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September 14, 2014

By: Jerry H. Goldfeder

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's failure to knock his now-vanquished Democratic Party primary challenger off the ballot last month obviously had little or no impact upon his electoral fortunes. But the spectacle of trying to prove that law professor Zephyr Teachout did not continuously reside in New York for the last five years, as mandated by the state constitution, revealed the harshness of the requirement.

The question, of course, is why the five-year residency rule exists. Other than statewide officials and members of the Legislature, most public officials must reside in their jurisdiction only on the day they are elected, not before. The mayor of the City of New York, for example, could actually live in the suburbs as long as he moves to the city on Election Day. The same applies for approximately two-thirds of the state's municipal officials. Albany has an in-between rule, requiring its officials to reside in the city a year prior to taking office.

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