As the legislative session in Albany is about to start, all three top elected leaders–Governor Andrew Cuomo, incoming Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie–have authored “Fair Elections” proposals to reduce the influence of big money in politics and give everyday New Yorkers a bigger voice in Albany.
Buffalo organizations held a press conference on Monday at noon on the steps of City Hall to call for vital reforms to campaign finance and voting laws. Participating organizations include Citizen Action of New York, Coalition for Economic Justice (CEJ), Open Buffalo, Buffalo DSA, Fair Elections for New York
Grassroots groups and local leaders around the state are holding local press conferences calling on them to prove their commitment by quickly passing comprehensive “Fair Elections” legislation that includes a small donor matching program, the closing of campaign finance loopholes, and comprehensive voting rights reform.
On Monday, over 50 national organizations–including the NAACP, MoveOn, and Ben & Jerry’s–signed a letter urging Governor Cuomo to pass Fair Elections reforms this year.
“The Governor and our elected leaders in the Legislature are on the record as strong supporters of fair elections,” said Jessica Wisneski, Co-Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York. “Now, New Yorkers from across the state are standing up and calling for the swift passage of fair elections reform. Our broken campaign finance laws can only be fixed by getting big money out of politics and empowering small dollar donors, and that is what fair elections would accomplish.”
The diverse and growing Fair Elections for New York campaign includes over 177 community, labor, tenant, immigrant, racial justice, environment, faith, good government, and grassroots resistance organizations. Full list of supporters is here.
The recommended reforms are similar to proposals Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Heastie have supported over the years—consistently blocked by Republicans in the Senate—and reflect the recommendations of the 2013 Moreland Commission on Public Corruption. The proposed Fair Elections reform package includes:
Small donor public financing. A small donor matching system for candidates in state elections, including District Attorneys, like the successful program in New York City. Includes $6-to-$1 public matching on small dollar donations, enforcement, and robust candidate support services to help anyone running for office comply with the law. Governor Andrew Cuomo, Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Carl Heastie have all authored small donor matching systems proposals in the past.
Limiting the influence of big money. Close the “LLC loophole,” which allows anyone to funnel unlimited money into our elections and conceal the donor’s identity. Also, reduce New York’s unusually high contribution limits to restrict how much money wealthy donors can give to candidates and committees, among other improvements.
Making it easier, not harder, to vote. Including but not limited to automatic voter registration, early voting, same day registration, online voter registration, no excuse absentee voting, new party enrollment deadlines, pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, full voting access for people with disabilities, and codify into law New York’s new policy to extend voting rights to all New Yorkers with past criminal convictions.