As we share just a few weeks ago in this post, the New York State Campaign Finance Reform Commission released its final report earlier this week. This Commission was tasked with devised a system for publicly-funded political campaigns. However, it took these efforts a step further, establishing new standards on how to create a new political Party and how to maintain that Party once established.
It was always hard
Prior to this Commission’s work, it was already hard to become an independent political Party with automatic ballot access. Previously, this required an effort to submit independent nominating petitions for a candidate for Governor that contained the signatures of more than 15,000 registered voters, with 100 coming from at least half of the NYS Congressional districts. Then, that candidate needed to receive at least 50,000 votes on election day. To put that in perspective, you’d need to get as many signatures as many people who live in the City of Batavia, just to get on the ballot. Then, your candidate would need to get the votes of the same amount of people who live in the City of Troy!
This prior threshold was so high that only the Conservative, Working Families, Independence, SAM, Green and Libertarian Parties were successful in 2018. Over the years, Parties such as the Reform Party, the Right to Life, and the Liberal Parties all faded from the ballot by not reaching those thresholds.
Despite this, the Commission recommends increasing these requirements to 45,000 signatures, with 500 coming from at least half of the Congressional Districts to get on the ballot. Then, Parties would need to receive 130,000 or 2% of the vote to remain! To nearly triple the signature threshold and nearly triple the vote threshold is a clear and direct assault on independent parties, all under the faux umbrella of fiscal responsibility.
“Our democracy is designed to speak truth to power.” – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Even more staggering, the enabling legislation for this Commission states that if the Legislature does not act to amend the recommendation by December 22, the recommendations become law on January 1. This action will make it nearly impossible for independent organization like the UJP to properly represent the vast majority of independent voters fed up with a broken system. It’s wrong, it undemocratic, and it’s likely unconstitutional.
What can you do?
Do you agree? If so, call your Senator at (518) 455-2800 and State Assembly Member at (518) 455-4100 and tell them to stop the Campaign Finance Reform Commission from killing independence in the voting booth!
Read the full report here.