New York’s Green Party state committee adopted rules over the weekend that affirmed the party will run its own candidates on its own Green Party line. Meeting in a Rensselaer church on Saturday, May 21, the Greens ruled out running fusion candidates who appear on the ballot lines of more than one party.
The practice of fusion or cross-endorsement is common among the other five ballot qualified parties – Democratic, Republican, Conservative, Working Families, Independence. The three minor parties usually nominate major party candidates to run on their ballot lines.
The Green Party also voted to make the peace sign their official ballot symbol to highlight their status as the only peace party on the ballot. The Greens have actively organized against the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya and call for a 50 to 75% cut in the military budget. Nonviolence is a core principle of the Green Party and was adopted as part of the party’s official principles, along with grassroots democracy, ecology and social and economic justice.
The Green Party’s rules also bar its candidates from accepting campaign contributions from for-profit businesses and their trade associations and PACs (political action committees).
“We intend to elect Greens with votes on the Green Party line. We are not another ballot line for the other parties. We are different. We are the alternative. We are challenging the two major corporate-funded parties as well as the minor parties that are satellites of the corporate parties through the practice of fusion,” said Howie Hawkins, a co-chair of the Green Party and its 2010 gubernatorial candidate.
“We believe our political independence builds more power to advance our policies than helping to elect the candidates of other parties. Running our own candidates makes the candidates of the other parties compete for Green votes. That gives us far more power to set the policy agenda than giving our votes away to other parties through fusion,” Hawkins added.
“Minor party advocates of fusion say voting for a major party candidate on their line shows support for their minor party’s policies. We believe the real message to the major party candidates is that the minor party’s members’ votes can be taken for granted because they will vote for them anyway on another line,” said Peter LaVenia, the other co-chair of the party.
“Minor party advocates of fusion also say that they cross-endorse the lesser evil of the major party candidates in order to stop the candidate they most fear. We have three answers for that. First, we intend to become a major party that elects its own candidates on its own line,” LaVenia said.
“Second, minor parties cross-endorsing lesser evils advance the lesser evil’s platform, not their own. Third, if minor parties are worried about how winner-take-all, single-member-district elections encourage voters to vote for lesser evils rather than their first choice, we want to work with them for a real solution to that problem: a system of proportional representation,” LaVenia said.
LaVenia explained that “under proportional representation, every party gets representation in legislative bodies in proportion to the vote they receive. Every vote counts toward election of the candidates of one’s preferred party. No votes are wasted on losers. This system is practiced by most democracies around the world and it results in higher voter turnouts and more women and more minorities, political as well as ethnic, being elected to legislatures.”
For single-member executive offices, LaVenia added, instant runoff voting where voters rank their choices in order of preference is a system that eliminates the incentives for lesser evil voting while insuring that the most preferred candidate is elected.
The Green Party’s rules do allow for fusion among independent progressive candidates and parties. The rules allow independent candidates who are not enrolled in any party to receive the Green Party nomination. The Green rules also permit fusion with other parties that share policy goals and political independence from the corporate parties and their fusion satellite parties. Such candidates, who would not be from any of the current parties with a ballot line in New York State through 2014, could receive the Green Party nomination and put their own line on the ballot by independent nominating petition.
The Green Party established themselves as a ballot line party in New York State when its gubernatorial ticket of Howie Hawkins for Governor and Gloria Mattera for Lt. Governor received nearly 60,000 votes in 2010. Under New York’s election law, parties need at least 50,000 votes for the gubernatorial ticket secure a ballot line for the next four years.
Since receiving the ballot line, Greens have run in three elections. Alex White received 9 percent of the vote in a three-way special election for Mayor of Rochester on March 29. Jason West, a Green Party member running on the village party Cooperative line, recaptured his position on May 3 as Mayor of New Paltz after a four years out of office. Ian Murphy, who received national attention for posing as Tea Party funder David Koch in a phone call to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, was the Green Party candidate in the special election of May 24 for the 26th congressional district.