NY Deserves Better Options at the Polls

One of the most frustrating outcomes of this wild and confusing political year in New York is that, for only the second time in our history, voters will have only two choices for Governor in 2022.  The last time this occurred was 1946, when Governor Dewey defeated US Senator James Mead of Buffalo to win re-election. Now, 76 years later, New York voters will once again be left with only two candidates for the state’s highest office.

So, in an age of unlimited choice, when a person can go online and choose from multiple different slippers shaped like loaves of bread, we are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils when it comes to who will lead our state.

2022 started off with great promise, with no fewer than 10 candidates seeking the two major party lines, and many others pursuing minor and independent lines thanks to New York’s progressive use of fusion voting. Fusion voting allows candidates to be listed on different party lines, but then combines that candidate’s vote total when determining a winner. This unique approach allows voters to give voice to the issues most important to them by letting them vote for candidates who run on lines aligned with causes closest to them.

Unfortunately, in 2020, former Governor Andrew Cuomo convinced the State Legislature to TRIPLE the threshold for a candidate to get on the ballot from 15,000 signatures to 45,000. This—along with a new requirement to get at least 2% of the final vote in November—

effectively killed seven (7) of New York’s nine (9) minor parties, leaving only the Conservative and Working Families Parties, which are generally recognized as mere extensions of the Republican and Democratic Parties. 

Despite the best efforts of Unite NY and six other independent bodies, no organization was able to secure the required 45,000 signatures needed for a spot on the ballot. Unite was able to secure just under 30,000 signatures—nearly double the prior minimum. This was more signatures than all but two major party candidates secured, but by new established state standards, these signatures weren’t enough.

This sends a very clear message to New Yorkers: Your voices don’t matter.

No one can justifiably argue that the exclusion of independent ballot lines does anything in alignment with the desires of voters. One need only to look at the pitiful turnout on Primary Day, where 13% of registered Democrats and around 16% of registered Republicans bothered to cast a ballot. In fact, in a hotly contested four-way race for the GOP line, fewer people voted for the eventual winner than live in the City of Buffalo.

When the establishment effectively disenfranchises hundreds of thousands of people,  it’s not very hard to figure out why people are no longer voting.

This makes fundamental change more important than ever. New Yorkers deserve more choices and to have their voices heard. That’s what Unite NY is fighting for—and we need your help. Sign up to join our dedicated team of reformers today.