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Senate, Assembly Should Reject This Farce Of Election Law Policy

The clock is ticking on recommendations to reform New York’s election law — and as of Monday, the public still hasn’t gotten a chance to take a look at them.

Reports from the New York Daily News and other media outlets provide an outline of the New York State Public Campaign Finance Commission’s recommendations. The Daily News reported the commission has created a committee under the state Board of Elections to oversee a public election financing program. Contributions would be capped for statewide races at $18,000, a decrease from $70,000 allowed under current law. Donations for Assembly race will be capped at $5,000 and Senate races at $10,000. Races for state Assembly and Senate will have a limit of $250 per donor, with any donations in excess of $250 being returned to donors. Donations would be matched at varying levels for statewide and legislative races. The panel also recommends increasing the number of votes a minor party must receive to gain ballot access to 130,000 votes every two years to remain on the ballot.

Whether you’re in favor of public campaign financing or not, whether you favor more minor parties on the ballot or not, the process used to create these recommendations stinks. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leadership abdicated their lawmaking duties to a political commission. A state that is staring down the barrel of a $6 million budget shortfall allowed an unelected commission to spend your money. And, for parties like the Libertarian Party, which gained ballot access thanks to the strong run of Larry Sharpe in the last gubernatorial election and have parlayed that into activism at the local level, an unelected group of political appointees just poured cold water on people who are trying to get involved in local and state politics.

Shame on Democratic Party leadership in the Senate and Assembly if they don’t immediately call a special session of the state Legislature for the sole purpose of rejecting this farce of election law policy.

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