Non-Partisan Organization Commits Substantial Resources to Advocating for Democracy Reform in 2024
Albany, NY (December 19, 2023) – Non-partisan Unite New York today announced that it will kick off a new “More Voices, More Choices” advocacy campaign in January of 2024 aimed at enacting meaningful democracy reform in New York state. The organization and its members are devoting time and significant financial resources to push for the passage of bills to create term limits, citizen ballot initiatives, increased ballot access, ranked choice voting and nonpartisan primaries.
Unite NY conducted four separate polls as part of the organization’s Voter Empowerment Index in 2023 that demonstrated these reforms are wildly popular with voters and will now turn the organization’s efforts to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to make these changes a reality in New York State.
Unite NY Executive Director Tim Dunn said, “It’s not a bold statement to say that democracy is a pretty good thing and while Unite NY believes that more democracy is even better, our democracy in New York is not one that has voters flocking to the polls. That’s why we are so excited to launch our new ‘More Voices, More Choices’ campaign. Unite NY leadership and members are now stepping up to put more time, money and energy into a campaign that will fight for reforms that give everyone a voice of hope to share with our friends and neighbors. We know there are true leaders in our State Legislature who already support these reforms and our organization is excited to work with them to build a bipartisan coalition that will make these changes a reality.”
Beginning early in 2024, Unite NY will be mobilizing its thousands of followers to call on Albany to embrace the “More Voices, More Choices” campaign to shift more power to the ballot box. The ultimate goal of the campaign will be to reform our electoral system to drive greater participation and make New York’s democracy an example for the nation. The campaign will use a variety of tactics, including dedicating significant financial resources to fund a digital ad campaign, direct mail, and walking the halls of the Capitol to lobby legislators to embrace democratic reform. The organization’s reform agenda has five pillars:
- Term limits for Statewide Office: In the last several years resignations and indictments have led to some of the most powerful elected officials leaving office in disgrace. Term limits stop offices from becoming a permanent seat of power – and more than 80% of New York voters support implementation.
- Citizen Ballot Initiatives: In about half the states in the Union, citizens can petition issues directly on the ballot for an up or down vote; this is already done at the local level. Nearly three-quarters of New York voters want the ability to directly decide on critical issues like abortion, criminal justice, redistricting, and ethics reform.
- Increased Ballot Access: In 2020, in the dark of night and under the guise of COVID relief, former Governor Cuomo convinced the Legislature to triple number of signatures needed to get on statewide ballot. The result is a system supported by less than 40% of voters that requires a candidate to gather more than 1,000 signatures a day to qualify for the ballot, while chosen candidates of the two parties don’t have to collect any. This significantly higher threshold effectively eliminated 5 minor party choices for voters.
- Instant Runoffs/Ranked Choice Voting: The implementation of Instant Runoffs in primaries in New York City drove an increase in voter turnout of more than 130,000. More than half of voters in New York City approve of this reform that empowers voters, dismantles the spoiler effect, and shifts power from party bosses directly into the hands of the people.
- Nonpartisan Primaries: More than 3.4 million unaffiliated voters cannot participate in primary elections which are consistently plagued by low turnout. Establishing non-partisan primaries has the support of more than two-thirds of New York voters and Unite NY supports Assemblymember Robert Carroll’s legislation (A. 479) that would establish RCV statewide while providing 3.4 million unaffiliated New Yorkers with a real voice by allowing them to participate in primary elections, something 40 other states permit in some form.
The More Voices, More Choices campaign will also include a series of events for Unite NY members and will initially run throughout the 2024 legislative session.