Students support Fair Elections for New York bill

Geneseo’s chapter of Democracy Matters and members of Move On, a politically-progressive group, joined together for a conference to discuss Fair Elections for New York on Feb. 21.

Fair Elections for New York is a bill that progressive groups have been trying to push through the state government for several years. In the past, the bill has aimed to prevent candidates from collecting large monetary contributions from a few wealthy owners.

“The point of fair elections is to create a public financing system,” senior Nick Sloper, president of Geneseo’s Democracy Now, said. “This bill will create a public fund that would cost two dollars for every New Yorker, so that people don’t have to run for office off of donations from wealthy individuals.”

According to the official press release of Democracy Matters, organizations supporting the Fair Elections bill released new research showing that multinational corporations made more than $670,000 in campaign contributions to state legislative candidates in the last election cycle.  

The press release also said that multinational corporations like PepsiCo Inc., Bank of America Corporation and JPMorgan Chase & Co. took advantage of offshore tax havens to hide income costing New York at least $2.4 billion in tax revenue, that could otherwise be used to fund education, health care and other services. According to Sloper, the release of this information led New York residents to call on lawmakers for a publicly financed election system.

“With the adoption of Fair Elections in New York, we could work on these tax loopholes that are being exploited,” Sloper said. “The bill would implement a six to one matching system, so that a normal person like you or I could donate five dollars, and the state would then donate $30. This makes each individual voice a little louder.”

Sloper said he hopes the bill will pass in June of this year, but in previous years the bill always needed one or two more votes to pass. 

“This year we’re lobbying all of our senators, especially [Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan],” Sloper said. “He’s also on the Election Commission for the state Senate, so we’re trying to get him on board because his vote could be the deciding vote.”

Democracy Matters is currently working on a petition to obtain Gallivan’s support for the Fair Elections for New York bill.

At the press conference, Democracy Matters Public Relations Officer senior Kevin Castañeda said that the bill “will allow regular people to have their own individual interests heard.”