Note: SAM-NY Chair Michael Volpe wrote the following Op-Ed after some NY County Boards of Election began to send out letters to registered SAM voters advising them that “they are no longer enrolled in a political party with ballot status.”
As we enter a New Year, the hope for a brighter future for ourselves, our loved ones and all New Yorkers are with us, as we say goodbye to a difficult 2020. New Yorkers will face many challenges in 2021 and in the years to come and it will take thoughtful, caring and honest elected leaders to address:
Inequities in education, the lack of affordable housing, real access to economic opportunity, balancing criminal justice reform with the safety of all New Yorkers, and making sure that we don’t overtax our residents to the point of having retired New Yorkers and younger residents move to other states.
More Americans identify themselves as independents (41%) than either of our two major parties. These voters realize that our problems are not being solved and more important, they are losing trust in our government, and there is a distaste and distain for our leaders today in Congress and our state legislature.
Our State and our country need a different way, and since 2018, we have offered New Yorker’s a new party to consider: The SAM Party. Three years ago, the Serve America Movement Party, or SAM Party, won a ballot line fair and square when its gubernatorial contender earned sufficient votes in the 2018 Governor’s election by focusing on local concerns.
But our elected politicians, and pooh-bahs in Albany, (led by Andrew Cuomo) decided that they didn’t like small parties (Gov. Cuomo has long had it in for the Working Families Party) and wrote a law (attaching it to the budget to prevent real law making) dictating that all parties must also clear a presidential minimum tally from New York voters. This was an impossible obstacle for most small parties to overcome and the Democratic Party leaders knew it, but went along and voted for it anyway., because it keeps them in office.
With this new ‘Ballot Access Law’, the state is saying to the little parties: You must pick one of the big boys (Biden or Trump) or you’re gone. This is exactly what New Yorkers do not need — less choice when they cast their vote. We need more voices in our political discourse, not just the same, tired, failed two options.
Because of this law, and because SAM declined to run a candidate for President in 2020, or endorse the democrat or republican nominee, we have lost our party status SAM has challenged the law as a direct violation of the parties’ First Amendment rights of freedom of association. The case is still in the federal court system and we are hoping to win back our party status.
So, as the New Year has dawned, we as SAM ask: Do we need more non-sensical solutions to problems? Do we really want one party control over state and local governments? Do we need more financial flight from New York State because politicians do not want to “bite the bullet” and make hard decisions? At SAM we say No.
SAM wants you to tell your local and state leaders to support choices and push back on one-party control, support new voices which champion real change and tell your leaders to support policies that preserve our futures!
Many of your local elected officials ran on the SAM Party line because of what we stand for. To learn more about what this new law means for diversity of opinion, visit joinsamny.org.
Michael Volpe, SAM-NY Chair