For Immediate Release: July 23, 2019
Fair Elections Campaign Statement on Fusion Voting Lawsuits
Albany– The Fair Elections for New York campaign issued the following statement in response to the Working Families and Conservative Parties’ lawsuits filed today challenging The Public Financing of Elections Commission’s ability to eliminate New York’s fusion voting law:
“We respect the right of these parties to challenge an inappropriate attack on fusion voting via the Public Financing of Elections Commission. We believe strongly that any attempt to weaken or scrap fusion by this Commission is at best an irrelevant distraction from the central stated statutory goal of the Commission: ‘to examine, evaluate and make recommendations for new laws with respect to how the State should implement…a system of voluntary public campaign financing for state legislative and statewide public offices.’
“If Speaker Heastie and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins are serious about meaningful campaign finance reform with a small donor matching program, and want to see a strong public financing of elections law in place by the end of the year, they will quickly introduce ‘same-as’ legislation in their respective houses. They must be ready to pass legislation in the event that this challenge prevents the Commission from acting. According to past votes, public statements and bill sponsorship, there are already majorities of support in each house.”
After a massive grassroots effort by the over 200 groups supporting the Fair Elections for New York campaign to pass public financing in the budget, campaign finance reform became a top budget issue. The responsibility now rests with our elected leaders in Albany to ensure we end this year with a strong small donor public financing program, whether through the Commission or legislative action.
The Fair Elections campaign has argued that to ensure that the Commission is set up to implement the best policy solutions it should, among other things, be transparent, independent, provide sufficient opportunity for public input, avoid engaging in irrelevant topics like fusion voting, and be comprised of a diverse group of knowledgeable individuals who support public financing. The campaign has called for interim reports, multiple public hearings and a fully-staffed Commission. Otherwise, the Commission could create a weak law and let elected officials off the hook for their responsibility to ensure New York implements a real public financing system.
The Legislature should already be preparing and introducing legislation per the Commission’s enabling statute being challenged today. The Legislature provided themselves a 20-day window to ‘amend or abrogate’ the Commission’s otherwise binding recommendations. The Legislature will only be able to act within that short window, or in the event of a court decision that stops the commission’s work, if they prepare now. Learn more at FairElectionsNY.org
New Yorkers deserve a responsive, accountable government. Voter turnout in New York is among the lowest in the nation, due in part to antiquated procedures for registration and voting that discourage participation. And our campaign finance system favors the wealthy over everyday, working New Yorkers. To tackle the crises we face in housing, living wage jobs, criminal justice, affordable health care, transportation, climate, fair taxes, and more, we must transform a campaign finance system that advantages the interests of the few over those of the many.
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