden name of the candidate’s grandmother.
Once considered a protection against fraud, New York’s code has become the reason our politics are comatose.