Keep Elections Fair

David Butler

After 16 months, 1,200,000 Presidential television advertisements shown across the country (mostly in swing states) and a total expenditure of $6,000,000,000, the 2012 election cycle is finally over. With eight political parties represented on voting ballots in New York (Democratic, Republican, Conservative, Green, Libertarian, Working Families, Constitution and Independent), there is no denying that we live in a state whose residents possess a plethora of different political views and opinions. Despite these differences, I believe that we can all agree that something needs to be done about the egregious amount of big, private money spent on political campaigns at all levels of government in this country. 

Fortunately, Governor Cuomo agrees. Just last month he met with several groups in his office to discuss campaign finance reform. The hope is to come up with a campaign finance reform plan that works in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. This means that corporations and labor unions may spend their own money to support or oppose political candidates through independent communications like television advertisements. 

One plan that has been gaining momentum in recent months is the Fair Elections for New York campaign. As so eloquently stated on the Fair Elections website (, “instead of candidates raising large contributions from wealthy donors, a voluntary system of public financing of elections would allow candidates to run for office by collecting many small donations and receiving public funds to run their campaign.” It puts elections back in the hands of voters, and is proven to increase small donor participation in campaigns. In effect, the passage of Fair Elections for New York would mandate that state and local politicians answer to us, their constituents, and not their special interest sponsors. 

Campaign finance reform is likely to be one of the first agendas addressed when the state legislature comes back in session this January. Given New York’s importance to the country, both culturally and economically, a victory here is essential and will have a huge impact on campaign finance reform throughout our Union. And so, as a fellow resident of New York State and citizen of the United States, I ask all of you to forgo doing what is easy for what is right. Do not recede into political docility and complacency simply because election season is over. Stay informed, remain engaged and continue to have your voice heard by contacting your State Legislatures and letting them know that you support Fair Elections for New York. 

Contact David Butler at [email protected]