In a tense election year, plenty of candidates are vying for your vote. But a recent change to election laws is making the push even more important for third parties in New York.

What You Need To Know

  • Third parties in New York must gain at least 130,000 votes or 2 percent of the total vote in the upcoming election to maintain a ballot line in the state

  • This requirement will be upheld for each general election vote for governor or president every two years

  • The national Working Families Party was established in New York in 1998

  • The Conservative Party of New York State was founded in 1962, and became ballot-qualified in the state in September 2019

"We need hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who believe in our message, to demonstrate their embrace of our message to vote on the WFP line this November," said Sochie Nnaemeka, state director of the New York Working Families Party.

Third parties in New York must now garner at least 130,000 votes or 2 percent of the total vote every two years to maintain a ballot line in the state. That's up from 50,000 every four years.

Nnaemeka is making a plea.

"Too many Americans don’t see themselves in the two major parties," she said. "Third parties have historically always played a role in reshaping our two-party system."

The new rules came in the state budget this year. Had they been in effect in the 2018 gubernatorial election, the Working Families Party would have fallen short by 15,000 votes.

"What the state here is attempting to do, they're attempting to handcuff the voices of a lot of New Yorkers," said Gerard Kassar, chairman of the Conservative Party of New York State.

Kassar said while they anticipate surpassing the new threshold, this shift in procedure was a bad move.

"I think all the third parties have a legitimate gripe for being muzzled," he said. "Third parties have existed in New York since the 1940s, so I think it is ridiculous that this change was needed."

In the Hudson Valley, with candidates like Mondaire Jones and Karen Smythe, the Working Families Party says it enjoys voter support.

"The spirit of work, the spirit of industry, the role of communities and families are the values we hold tight to as a party, resonate strongly with voters," said Nnaemeka.

In a fight for its survival, the state director is reminding the public of the importance of all third party votes.

"Without the vibrancy and the urgency of the third party, New York State will not be building a place where all people can actually stay here with security, especially as we’re seeing potential austerity politics being offered to us from Albany," she said.

While they may be on different sides of the political spectrum, both Nnaemeka and Kassar can agree on that.

"You’re sending a stronger message by voting on a political party line that is specific around an ideological philosophy," Kassar said. "It’s voting for a good candidate, but it's also sending a message."

If a third party does not amass enough votes, it can still regain ballot lines through petitions that require 45,000 signatures.