Third parties in New York State fight for their ballot status

Nov. 3 marked the first election since ballot status requirements changed statewide.

Despite recent legislative changes, two New York third parties will retain their ballot status.

In 2019, Gov. Cuomo changed the rules for how many votes a third party needs to maintain their ballot status. Third parties previously needed to receive 50,000 votes every four years. Now, third parties must receive 2% of the vote, around 130,000 votes, for the governor or presidential race every two years.

Out of the five New York State third parties, the Working Families Party and the Conservative Party earned enough votes to maintain their status.

The New York Working Families Party announced on Twitter that they received 250,000 votes by 8:30 p.m. EST on Nov. 3.

“Thank you for protecting our political home,” tweeted The New York Working Families Party.

These votes do not include absentee ballots, which may alter the exact 2% threshold the party needs to meet, but it is assumed that the Working Families party will meet it.

Conservative Party Chairman Gerad Kassar said in a statement he “was certain [the party] would remain our official status.”

The Conservative Party, formed in 1962, is the third largest political party in New York state with 150,000 members.

The Working Families Party is a grassroots party founded in 1998. It is composed of individual members, organizations, unions and social movements on a state and national level.

According to their website, they “organize outside the two parties, and then [they] recruit and train people-powered candidates up and down the ballot.” But they also run candidates through the Democratic party. In the most recent election, former Vice President Joe Biden was their nominee for president.

The Conservative Party, similarly, endorsed incumbent President Trump.

Third parties in New York state are allowed to endorse candidates from other parties due to fusion voting. Fusion voting allows minority parties to form interparty coalitions to then endorse major candidates.

These endorsements potentially helped them. According to the Gotham Gazette, the Working Families Party received 4.42% of about 6.5 million votes for the Biden and Harris ticket. The Conservative Party received 3.83% of the votes for the Trump and Pence ticket.

Fusion voting allowed for each party to also have many chances to gain votes under other races as well. The Working Families Party endorsed 84 candidates for Congressional and State Assembly races while the Conservative Party endorsed 117 candidates across the ballot.

Though the Working Families Party as of Feb. 2020 only has around 50,000 members, the party’s supporter base includes some notable figures. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) were vocal about maintaining the party’s ballot status. Ironically enough, Ballotpedia does not list Ocasio-Cortez as one of the Working Families Party endorsements.

In 2018, actress Cynthia Nixon ran for the Democratic nominee for governor under the New York Working Families Party ticket. While she did not win, it did give clout to the third party option.

The party also gained traction on social media, with an infographic about their efforts to remain on the ballot that circulate on Instagram (similar to the many infographics that have gone viral this year). They have over 67,000 followers on Twitter and 31,000 followers on Instagram.

Other third parties in New York include the Independence Party, Green Party, Libtertarian Party and Serve America Movement (SAM). Given the amount of New York state reporting, these parties are unlikely to maintain their ballot status.

According to the AP, 80% of the state is reporting their votes. The Green Party has only received 0.4% of the vote for their presidential candidate, Howie Hawkins. Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen received 0.7% of the vote. Independence Party nominee Brock Pierce received under 1% of the vote.

Parties that have lost their ballot status need to go through a signature collection process to feature any candidates on the ballot. Previously, they would only need 15,000 signatures. Under the new legislation, they would now need 45,000 signatures.

All third parties will need to prove their voting numbers again in the 2022 gubernatorial election.