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August 31st, 2006
The “party machine” is often portrayed as a force in competition with the people’s will. But, when functioning properly, political parties can allow widespread participation on a grassroots level. Members of the county committees are elected directly by their neighbors and usually represent just a few blocks.
The trouble is, nobody has been running for these seats. As Grassroots Initiative pointed out in their report(pdf format) last year, 50 percent of the 15,000 county committee seats in the two major parties in New York are vacant.
Furthermore, 98 percent of those occupied seats are filled by candidates who ran unopposed – they needed merely to fill out the paperwork to be elected.
To reinforce the importance of party committees, Grassroots notes the political prominence of the religious right, whom a Congressional Quarterly report found to control a vast number of Republican committee seats nationwide.
This year, Grassroots attempted to help any willing candidate in the city run for seats in the two major parties. Their Web site acts as a campaign clearing house, and they trained candidates in the elections process.
And now, with petitioning season officially over, they are assisting candidates with write-in campaigns.
For more info on committee seats, try contacting Grassroots Initiative or your party:
Parties With Secured Ballot Status:
NYS Working Families Party
Staten Island GOP
Staten Island Independenc
NYS Liberal Party
Socialist Workers Party
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