Why Vote Working Families?

Guest Commentary

Volume CV, No. 9September, 2005

Larry Moskowitz

When you vote on Nov. 8, you should vote on row E, the Working Families Party line. Why? Voting for a candidate on the WFP row counts just as much as if you voted for these same candidates on the Democratic row, but it also sends a message about progressive political values. It shows your support for the issues that the WFP fights for: living wage jobs, affordable housing, universal health care, better public education, and other social and economic justice issues. Your vote counts more when you vote WFP.


The WFP’s biggest victory to date is a two-dollar increase in the state minimum wage. When the new wage is fully phased in on Jan. 1, 2007, over 1.2 million working New Yorkers will benefit. The increase will mean an additional $1 million in the pockets of all low-wage workers. With the party’s support for David Soares in the Albany County district attorney race, the WFP also helped win long-overdue reform of the Rockefeller drug laws in 2004.


Most voters are fed up with narrow choices offered by the major parties. But in most states, voters have two lousy options to choose from: the “lesser of two evils,” or the “wasted vote” on a third party.

New York is different. We’re one of the few states in the country where a minor party can have a major impact. The WFP ballot line means something very real for the politicians in New York State. It’s both the “carrot” and the “stick” that the party uses to pressure politicians. When politicians support and fight for the WFP’s issues, they get the reward of an extra ballot line and the additional votes it provides. When they don’t support the WFP’s issues, they face the “stick” option — the party can run its own candidate on the WFP line, or support the opposing party’s pick.


Fusion voting is when one party “cross endorses” another party’s candidate. Fusion allows candidates to run on more than one line in an election. The votes from the different parties are tallied separately, but then combined for that candidate’s total. The votes on all the lines count equally to help the candidate win.

Using fusion, minor parties like the Working Families Party can demonstrate in clear and unequivocal terms how much support they can deliver to a candidate by highlighting the number of votes a candidate receives on the party’s line. This gives the WFP greater influence with candidates and elected officials, especially when the party provides the margin of victory in close races. For example, if the WFP endorses a candidate who wins by 5 percent of the vote, while she receives 7 percent of the vote on the party’s line, then the party was clearly essential to her victory — without the votes on the party’s line, she wouldn’t have won. This helps the WFP hold her accountable on issues important to the party. Fusion also solves the “spoiler vote” problem of third parties.


Unlike other political parties, the WFP’s work doesn’t end the day after the elections. The WFP uses its electoral victories to push politicians to support progressive legislation, recruit new members into the party, and build up the party’s political power.

And unlike most other third parties, the WFP thinks that constantly “spoiling” elections — i.e. voting for third-party candidates with no chance of winning — is not a smart strategy. Too often, it pulls votes from a somewhat desirable candidate, causing the least desirable candidate to win. Using fusion, the WFP supports good candidates who can win, and uses the number of votes the party gets for them on its line to exercise real power over the decisions they make once in office.

The WFP supports candidates who are committed to equality and justice. Members of the WFP’s local chapters interview candidates and make recommendations to the party’s governing body. It’s an original, exciting, democratic process that allows ordinary people to decide what candidates their party should support.

Larry Moskowitz is labor coordinator of the Working Families Party. 802 members who want to get involved can call (212) 245-4802, ext. 176.