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Letter: Response to Rep. Jack Martins’ Letter About Fair Elections

New York has a historic opportunity to reform election laws. The 2013 Fair Elections Act, which provides for greater transparency and strictly enforced campaign finance laws, recently passed the State Assembly by a vote of 88-50. In contrast to the wild calculations that Sen. Martins provided, a public campaign finance system could be had for the cost of only $2 per person per year, according to the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute; a candidate’s participation would be optional. I daresay that most New Yorkers would gladly pay a mere $2 (the cost of a cup of coffee) for fairer, more transparent elections.

According to a recent Mercury Public Strategy poll, more than three-quarters of likely voters agree that reforming New York’s campaign finance laws is key to cleaning up Albany, rooting out corruption and improving the work of state government. Public financing would increase the number and diversity of candidates for office, require more disclosure, and give low- and middle-income candidates the opportunity to run credible campaigns against well-heeled candidates.

The proposal also contains limitations on election expenditures and campaign contributions, which are currently too high. Big-money donors have far too much influence in politics and elections. Elected representatives are supposed to be responsive to their constituents’ needs, not just those of their lobbyists and big donors.

The State Senate must act on this bill this month. Senate Majority co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) opposes the bill, making it unlikely to come to the Senate floor for a vote. The Senators should at least vote on this bill, so the voters know where they stand. However, we DO know where Sen. Martins stands; he opposes Fair Elections for NY.

It’s time to end the power of big donors and lobbyists in politics. Give the people back their power by having publicly-funded elections.  Isn’t that what democracy is supposed to be? Isn’t it worth a mere $2.00 to have YOUR voice heard in Albany again?

Lisa Oldendorp