Howie Hawkins responded to fellow candidate for Governor of New York Cynthia Nixon’s plan for ending voter suppression with support for her proposals but serious concern for what was left out.
“Early voting, automatic and same-day voter registration are important steps toward real democracy, but the most pervasive form of voter suppression is our ‘winner-take-all’ electoral system that silences many of those who manage to vote, and discourages millions from voting at all. Why vote when most districts are non-competitive because they are dominated by one party in our single-member-district, winner-take-all system,” said Hawkins.
The Hawkins campaign and the Green Party support Ranked-Choice Instant-Runoff Voting for single-member executive offices and Proportional Representation in legislative bodies. These voting systems are common in most of the world’s democracies.
“With Instant-Runoff Voting, you rank candidates in order of preference. If your most-preferred candidate receives the fewest votes, your vote transfers to your second-ranked candidate, and so on until the winning candidate receives a majority of votes,” Hawkins explained. “That eliminates the so-called ‘spoiler’ dilemma the two corporate parties use to shame voters away from supporting third-party and independent candidates who better represent their values.”
In a proportional representation system with multi-seat districts, legislative seats would go to each party in proportion to the vote their candidates receive.
“In our current system, it’s common for up to 49.9% of voters to get no representation. That is not democratic. It doesn’t represent all of us. Green candidates in New York routinely reach vote thresholds that would put them in office if they were running in most other democracies around the world,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins had a critique for one of Nixon’s proposals, saying automatically restoring voting rights for parolees does not go far enough. “That incarcerated people are counted toward district representation without being allowed to vote is an unconscionable hypocrisy on the level of the ‘Three-Fifths Compromise,’” said Hawkins. “Maine and Vermont allow prisoners to vote. Civic engagement should be part of the process of rehabilitation and reintegration into society.”
Hawkins also supports voting rights in local elections for every resident, regardless of citizenship or documentation status. “Immigrants live in the same communities, pay the same taxes, send their children to the same public schools, and use the same local infrastructure as the rest of us do. They should have a say about these issues, too.”
“I appreciate that Cynthia Nixon wants to eliminate unjust barriers keeping people from exercising their right to vote. But we can go much further to expand voting access, rights, and fair representation. 13 major U.S. cities and the state of Maine now use ranked-choice instant-runoff voting. It’s time for New York’s voting system to catch up with the rest of the country and the world with preferential and proportional voting systems.”
The “Fair Elections” plank in Hawkins’ platform is available at: