In New York, most candidates for office seek the blessing of political party bosses before they even announce they’re running. That’s because in New York, getting a candidate on the ballot can be challenging, and Party bosses are the gatekeeper to that process. That means Party bosses call many of the shots, deciding what candidate can run for what offices, punishing candidates that don’t toe the Party line and stifling democracy in the process. However, outside of the two major parties, there is a way for candidates and voters to stick it to the bosses.
Few folks realize that candidate vote totals on all ballot lines are combined through a process called Fusion Voting. For example, a candidate’s vote totals on the Republican and Conservative line are combined for candidate’s the total vote count. This is an important aspect of voting in New York, as various ballot lines can be secured by different Parties and groups that represent different priorities and issues. If a candidate secures other ballot lines, they can impact a race significantly, regardless of what a Party boss thinks.
For example, for years, there were as many as nine different ballot lines for candidates to be listed upon and these lines represented a variety of issues voters cared about. These interests range from lowering taxes, to opposing Common Core, to even the Rent Is Too High. These specific issues-oriented ballot lines are important because voters’ voices were even louder — by making their selection, a voter could not just choose a candidate, but also speak out on specific issues they were passionate about. Our Founder, Martin Babinec recently wrote the Buffalo News on this topic. If you’re interested in learning more about Fusion Voting, there’s a great white paper on the Brennan Center for Justice’s website that explains it.
Unite NY is seeking our own Statewide ballot line so that candidates seeking common sense solutions can be clearly identified on the ballot and voters of all Parties can vote them into office. This will allow voters to know they will be electing candidates they can trust to stand up for what’s right — not just what Party bosses demand.