Green Party Sues to Protect Voters' Right to Join

December 10, 2002

For Immediate Release

December 10, 2002

Contact Information:

Amanda Cooper, 212 998-6736

Mark Dunlea, Green Party, 518 286-3411

Green Party Sues to Protect Voters’ Right to Join

Suit Also Seeks to Maintain Current Members

The Green Party is filing a lawsuit in federal district court today in Brooklyn to maintain the right of voters to enroll in the Green Party in New York State. The Greens are being represented in the lawsuit by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

The Greens have filed this suit to protect the right of voters to register with the Party on voter registration forms, and to prevent the state and county Boards of Elections from stripping more than 30,000 New York State citizens of their identity as Green Party members on registered voter lists. The enrollments of these voters will be switched to blank if the state Board of Elections decertifies the party at its meeting on Friday, December 13th, as is expected. State law currently requires the Board to decertify the Greens as a political party if its Gubernatorial candidate, Stanley Aronowitz, fails to receive 50,000 votes. The Greens are seeking a temporary restraining order to block the purging of voter lists.

“The State of New York wants to deny voters the right to affiliate with the Green Party, despite the fact that we are the third largest political party in the country. Voters have a constitutional right under the First Amendment to join together as a political party, and we are fighting for the rights of our members,” stated Mark Dunlea, an attorney and Chair of the State Green Party.

New York is one of only three states that impose strict limitations on the rights of voters to enroll in the party of their choice when they register or vote, explains Jeremy Creelan of the Brennan Center. If the Green Party loses its official status as a party, which we currently expect on Friday, its members will be stripped of their party affiliation, new registrants will be unable to enroll in the party, and the party itself will be unable to organize its supporters to maintain their voice in the marketplace of ideas. That burden is unnecessary, and violates the rights of New Yorkers who seek to come together as a party to be heard.”

If the State will no longer register voters as members of the Green Party, the Party will lose a crucial tool for effective outreach and organizing, and voters will lose their opportunity to express their political views through identification with a particular party and its platform.

“Voters who believe in peace, campaign finance reform, universal health care, an end to the war on drugs, and progressive tax and budget policies need to be allowed to provide an alternative to the failed policies of the Democrats and Republicans,” said Kimberly Wilder, a member of the Executive Committee of the Green Party.

Mary Jo Long, the Greens’ Attorney General candidate, had 48,801 votes in the preliminary unofficial count. Aronowitz has at least 42,000 votes and Howie Hawkins, the Comptroller candidate, had 46,000 votes in the preliminary count. Nationally, the Green Party had its best showing ever in the recent elections, electing 70 officials to public offices around the country. The number of elected Greens now stands at 172.

The Green’s Presidential candidate Ralph Nader received more than 244,0300 votes in New York in 2000. In 2001, the Federal Election Commission formally recognized the Green Party of the U.S. as being a national committee of a political party.

Despite numerous indicators that the Green Party is a growing and vital part of the political dialogue in this state, the Board of Elections could still try and remove us from the political process, explains Mr. Dunlea. We cant let that happen, because we are the only voice for our members and the only party for our issues.

Judge John Gleeson will hear argument on the temporary restraining order on Thursday, December 12 at 11:30 a.m.

For questions or comment, please contact Amanda Cooper at (212) 998-6736 or Mark Dunlea at (518) 286-3411. The complaint is available for download. More information and briefs can be found at www.brennancenter.org.