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by John Furman

PROPOSAL TO KILL THIRD PARTIES MUST BE STOPPED

From its beginning, critics of New York’s Public Campaign Finance Commission have thought it was a backdoor way to eradicate the power of third parties in New York. New York State empowered the nine-member commission to offer recommendations on the future of fusion voting, which permits candidates to run on several party lines and combine their vote totals.

Public Finance Commissioner and State Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs recently sent an email proposing to change the requirements for a party to gain ballot access from 50,000 to 250,000 votes. Parties would be required to meet the threshold every two years for both presidential and gubernatorial elections instead of just gubernatorial, which is the current practice. Only the Conservative Party has reached recently reached this threshold. Observers believe that this change specifically targets the Working Families Party because the party had helped to vote out the Independent Democratic Conference members of the State Senate. Furthermore, the WFP provoked the ire of the Governor by endorsing Cynthia Nixon for Governor. The goal is to kill the WFP and eliminate an independent progressive voice in New York State. This proposal would affect all third parties in New York including the Greens, Conservatives, and Independence.

We are asking residents to call their State Legislators to demand the Legislature reject the fusion recommendations of the State Commission. The Legislature has the power to reject the recommendations but must do it no later than in December. Fusion is a constitutionally protected voting right. It has been part of New York’s elections since before the Civil War. Politicians have attempted to eliminate or restrict fusion voting three times. Each time, the NYS Court of Appeals has blocked those attempts and ruled that voters have a Constitutional right to vote for the candidate and the party of their choice. An unelected commission does not have the power to tamper with this constitutionally protected right. Fusion is good for democracy.

Not everyone fits neatly into the Democratic or Republican party box. Citizens who support a “third” party still deserve the right to participate in politics in a meaningful and effective way. Fusion is that way. Fusion allows third party members and supporters to vote without “spoiling” (helping elect their least-preferred candidate) or wasting their vote on a candidate with no chance of actually winning. Under the state’s fusion system, voters can vote for a candidate who can actually win but also vote for that candidate on a party-line whose values they want to support.

Banning fusion is contrary to the commission’s goal: to strengthen our democracy. The goal of this Commission is to strengthen and expand our democracy by establishing a system of low-dollar, public financing of elections and reduce the power of big money in politics. The goal of this Commission should NOT be to undermine or end New York’s fusion voting system. Doing so would be a huge mistake — and a huge step in the opposite direction, weakening our democracy.

There is no public demand among the citizenry to ban or weaken our fusion voting system. The Commission was formed in response to citizen activists calling for an end to big money dominance in New York State politics. There has been no such outcry to tamper with fusion. On the contrary, seventeen New York members of Congress including Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; US Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren; nineteen national progressive organizations; twenty-six New York State Senators; and hundreds more local elected officials strongly support fusion voting.

TELLING OUR STORIES TO ARCHIVE THE RIGHT TO HEALTHCARE

The for-profit privatized healthcare system is hurting all of us — and it’s gone on far too long. In order to win healthcare for all, we must build a movement that includes everyone who stands to benefit from a transformation in the healthcare system. Our stories are our most powerful tool to fight for the right to healthcare and the many other changes our communities need.

Join the Campaign for New York Health, Citizen Action of New York, and Indivisible Mohawk Valley for a participatory training on how sharing our healthcare stories can help us be more effective advocates for universal healthcare and leaders for social change.

The training will be held on Saturday, November 16 from 1 pm- 3:30 pm at Citizen Action of CNY, 500 Plant Street, Utica (corner of Tracy Street, on Oneida Square, located in Cornerstone Church). For transportation or childcare, contact Ursula (315) 414-7720 by Thursday, November 14. Funding is provided by the Health Foundation of Western and Central NY.

Through training, we seek to develop the advocacy leadership of New Yorkers most impacted by inequities in healthcare. One million New Yorkers are uninsured and 50% of New Yorkers with insurance struggle to get care. Women, people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, and LGTBQ people are negatively impacted.

John Furman can be reached at cnycitizenaction@gmail.com.

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