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William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Category: New York (page 1 of 4)

Legal Voter Suppression in New York?: Part I

By: Michael A. Villacrés 

In April 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders was closely chasing Hillary Clinton in the delegate race to capture the Democratic presidential nomination. The Sanders campaign staged outdoor rallies and made campaign stops across New York City in an ambitious bid to upset Clinton on her home turf.  Sanders was hoping that increased voter turnout from young people across the city, especially in Brooklyn, his former childhood home, would provide enough votes to counter Clinton’s strength among minority voters.  As it turned out, Clinton won handily 57% to 42%. 

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New York, Fusion Voting, and Gary Johnson – What’s an Independence-Libertarian to do?

By: Caiti Anderson

There is no state quite like New York – and not many election laws quite like New York’s, either. As one example, only New York and six other states permit fusion voting. On a fusion ballot, a candidate can be listed as candidate for more than one party. Fusion voting, as noted the 1997 Supreme Court decision of Timmons v. Twin Cities Area New Party, had its heyday during the Gilded Age. Political parties, rather than governmental entities, distributed their own ballots to voters but did not affirmatively tell voters what other parties endorsed the same candidate(s) they supported. Thus, Candidate Smith could be supported by both the Granger and Republican parties, but those who voted the Granger ballot would not necessarily know from the ballot the Granger party handed them that the Republican Party also supported Smith.

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The Big Apple and Big Money: Matching Public Funds in New York City

By: Caiti Anderson

It seems that New York politicians can’t catch a break – or they just can’t stop getting caught for their indiscretions. Celia Dosamantes, a 25-year-old rising star in Queens, learned this the hard way. Arrested on September 7, 2016, Ms. Dosamantes allegedly forged campaign donations to receive the 6-for-1 matching funds during her failed 2015 run for City Council. While other news organization will surely cover Ms. Dosamantes scandalous trial, New York City’s unique and progressive campaign finance laws stand at the center of this story, and deserve recognition.

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Minor v. Happersett: The Supreme Court and Women’s Suffrage

By: Caiti Anderson
Following the Civil War, the women’s suffrage movement followed two different paths to gain the right to vote. The American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) advocated a state-by-state approach to suffrage, lobbying individual states to pass laws allowing women to vote. On the other hand, the more radical organization, the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), pushed women’s suffrage on a national scale. After the Fifteenth Amendment excluded women, NWSA leaders brainstormed other ways women could gain suffrage, including an additional amendment. However, there were some who believed that the equal rights clause of the Fourteenth Amendment already granted women the right to vote. In order to prove this, the women’s suffrage movement needed a woman to attempt to register to vote. Upon being turned away, this woman would sue and continually appeal until her case came before the Supreme Court. As one of the architects of this plan, Virginia Minor fit the description perfectly.

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NY Loophole Allows Individual’s $4.3 Million in Direct Contributions, Part II

By: Dan Carroll

As detailed in a recent State of Elections post, a misguided 1996 New York State Board of Elections (BOE) decision treating limited liability companies (LLCs) as individual people rather than corporate entities. The decision allows LLCs to directly contribute up to $60,800 to an individual candidate for statewide office while traditional corporate entities are limited to $5,000 in aggregate contributions to all candidates in a year. LLCs need not disclose the identities of their founders, membership or officers, so their political activities are difficult to link to their funders.

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The Trial of Susan B. Anthony: A Book Review

By: Caiti Anderson

SBAThe women’s suffrage movement developed and empowered some of the most infamous women in American history. The name Susan B. Anthony is inextricably linked to the effort to expand voting rights. Although many can recognize Anthony as an important leader in the suffrage movement, remarkably few know that she voted in the 1872 presidential election and was subsequently arrested for illegal voting. Her trial made national news and marked the initial use of civil disobedience within the women’s suffrage movement. Martin Naparsteck explores Anthony’s trial in the book, The Trial of Susan B. Anthony: An Illegal Vote, a Courtroom Conviction and a Step Toward Women’s Suffrage.

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Fusion Voting in Up Close: A Look at the Independence Party of New York

By: David Schlosser

Last year Brad Smith provided this blog with a post that gives an overview of fusion voting laws in New York State. In this post I would like to look into a case study that, for some, sheds some doubt on the desirability of fusion voting laws.

The Independence Party of the State of New York (IPNY) is a minor party that states on its website, “candidates and elected officials should be free to tell the voters what their views are, without dictates from political party bosses, special interest groups and restrictive party platforms.” With this in mind, in most elections the IPNY has preferred to endorse major party candidates under the fusion voting system, rather than nominate their own (they last endorsed Andrew Cuomo for governor, for instance). Because of fusion voting laws, the IPNY appears on the ballot year-in year-out, despite this general (though not absolute) refusal to nominate separate candidates. This is coupled with a lack of discernable political position, which sharply contrasts to many of New York’s other minor parties that owe their existence to the fusion system, such as the Conservative Party (on the right) and the Working Families Party (on the left). One New York Times columnist called the IPNY, “a bizarre amalgam of right-wing populists married to black leftists and once led by Fred Newman, a Marxist therapist…” In the party’s defense, its website does include a few statements on policy positions, such as an opposition to Common Core and a support for the Dream Act.

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NY Loophole Allows Individual’s $4.3 Million in Direct Contributions

By: Dan Carroll

Given the controversy surrounding the Supreme Court’s decisions upending federal campaign finance law in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the average voter might be surprised to find out that federal law still prohibits corporations from making direct contributions to candidates for federal office and limits the amount individuals can contribute to a particular campaign. On the other hand, twenty-two states allow but limit direct contributions from corporations to candidates for state office.

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New York’s Battle with Campaign Finance Reform

By Fahad Naheem

New York stands on the frontlines of one of the most contested election law issues that faces our country today. In his State of the State Address, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that New York must take affirmative steps to fix campaign finance rules to address the “epidemic of corruption in the legislature.” Governor Cuomo worries that the public is rapidly losing trust in the political system because election laws are slanted in favor of the rich and the wealthy. The New York Legislature is viewed as one of the most corrupt, dysfunctional, and broken legislative bodies in the country as detailed in a report by the Brennan Center for Justice. According to the report, New York has tried several initiatives to fix the structure and functioning of the legislature but to no avail. That is why Governor Cuomo’s call for campaign finance reform is both crucial and necessary to ameliorate the current the negative public perception. Governor Cuomo firmly states that without any trust in the political process, the public will not work with the government and vote for tax reform, public school renovations, and other important matters. Continue reading

New York: Giving Power to the People

By Fahad Naeem

“It’s not the hand that signs the laws that holds the destiny of America. It’s the hand that casts the ballot.” The power given to voters to choose who gets elected to office is a vast and important right to protect. The people vote for candidates that best represent the interests and perform the duties required of their offices. However, states can steal that power from citizens by allowing state legislators or the governor to appoint officers for vacant positions, as New York had done in its state constitution. New York’s constitution effectively deprived voters of the ability to elect a candidate of their choice. The Attorney General and Comptroller positions can be occupied from several months to several years without any check or say by the voters. That provision was inconsistent with the goal articulated by New York’s constitution in Article 1 Section 1 which states:  “No member of this state shall be disfranchised, or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof . . .” Continue reading

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