Greens, unlike other third parties, call for an end to fusion voting
ALBANY, Ny — Most of the state's minor parties are on red alert as the state considers an end to fusion voting — both the Working Families and Conservative parties have filed lawsuits seeking to block the Public Campaign Financing Commission from even considering the subject.
But one third party is urging the commission to abolish the practice.
By Bill Mahoney
September 13, 2019
"The Green Party has always maintained that political parties should run candidates on their own lines," the party's state co-chair Peter LaVenia said. "Candidates should run on party platforms, not the cross-endorsement game that we see, which is often a horse-trading patronage game that the Working Families, Conservative and Independence parties tend to play."
The Greens have been an official party in New York since Howie Hawkins first topped 50,000 votes in the 2010 gubernatorial election. Unlike every other well-established party in New York, the candidates it supports run on just one ballot line.
But, ironically, the party's official status makes it easier for candidates it doesn't back to occasionally steal the line. Enrolled members can force a primary by collecting the signatures of only 5 percent of the party's members in a district. And since enrollment in the Greens is still relatively low, a major party contender can often do that by collecting just a handful of signatures.
That means a candidate could theoretically have a few friends switch enrollment to the Green Party and have enough support to win that line. Something like that seems to have happened in Troy in June's primaries — Democrat Rodney Wiltshire outpolled C.J. Chapman, an actual Green Party member, 30-to-19 and won the line. Republican Carmella Mantello won the party's nomination for City Council president.
In 2016, Republican state Sen. George Amedore (R-Rotterdam) defeated Democrat Sara Niccoli in the party's primary after Green enrollment in Hunter suddenly surged, and the town's members backed Amedore 39-to-0.
"Just here in the Capital District alone, we've had dozens of [opportunities to ballot] where Democrats and Republicans have tried to steal our lines over the past few years," LaVenia said. "It seems to us after we door-knocked a considerable amount in Troy that the Republican Party in Troy has re-registered people in the Green Party for the sole purpose of winning the line."
And the maneuvers like that, he thinks, can create confusion and hinder the growth of independent third parties.
"We think that it's more democratic to run on one line," LaVenia said. "These other parties besides the Greens are not, to us, really parties. They're kind of cross-endorsement machines for the Democrats and Republicans."