Jacobs said to propose hurdle for third parties

Jay Jacobs, the New York state Democratic chairman, has proposed that a political party  be required to obtain 250,000 votes every two years to hold a spot on the ballot, according to The New York Times.  

The proposed number is five times higher than the current requirement of 50,000 votes every four years that are needed.

According to the Times, Jacobs, who is also the Nassau County Democratic chairman, was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to a panel in charge of developing a public campaign finance system. On Oct. 16, Jacobs reportedly sent an email to members of the panel outlining the proposed plan.

One of the most prominent third parties, the Working Families Party, could be significantly hurt by the proposal. In last year’s election, the party obtained only 114,000 gubernatorial votes.

Jacobs did not respond to requests for comment.

The nine-person panel, according to Cuomo, was established to find ways to save taxpayers money when it comes to public funding of candidates.

“You do have some clear issues, if you have seven political parties in the state and you go to public finance it, which is the goal, you could potentially be financing 1,000 candidates per election cycle,” Cuomo said on Oct. 29. “The public could be financing 1,000 races. Which is obviously politically and economically not feasible.”

Cuomo and the Working Families Party have endured some rifts, mainly stemming from the party’s choosing to endorse Cynthia Nixon in last year’s gubernatorial election.  

“This proposal comes from, of all places, a commission meant to improve our democracy,” U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) tweeted last week. “But attacking the @NYWFP is deeply undemocratic – and it will only benefit Republicans. No Democrat should allow this to pass.”

Warren, whose presidential bid is backed by the W.F.P, was not the only prominent politician to criticize the plan.

State GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy said in an Oct. 29 news release: “This is Cuomo’s attempt to legally rig elections and he put the fox in charge of the hen house. Jay Jacobs is a gentleman, but Cuomo’s hired gun has no business dictating how $100 million in tax dollars are spent or how our democratic process is conducted.” 

Recent election history cited by Politico shows that in New York the only third party that has been able to surpass 250,000 votes in gubernatorial elections has been the Conservatives.  

“Conservatives have an awful lot of support,” Jacobs said. “There’s no question that they will have an easier time meeting these thresholds.”

According to Langworthy, the recommendations of the panel will be made public the day before Thanksgiving.  Unless state legislators convene for a special session within 20 days of the final report, the recommendations will become law.

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Robert Pelaez

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