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Bill in New York State Senate to Expand Ballot Access

Ballot access in New York is currently maintained by polling 50,000 votes for Governor, but a new state senate bill could change the rule to polling 50,000 votes for any statewide race–a requirement that is much easier to reach.

The state Senate may be offering a helping hand to the scandal-stained Working Families Party.

A plan – introduced anonymously last week – would make it easier for the labor-backed political party to keep its ballot line, even if Andrew Cuomo refuses the party’s nomination.

The proposal would grant permanent ballot status to a party that garners 50,000 votes in any statewide race. Current law requires a party to obtain at least 50,000 votes only in a governor’s race to keep its ballot line.

“It looks like a gift to the Working Families Party,” said NYPIRG’s Blair Horner, a good-government advocate.

Cuomo has been under pressure to decline the party’s nomination because of a criminal probe, and its ties to major labor unions and special interests. Senate spokesman Austin Shafran said the bill was introduced by chamber leaders, and denied it was intended as a gift to the Working Families Party.

“Any constituency that carries with it the support of 50,000 New Yorkers deserves to be heard in the electoral process,” he said.

The move comes as the party announced a series of changes to repair its reputation in the wake of allegations it illegally subsidized city campaigns last year.

Richard Winger adds that using this procedure, the Green Party of New York would be on the ballot.

About Post Author

Trent Hill


  1. Robert Robert June 5, 2010

    OK, I found out it just changes the definition of “political party” to one that polled 50,000+ for any office voted on by the whole state when governor & lt. gov. are on the ballot. So ballot order would still be determined by votes for that pair, it would still last for 4 yrs., and there would be no gain or loss of ballot status in years when US senator or presidential electors are the only statewide offices up.

  2. pete healey pete healey June 5, 2010

    I’ve pasted the actual wording below. It appears that any candidate for statewide office during a gubernatorial election year (including comptroller, attorney general, and presumably any US Senate candidate up for election during that year) can qualify a party for ballot status for four years if they poll 50,000 votes. You tell me if that is the correct reading, but remember the State Assembly doesn’t even have a companion bill, and it isn’t law until they pass one.

    Section 1. Subdivision 3 of section 1-104 of the election law is amended to read as follows:
    3. The term “party” means any political organization which at the last preceding election for governor polled at least fifty thousand votes for ANY OF its [candidate] CANDIDATES for [governor] STATEWIDE OFFICE.

    S 2. This act shall take effect immediately. EXPLANATION–Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD17574-01-0

  3. Robert Robert June 5, 2010

    What EXACTLY does the bill say? If it just changes the wording in the election law from “governor and lt. governor” to a listing or specif’n of all the offices voted on statewide, and it keeps the same wording referencing the last regular election for that office, then it would mean easier ballot access in some cases, harder in others. There would be more opp’ties to gain party ballot status, but more opp’ties to lose it too. So find out what it says!

  4. pete healey pete healey June 4, 2010

    An insider I know gives it better than even odds that both houses of the legislature will pass this bill in some form in the next thirty days. The Working Families Party is the ‘left wing of the Democratic Party’ and New York is a fusion state, where cross-endorsements from the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ (the Conservatives are active here too) can be important. Right now, only 50,000 votes for the governor/lt. governor ticket gets you ballot status (that’s about 1% of turnout usually). This bill might allow a strong attorney general or US Senate candidate to win you the automatic ballot status. Does that help Don Lake?

  5. Richard Cooper Richard Cooper June 3, 2010

    Had such a provision been enacted before 1992, then the Libertarain Party would have obtained ballot status in 1992 with Norma Segal for US Senate.

  6. Eric Sundwall Eric Sundwall June 3, 2010

    No way Albany will pull this off before Nov., but I’ll cross my fingers anyway . . .

  7. Kimberly Wilder Kimberly Wilder June 3, 2010


    Greens who were not motivated by trying to get 50,00o votes on the governor line, or who were not thrilled with the GPNYS Governor candidate, might wake up to support one of the other statewide candidates!

    (I know it sweetens the pot for me!)


    Don’t tell anyone. But, in this effort to save WFP, and save the gentlemen’s agreement with the Dems, Reps, and WFP, they may just help the Green Party and the grassroots!


    Also, giving this other way to seek power might help steer Steve Levy the rest of the way from trying a third party run on the Governor’s line…
    And…it might give the Tea Party a better chance to become a party…and, it might make sense for Paladino and Levy to make a Gov/Senate ticket with a Tea Party force…


  8. Kimberly Wilder Kimberly Wilder June 3, 2010

    Thanks, Trent. This story is a whopper! Very important for third party politics here in NY.
    @ Pete Healy – Yes, very interesting. The Green Party would have been an automatic ballot status party if this was in effect last time around!
    @Gene Berkman – Very cool irony you point out. Andrew Cuomo seems to be in the middle of lots of stuff!

  9. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman June 3, 2010

    Ironic that this bill is intended to help the Working Families Party in case Andrew Cuomo declines their nomination.

    The Liberal Party lost ballot status in 2002 because Andrew Cuomo accepted their nomination; after he lost the Democrat primary, he ended his campaign for Governor, but did not do the paperwork to take his name off the Liberal Party line. With him on their ticket after he stopped being a candidate, the Liberals polled 15,000 votes for Governor and lost ballot status after 58 years.

  10. LibertarianBlue LibertarianBlue June 3, 2010

    Looks like Albany is doing something productive for once.

  11. pete healey pete healey June 3, 2010

    Richard Winger isn’t exactly right. If the rule were in effect 4 years ago, the Green Party would have ballot status now. But the Greens have a long way to go this year to reach the 50,000 mark for any of their candidates. And the State Assembly hasn’t introduced a similar bill, so this is far from a done deal. Blair Horner is correct, Cuomo won’t accept the Working Family endorsement, and that party is nothing without the Democrats.

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