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In NY: Setback for Conservative Party and Working Families Party

The full decision is posted as a pdf at Ballot Access News: here.

(excerpt from) Newsday
Court ruling a mutual setback for Conservatives, Working Families

by Dan Janison

Two ideological foes — the Conservative Party and Working Families Party — found common ground recently by jointly suing to change one of the aspects of the new voting system. The problem for both: When a voter marks the same candidate’s name but on two ballot lines, the machines count the vote — once — but put it in the tally of the larger political party…Thus minor parties could lose votes toward preserving their standing status on the ballot.

A court injunction has now been refused in the case — a setback for the odd-coupling of parties…

“This is obviously a crucial problem in the Gubernatorial race. If someone fills in both the D and WF ovals for Cuomo, it won’t count towards our 50,000 vote requirement.”…

For analysis of this decision by ballot access expert Richard Winger, see his post at Ballot Access News:

“U.S. District Court Judge Won’t Issue Injunction in Conservative/Working Families Party Case on How to Count Votes When Voter Double Votes” / October 17th, 2010


  1. Kimberly Wilder Kimberly Wilder October 16, 2010

    I am very interested in what other people think about this situation.

    Under the old voting machines in New York (and I think in any reasonable system), if a candidate tried to vote “two times for the same office”, it would not work. So, if you tried to vote for Andrew Cuomo on the Democratic line and Andrew Cuomo on the Working Families line as well, I believe the lever would just not go down.

    It seems like when you vote on an electronic or paper ballot, and you check two boxes for the same office, your vote should either A. Be discarded or B. Go back to you to fix.

    But, amazingly, it seems that the NY State machines are designed that a person votes for Andrew Cuomo on the Working Families line and Andrew Cuomo on the Democratic line, the machine (and the BOE and the programmers), arbitrarily decide to accept your vote, and give it to Cuomo on the Democratic line.

    That would make it really hard for the Independence Party, Working Families Party and Conservative Party to collect the votes they need — 50,000 votes for Governor — to get automatic ballot status.

    On the other hand…

    Those parties got into this predicament by using their “independent body” and their body line and constituents to rubber stamp a duopoly candidate. So, maybe they deserve what they are getting?

    Also, if the court does it the way the WFP and Con want it, then their parties get an advantage in supporting their candidates that the truly independent parties do not. If someone voted for the Green Party Governor candidate and the Freedom Party Governor candidate, their vote would be canceled.

    And, if someone wanted to express at the polls “I want Andrew Cuomo to win” but…I support the Green Party platform, they could not do it, though they could with the Working Families platform under the weird new way that the BOE wants to count the votes.

    What do you think is fair?

    What do you think would benefit third parties more?

  2. pete healey pete healey October 17, 2010

    There are important issues of ballot access and fairness in New York’s election system, and this isn’t one of them. Let them bitch and moan all they want, this is just “insider trading”. Screw these dependent surrogates for the major parties, and focus on how third (and fourth, and fifth, and sixth, etc.) parties can benefit from changes in New York’s election laws. And then let’s get to work on them.

  3. Richard Winger Richard Winger October 17, 2010

    Anyone who wants to read the 6-page denial of relief can do so at The denial was based not on the merits, but because the lawsuit was filed too late. The judge says the law has required this for some time and the parties should have known months earlier there would be a problem. The lawsuit will continue but with no relief for this coming election.

  4. Mike Drucker Mike Drucker October 18, 2010

    The NY BOE knew about this on 2/18/2010. I have been complaining about this for awhile. Around this time the Board was deciding how to show the voter an OVERVOTE and what actions to take. So they had to reprogram the optical scanners and could have fixed this problem at the same time. The other interesting part of this problem is they did not follow the NY Election law.

    Remember, New York is a FUSION state, where all the votes for a candidate on all the party lines are added to the candidates total.

    The interesting part of this issue is the wording of the complaint and the judges order. The complaint says: New York Election law 9-112(4) provides that the vote is counted towards the first party on the ballot line. But that is not how the optical scanner is programmed. The vote will go to the first filled in oval on the line. So if two minor party ovals are filled in, the first parties oval will be counted.

    Ex. – Andrew Coumo is on the Democratic, Independence Party (IP), and the Working Family Party (WFP) lines for Governor. If the oval for the IP and WFP were filled in, IP would get the vote.

  5. pete healey pete healey October 18, 2010

    So, Andrew Cuomo gets three separate lines on the ballot BEFORE any of the minor party candidates get mentioned, and some of THEM are mixed onto a single line, and the font is so small it’s barely readable, and … you can’t expect me to give a damn about a couple thousand people who make mistakes in their votes and the Conservatives and Working Families are inconvenienced. This is little more than pandering to the major parties, because after all that’s who these parties support almost exclusively. Damn it!

  6. alan alan October 25, 2010

    Good grief people you blind to the real issue her. If a so called “party” nominates the same candidates as a larger party then it isn’t really a party. Take a look at the Working Families Party row on a 2010 Connecticut ballot for instance – it is identical to the Democrat row. The WFP is nothing but a way for sneaky Democrat candidates to add a brand name.

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