Why New York Needs Healthy Small Parties

The shocking allegations against four more elected officials in New York are depressing — but they provide an opportunity for bold action by our state leaders. Gov. Cuomo has proposed a new, comprehensive campaign finance law, including the creation of a voluntary, small-donor public financing system and an independent enforcement unit.

That’s the good news. But the governor’s bold proposal could be sidetracked by more timid and less helpful “reforms” now being considered in Albany, including at least one recommended by Cuomo himself. Responding to the latest arrests, some have called on New York to get rid of a process known as “fusion” voting, which has had nothing to do with the dozens of previous scandals over the last several years.

In New York, any party can endorse candidates that are members of other parties, through a process called “Wilson-Pakula.” This adds great value to our democracy by allowing smaller parties — like the Conservative, Independence or Working Families parties — to back Democrats and Republicans when they agree with their platforms.

Fusion voting has been an important part of New York’s electoral history. Without it, Mayors Fiorello LaGuardia, John Lindsay and Rudy Giuliani would not have been elected. All three needed votes from third-party voters to secure victory.