Volpe’s SAM party sues Cuomo over election changes requiring parties run presidential candidates to keep ballot line

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Editor’s note: This press release was provided by The SAM Party of New York.

SAM-NY Sues Cuomo, Legislators and NYS Board of Election Over Ballot Access Law New Political Party Claims Requirements Are Unconstitutional

The SAM Party of New York (“SAM”) sued Governor Cuomo, leaders of the New York Legislature, and the leaders of the New York State Board of Elections today to challenge the Governor and the major political parties’ efforts to eliminate political competition in New York State. The case was filed in the federal court in the Southern District of New York.

A new state election law would require all of New York State’s political parties to run a Presidential candidate in this year’s election (2020) and receive 2% of the total vote or 130,000 votes, whichever is greater, in order to maintain their state-wide ballot line. SAM-NY’s lawsuit alleges that the new law, in effect after the issuance of a report by the Campaign Finance Reform Commission (“the Commission”), is a violation of the party’s and its members’ Constitutional rights.

“Requiring the SAM Party of New York to nominate a candidate for President or lose ‘party’ status imposes a severe burden” on SAM and its members, the complaint alleges. “In imposing that requirement, the Commission’s recommendations, now law, violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments.” SAM’s lawsuit seeks to bar enforcement of that requirement against SAM and to ensure that SAM is not removed from the ballot or stripped of its “party” status if it does not run a 2020 presidential candidate.

Prior to the new law, to qualify for automatic ballot access in New York State, a party must have received at least 50,000 votes in the prior gubernatorial election. In the 2018 Gubernatorial election, SAM earned a ballot line for four years by getting more than 50,000 votes for Governor.

SAM quickly capitalized on that ballot line, running 100+ candidates in 2019, with 51 of those candidates winning their elections to offices in 21 counties across New York State. In 14 of those races, SAM represented the alternative party of choice, and in seven races it received more votes than at least one of the two major parties. SAM’s early success in earning ballot access and winning elections demonstrates its appeal to New York voters as an alternative choice to the Democratic and Republican parties.

The new presidential-vote requirement, which was imposed without review or a vote in the Legislature, denies SAM its previously earned ability to build a new political party from the ground up focused solely on New York, and threatens to halt the success it has quickly achieved.

“Everything about this effort to suppress political competition, including how it was enacted, represents how the current two-party system wields its power to rig the system in its favor,” says Michael Volpe, the SAM Party of New York’s Chairman, and SAM’s candidate for Lieutenant Governor in 2018. “With the imposition of this requirement, New Yorkers are denied the ability to choose candidates who are willing to be held accountable for their actions, candidates who oppose party power politics and demand transparency in all decisions, and candidates who at all times require that decisions be made based on the needs of citizens and not the needs of party bosses.”

“We’ll fight this effort by Governor Cuomo and his handpicked Commission with everything we have. It threatens the very existence of challenges to the status quo and efforts to better represent the interests of all New Yorkers. It’s undemocratic, unconstitutional, unfair and has been cooked up solely to serve the interests of those who control our broken political system,” said Volpe.

SAM-NY is the newest political party in New York State, offering New Yorkers a different approach to governing focused on transparency and accountability, rather than on ideology. SAM, short for the Serve America Movement, empowers its candidates and elected officials to serve the needs of their constituents and not be controlled by inflexible left/right political positions that are increasingly partisan.

Visit joinsamny.org for more information.