The Upstate Jobs Party is hoping to succeed where others haven't in challenging New York election law and the consolidation of ballot lines.
A lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court last week aims to prevent the consolidation of ballot lines in the race for Onondaga County executive. The Upstate Jobs Party endorsed Ryan McMahon, who will see a full four-year term as Onondaga County's top official.
It's one of five party endorsements McMahon has in the county executive's race. He is also supported by the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Libertarian parties.
But under state election law, candidates may appear on no more than two political party lines. If the candidate will appear on at least two ballot lines and receives the support of an independent party, like Upstate Jobs, then it must be consolidated.
In McMahon's case, Upstate Jobs will appear with the Independence Party — the largest minor party in the state that has official ballot status. Upstate Jobs, which was created by Martin Babinec when he ran for Congress in 2016, lacks that status because it requires a gubernatorial candidate receiving at least 50,000 votes on that line.
Upstate Jobs didn't endorse in the 2018 race for governor.
The party's lawsuit, which lists the Independence Party, Independence Party Chair Frank MacKay and McMahon as plaintiffs, challenges the constitutionality of the state statute. Upstate Jobs argues the law is a violation of its First Amendment rights.
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"New York's constitution provides for fusion voting, whereby a single candidate can be listed on more than one ballot as a pathway for new political parties to be established," Babinec said in a statement. "However, over time elected officials have increased the advantages established parties hold over new entrants that now thwarts the political expression fusion voting was intended to create."
Babinec continued, "Without independent candidates and a fundamental freedom to seek office, the two-party system will continue to wreak havoc on our people. This approach to elections has hurt candidates on the UJP line for multiple elections and must end now."
The harm, according to the Upstate Jobs Party, occurred in the 2016 and 2017 elections. The party notes that when Babinec was a candidate for the 22nd Congressional District the Upstate Jobs Party line was consolidated with the Reform Party line in seven counties. The merging of the parties on the ballot, the party contends, had a negative impact on the election and disenfranchised Babinec's supporters.
Babinec received more than 12% of the vote in the 2016 election. The winner, Republican nominee Claudia Tenney, won 46% of the vote. Tenney received nearly 95,000 more votes than Babinec.
In the 2017 election, the Upstate Jobs Party endorsed Ben Walsh for Syracuse mayor. Walsh had the Independence and Reform lines, and Upstate Jobs was merged with the Reform line on city ballots. That change didn't affect Walsh's performance. He won the mayoral race.
The Upstate Jobs Party seeks to have a larger role in New York elections. Last year, the party endorsed Republican state Senate candidate Bob Antonacci in the 50th district race. Antonacci, R-Onondaga, won the race to represent portions of Cayuga and Onondaga counties in Albany.