Ian Wilder of onthewilderside* writes: The Green Party press release below points out that Governor Cuomo is looking to make bad law worse in the name of making it better. New York has a terrible party system, where the same candidate can clog up the ballot running on a multitude of lines. There are 2 ways for that candidate to get on the lines of parties that she does not belong to: 1) The party leadership signs a Wilson-Pakula form allowing the non-enrollee to run on their line. 2) The candidate gets party members to sign a petition to open up a write-in primary called an Opportunity to Ballot.
Cuomo is looking to get rid of the Wilson-Pakula form (Method 1)so that non-enrollees can raid third party lines. I would celebrate it if Cuomo was getting rid of Wilson-Pakulas to stop corporately-funded candidates from using their
bribes corporate donations from stealing the lines of minor parties (parties who often don’t have the funds to fight court battles). Cuomo is trying to make his proposal sound like a road to more grassroots democracy. But, in fact, his plan is actually a method of decreasing ballot choice and turning the ballot lines over to the best-funded, least ethical candidates. Prior experience that local Green Party members have had with Opportunity to Ballot petitions has shown the danger of opening up ballot lines with no protections.
We have had experience with local Republican judge candidates tricking local Green Party enrollees into signing their Opportunity to Ballot petitions (method 2) to get onto the Green Party ballot line. The Republican candidate never explained what their party registration was or what the petition was for. The Green Party members just assumed that anyone bringing them petitions must be Green Party members also. When the Green Party members found out they had been deceived they worked, successfully, to keep the Republican from getting the Green Party line.
Let me be clear, I agree with the Green Party press release below. It makes no sense for a candidate to run on more than 1 party line. It just clogs up the ballot and creates what the Supreme Court calls “voter confusion.” New York’s fusion party line, where a candidate runs on more than one line, should be repealed completely.
But if the corporately controlled legislature and Governor don’t wish to repeal fusion party lines, then they should decrease — not increase — fraud upon voters. If the requirement for the Wilson-Pakula form is repealed, but fusion ballots are left in place, then steps must be taken to prevent fraud upon the voters. With the repeal of Wilson-Pakula, the legislature must protect the voters from fraud by requiring the registration of the candidate be placed on the top of the petition in large face bold type print.
Green Party Opposes Cuomo’s Unconstitutional Attacks on Political Parties
The Green Party said today [May 1, 2013] that the proposals by Governor Cuomo and the IDC [Independent Democratic Conference of the NY State Senate] to allow non-party members to petition their way into other parties’ primaries is unconstitutional, a violation of their first amendment rights. The Green Party pointed out that Cuomo’s proposal is similar to the existing opportunity to ballot law, which the Greens and other ballot law experts contend is unconstitutional. The existing law allows non-party members to force a primary with the opportunity for party members to write in any candidate they want by collecting signatures. Apparently what Cuomo and the IDC wants to do is make it even easier for major parties to raid third parties by allowing the usurper’s name to actually appear on the ballot without the need to write it in.
Green Party rules do not allow candidates of other ballot qualified parties to run on their ballot line. The Board of Elections in the last election failed to enforce the rule, and allowed two Senate Democrats to appropriate the Green Party line through an opportunity to ballot petition. “The Green Party and our members have a first amendment right to say that our candidates support our platform and refuse to accept contributions from corporate interests. Cuomo and the IDC aren’t interested in preventing
corruption. They just want to further weaken political parties and make it easier for the candidates with the most money to buy elections,” stated Gloria Mattera, Green Party Co-Chairperson.
Allowing candidates to run on the ballot line of parties that they don’t belong to just confuses voters. The Green Party asserts that both laws (the existing opportunity to ballot and the new proposal) violates their constitutional first amendment right to freedom of association to determine who represents their party. Prior court decisions strongly support the right of the Green Party to determine who represents them on the ballot (e.g., California Democratic Party v Jones (2000) and New York State Board of Elections v Lopez Torres (2008).
Cuomo and the IDC are pretending that they are responding to the present Wilson-Pakula line that allows party leaders to sanction non-party candidates to receive the nomination of their party. Senator Malcolm Smith, a member of the IDC, has been indicted for attempting to bribe Republican Party leaders in NYC to grant him a Wilson-Pakula. Rather than eliminating the ability of candidates to run in parties they don’t belong to, Cuomo and the IDC want to allow candidates to raid as many parties as they want.
Ian Wilder is the spouse of Kimberly Wilder, an IPR contributor. The Wilders write and blog together at onthewilderside.com.