New York State Election Results Reaffirm the Need for Open Primaries

Wins by Independent Candidates Combined with Low Voter Participation Prove More Access is Needed to Return Power to the People

Albany, NY – Last week’s election results, featuring wins from two Unite NY backed candidates reaffirms the need for New York to enact significant election reforms to reengage voters and put people, not party politics, at the forefront of New York State elections.

Voters sent a strong message that they want leaders focused on results and not typical party politics by re-electing Ben Walsh as the Mayor of Syracuse and electing Scott Steve as the Mayor of Cortland, both of whom were backed by Unite NY. Unite NY ran an aggressive parallel digital advertising campaign supporting both candidates, which delivered more than 1.2 million impressions.

Meanwhile in Buffalo, Mayor Byron Brown won re-election as an independent, winning a write-in campaign that defeated the extreme candidate running on the Democratic line.  This victory, while not directly related to Unite NY, was a major rebuke of extreme politics, with Mayor Brown appearing to have won even more votes that in his 2017 reelection.

While these election victories are strong signals the electorate values independence, low voter turnout statewide, including voters in Upstate New York’s largest cities, clearly demonstrates voter apathy that is driven by a lack of choice and opportunity.

Unite NY Founder Martin Babinec said, “We want to congratulation Ben Walsh, Scott Steve, and Byron Brown on hard-fought wins and on campaigns that put people over politics. While these victories tell us our message is starting to resonate, we clearly need to do more to engage an electorate that feels like it doesn’t have choices or opportunities to participate in the system. Unite NY is deeply committed to providing voters with more choices via our push for increased ballot access and open primaries. While our results on election night were strong, there is a lot of work to accomplish and we’re just getting started.”

While Unite candidates scored significant wins, many more voters expressed displeasure through omission, with voter participation at historic lows. Syracuse had its second lowest voter turnout in 100 years. In Buffalo, only 40 percent of voters turned out even given the high-profile nature of the mayoral race, while in Monroe County, less than a quarter of voters participated on election night.

Unite NY is working to allow more people to participate in the electoral process, staunchly advocating for open primaries and fighting to lower the barriers to ballot access, which will provide more choice and give new voices and ideas to a system that presently is completely controlled by the political bosses in New York’s closed, two-party system.

Emphasizing this priority, Unite NY announced a major event on December 1, where John Zogby will reveal recent poll results showing overwhelming voter support for Open Primaries such as practiced in 42 other states but not New York. Tickets are available to purchase here.

About Unite NY

Unite NY is a political home in New York State for Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, and independents to come together to seek common sense solutions.  This movement also offers a home to more than 3.5 million New York voters not currently enrolled in a major party.  Focused on a non-partisan approach to fixing real problems in our government, democracy, and economy, Unite NY supports candidates who understand working together is the only way we can succeed.  Further, in 2022, Unite NY seeks to establish a ballot line by running a candidate for Governor to help fill the void created by our loss of 5 of the 7 minor parties previously holding statewide ballot access now eliminated from voter choice as the result of 2020 legislation which tripled the qualification hurdles needed to qualify as a minor party. Learn more at