Public Citizen in Your State: Working Toward Fair Elections in New York

Public Citizen News / March-April 2019

By Rhoda Feng

This article appeared in the March/April 2019 edition of Public Citizen News. Download the full edition here.

One hundred individuals spent more on elections in New York state in 2018 than 137,000 small donors combined. There is now a movement pressing for a statewide fair elections system, under which candidates who pledge to limit large donor contributions receive matching small-dollar donations to empower the voices of everyday New Yorkers.

On Feb. 27, Public Citizen helped organize hundreds of people to go to Albany and participate in a day of action urging lawmakers to act immediately to make the Legislature work for all New Yorkers, not just big donors.

Public Citizen and activists met with state legislators, rallied and even wore “big money” costumes around the Capitol.

Just a few days prior, on Feb. 23, Public Citizen spearheaded a town hall for democracy in New York City to build support for state and federal democracy reforms, including the For the People Act (H.R. 1), a package of reforms designed to restore democracy nationwide. Elected officials spoke about opportunities to get big money out of politics, give everyday New Yorkers a bigger voice and lead the way on voting rights.

The push comes on the heels of the New York state legislature passing election reforms in January aimed at breaking down barriers to voting. These included early voting (previously unavailable in the state), constitutional amendments for same-day registration, pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds and no-excuse absentee ballots.