Today, ballot access in New York State is more restrictive for independent parties than it is in Putin’s Russia. In a cynical attack on third-party ballot access, then-governor, Andrew Cuomo, attached a (rouge-painted pig) campaign finance reform package to his “must pass” 2020 budget. It was his coup de grace, having been shut down by the courts after his hand-picked commission contrived a similar move to banish third parties from the ballot in 2019. That maneuver was struck down when a Working Families Party court challenges prevailed. So far, Cuomo’s 2020 election sabotage has held up in the courts.
The draconian provision that has stripped the upcoming state election slate of all but Democratic and Republican candidates (WFP-endorsed Democratic Party candidates) was an increase in the number of votes required to retain a ballot line. The requirement is based upon statewide election totals for governor or U. S. president. The prior requirement of 50,000 votes was jacked up to 130,000, nearly triple the former standard.
The Conservative, Libertarian and Green parties all failed to retain their place on the ballot. The Libertarians and Greens also failed to place candidates via petitioning, having been successfully challenged by the major parties. Zeldin petitioned for the Conservative line, but he was disqualified due to his campaign submitting 13,000 fraudulent signatures.
It may seem practical to boot parties that cannot muster more than a 10% share of a presidential or gubernatorial contest, but that ignores local races where third-party candidates have won contests. That argument also ignores the role of minor parties in the grand scheme of political discourse. In the current political spar between the major parties, a sampling of campaign ads shows that the two major parties are focused on a handful of polarizing issues, most of which do not poll as major voter concerns. Win or lose, third-party candidates bring salient debate to the table and, without question, overcome the inertia of two major parties content with the security of the status quo.
Moreover, legislating ballot access with unreasonable quotas is not “regulation,” it’s suppression. After years of arguing with pollsters who wanted to put me in the “undecided” camp (I’m a Green), I received a letter this spring from the Board of Elections notifying me that I am no longer a Green; I’m an “other.” I chose to be a Green before a Green Party even existed in the U. S. After reading about the rise of Greens in Europe, I waited a decade and a half to register as a member of the U. S. Green Party. In one fell swoop, Andrew Cuomo, chagrined, having been called out by Howie Hawkins in a gubernatorial debate, spitefully voided tens of thousands of New Yorkers’ chosen party affiliation.
Despite not being on the ballot, Howie Hawkins is running a write-in campaign for Governor along with Gloria Mattera, Lt. Governor. I encourage readers to give them consideration, if not for their credentials, for their challenge to the arrogance that deprived independent parties of a spot on the ballot.
C. M. Barons
Member of the Green Party