Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) on Tuesday slammed a proposal reportedly being pushed by the chairman of the New York State Democratic Party that would place more hurdles in front of third parties seeking to appear on the ballot, calling the plan “deeply undemocratic.”
The proposal, which targets the New York Working Families Party, would dramatically hike the voter threshold for third parties to appear on the gubernatorial ballot from 50,000 votes to 250,000 votes, alleviating the headache the party has caused for Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. The new threshold amounts to just under two percent of New York’s over 12 million registered voters.
State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs suggested the voter hike in a private email sent earlier this month to a number of state commissioners engaged in a review of New York election law, the New York Times reported.
“This proposal comes from, of all places, a commission meant to improve our democracy. But attacking the @NYWFP is deeply undemocratic—and it will only benefit Republicans,” the Massachusetts senator said in a tweet.
“No Democrat should allow this to pass,” Warren added.
The Working Families Party endorsed Warren for president last month, a switch from the party’s endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders during his first presidential bid in 2016. Critics raised eyebrows over a reported $45,000 in donations last year to the party from the think tank Demos, which is chaired by Warren’s daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi.
Meanwhile, some Sanders supporters complained about the endorsement and suggested the party has “something to hide.”
Jacobs claims New York’s third party voter threshold effort is meant to address voter confusion as well as crack down on “sham” parties that trade their appearance on the ballot for political favors.
“A lot of people have been getting away with an awful lot for a long time,” Jacobs said. “In my mind, it will be better overall if elections are run with only really credible parties.”
Cuomo, who has admitted he knew Jacobs’ stance on the Working Families Party when he appointed him to the commission, has been accused of being behind the effort to undermine third parties.
“It’s not our proposal, but ultimately legislators would have the option to weigh in on what the commission ultimately decides,” said Rich Azzopardi, a senior Cuomo adviser.
The Working Families Party is the second largest third party in New York behind the Conservative Party, which garnered more than 250,000 votes during the last election for governor.