Pass fair Elections early in 2019
Rob Calarco

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Pass fair Elections early in 2019

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Grassroots groups and Suffolk County legislators gathered last week at the Suffolk County Legislature calling on state elected officials to follow Suffolk County’s lead and pass fair elections legislation that includes a small donor program, the closing of the LLC loophole, and comprehensive voting rights reforms in New York State. As the legislative session in Albany is about to start, all three top-elected leaders — Gov. Andrew Cuomo, incoming Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly speaker Carl Heastie — have authored fair elections proposals to reduce the influence of big money in politics and give everyday New Yorkers a bigger voice in Albany. 

The recommended reforms are similar to proposals that Cuomo, Stewart-Cousins and Heastie have supported over the years — consistently blocked by Republicans in the Senate — and reflect the recommendations of the 2013 Moreland Commission on Public Corruption.

“I am very proud to be the sponsor of Suffolk County’s campaign finance reform legislation,” stated deputy presiding officer Rob Calarco. “Public financing of campaigns has proven to increase voter participation, makes elections more competitive, expands access for more candidates, and reduces the influence of big money donors. Our law puts the focus of campaigns back on the voters, the people that elected officials are here to serve. I call upon my colleagues in New York State to pass campaign finance reform in the New Year.”

The diverse and growing Fair Elections for New York campaign includes over 140 community, labor, tenant, immigrant, racial justice, environment, faith, good government, and grassroots resistance organizations.

The proposed fair elections reform package includes:

• Small donor public financing. A small donor matching system for candidates in state elections, including district attorneys, like the successful program in New York City. Includes a $6-to-$1 public matching on small dollar donations, enforcement, and robust candidate support services to help anyone running for office comply with the law. 

• Limiting the influence of big money. Close the “LLC loophole,” which allows anyone to funnel unlimited money into our elections and conceal the donor’s identity. Also, reduce New York’s unusually high contribution limits to restrict how much money wealthy donors can give to candidates and committees, among other improvements.

• Making it easier, not harder, to vote. Including but not limited to automatic voter registration, early voting, same-day registration, online voter registration, no excuse absentee voting, new party enrollment deadlines, preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds, full voting access for people with disabilities, and codify into law New York’s new policy to extend voting rights to all New Yorkers with past criminal convictions.