Working to stay on the ballot line
Oct 28, 2020 | 7068 views | 0 0 comments | 949 949 recommendations | email to a friend | print
New York City voters are turning out in record numbers to take part in early voting this year, and we bet a majority of those are Democrats energized by the desire to vote Donald Trump out of office.

But the Working Families Party is hoping to persuade some of those early voters to cast their ballot for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, but do it a little further down the ballot.

In New York State, the Biden-Harris ticket is not only on the Democratic line on this year’s ballot, but also on the Working Families Party line.

The Working Families Party is one of the few third parties in the state that has had some success. Fro example, Attorney General Letitia James won her first election – a City Council race in 2003 – by running on the WFP line.

In 2016, the party took a gamble – likely emboldened by the shocking victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Joseph Crowley, a longtime congressman and head of the Queens Democratic Party at the time - and backed actress Cynthia Nixon over Governor Andrew Cuomo in the primary. Nixon eventually lost.

Not long after, state law was changed to require that third parties, which also includes parties like the Conservative, Libertarian and Green, must receive 2 percent of the vote in a presidential election to maintain their line on the ballot.

Experts estimate that would mean each party would have to receive about 150,000 votes this year, or about three times as much as previously required.

WFP leadership immediately blamed Cuomo for the change, arguing that he was upset the party backed his challenger, a claim the Cuomo camp has vigorously denied.

Now the party is working to make sure that it remains a small but formidable voice in state politics. In fact, as the politic makeup of New York skews increasingly Democratic, the WFP just might have more influence in some races than the GOP.

The party launched a mail and digital ad campaign imploring people to vote on their line instead of the Democratic line in this year’s elections. The campaign features Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

The party also had a strong showing in June when it helped elect a number of progressive candidate to the state legislature, defeating several longtime incumbents, but losing its ballot line would significantly decrease the party’s ability to influence local, state and federal elections.

Candidates would be far less compelled to seek support from the WFP if they can’t ensure that their name will not only appear on the Democratic line, but also on another line a few rows down on the ballot.

Much as Republicans look to the Conservative Party for their support to appeal to a certain type of voter, Democrats also vie for WFP backing. If the Working Families Party ad campaign is a failure, New York State could get a lot more bipartisan.

Although with the huge wins by Democrats in the state legislature this year, New York is quickly becoming a one-party state.
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