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New York Incumbent Politicians Vote to Silence Minority Voices

By Diane Sare, Independent Candidate for U.S. Senate—NY

Many New Yorkers are unaware that your right to choose a candidate has been taken from you by new ballot access restrictions which were quietly slipped into the 2020-2021 New York State Budget. ( S-7508) 

Not only has your right to choose a candidate been taken, but perhaps even worse, your right to hear divergent views on how to address pressing matters of war and peace, pandemic policies, homelessness, inflation and anything else of concern to you has been trampled by this move. 

If independent candidates like myself, or those representing smaller parties like Larry Sharpe (Libertarian Party) and Howie Hawkins (Green Party) are not allowed on the ballot, and therefore do not participate in the debates, who will hold our powerful incumbent politicians accountable on matters they may not wish to discuss?

For example, given the hyper-inflation which is pushing millions of Americans off the abyss, I believe it’s time to reenact FDR’s original Glass-Steagall Act, nationalize the Federal Reserve, and issue trillions, not billions, of dollars for major national infrastructure projects, like high speed rail and water management. The pandemic exposed how frail our healthcare system is, yet we continue to shut down hospitals in every major city. If I am not on the ballot and not in the debate, who will force Senator Chuck Schumer to take a stand on these matters? No one.

That’s actually why the incumbent politicians made these new restrictive requirements. Of course they’ll be happy to grab an extra $100 million in matching funds in 2024, but they are even more glad to not have to hear from me, and by extension any voters who might share my views now, in 2022.

Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe and Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins received 95,033 and 103,946 votes respectively in the 2018 elections. When you add the 50,674 votes cast for the Serve America Movement, that’s a quarter million people who have been told by the State of New York that their vote is irrelevant because they voted for “frivolous candidates.”

Assemblyman John Salka (AD-121) has introduced legislation to revert to the original requirements, while also extending the petitioning period from six to 12 weeks. The bill, which has as of this writing four co-sponsors, is A08683. If you believe that Americans truly should have the right to representative government, please call your assemblyperson and state senator to move on this urgent matter immediately. It doesn’t matter if you specify this bill or the measure that Larry and Howie propose, the main thing is to let your state legislators know that you’d like an opportunity to decide for yourself on election day, not have it predetermined by the powers that be. The petitioning period for minor parties and “independent political bodies”, if left unchanged, begins on April 19, and ends May 31.

 

New York’s Party Suppression is a Form of Voter Suppression and Elitism

By Howie Hawkins and Larry Sharpe

Many are outraged at recent Republican laws enacted in many states that affect voting rights. But we all should be outraged at Democrats in New York who have enacted laws to undermine voting rights in our state.

These new rules ensure that only the elites in New York can run for office, that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers will be prevented from voting for whom they truly support, limiting our choice and therefore silencing our voice. Over 250,000 New Yorkers voted for alternatives parties in 2018. Ending achievable candidate access to the ballot, as well as voter access to the election process disenfranchises voters for alternative parties like those we represent, the Green Party and the Libertarian Party. 

This party suppression was enacted in New York in April 2020 while the public was pre-occupied with the Covid lockdown. At Governor Andrew Cuomo’s insistence, the state legislature included election law changes in the state budget bill that radically increased New York’s ballot access requirements by:

  • Tripling the votes needed to maintain a ballot line from 50,000 votes to 130,000, or 2% of the total, whichever is greater. In 2020, 2% of the vote was 174,000 votes.
  • Doubling the frequency that 2% standard must be met, from every four years in gubernatorial elections to every two years in both gubernatorial and presidential elections.
  • Tripling the signature requirement on ballot access petitions for statewide candidates from 15,000 to 45,000 to be collected in a 42-day window, making New York’s ballot access petition the most difficult of any state in the nation.
  • Quintupling the signatures required in half of the congressional districts from 100 to 500. Failure to meet this distribution requirement is the most common way ballot petitions for statewide office are disqualified.

The result of this ballot access exclusion law was that four of the eight parties in New York were wiped off the ballot. Re-obtaining ballot access will now require an average of at least 2,000 signatures per day for statewide offices and will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. This realistically removes anyone who does not already have an organization, huge name recognition and/or access to hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Party suppression is a form of voter suppression. Our parties bring out voters who otherwise abstain because they don’t support either the Democrats or the Republicans. For example, 2016 presidential election exit polls showed that 61% of supporters of the Green Party’s Jill Stein and 55% of supporters the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson would have abstained if they had not been on the ballot.

We are calling on the state legislature to enact a Fair Ballot Access Bill that restores the pre-2020 ballot access standards. New Yorkers should have the right to a multi-party inclusive democracy.

Howie Hawkins of the Green Party and Larry Sharpe of the Libertarian Party were the candidates for New York Governor for their respective parties in 2018 and, they hope, 2022.

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