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1997-11: Public Funds Eligibility for an Unopposed Candidate in the Primary Election

Thursday, October 09, 1997

Re: Administrative Code § 3-702(10); 3-703(5); Op. No. 1997-11

The New York City Campaign Finance Board has determined to issue an advisory opinion to clarify whether a candidate participating in the New York City Campaign Finance Program who has been designated for a party nomination in a primary election may receive public funds when no opposing candidate appears on the ballot but an "opportunity to ballot" has been filed.

New York City Administrative Code § 3-703(5) states that "candidates who are unopposed in a covered election shall not be eligible to receive public funds for such election." See also Administrative Code § 3-702(10) (defining "covered election"); Advisory Opinion No. 1989-50 (October 17, 1989) (concluding that a candidate unopposed in a general election is ineligible for public funding in that election).

New York State Election Law provides for a procedure in which an "opportunity to ballot" is filed. Enrolled members of a party entitled to vote in the nomination of a candidate for public office or the election of a candidate for party position in a primary election may file a petition requesting an opportunity to write in the name of a candidate, who need not be specified, for an office or position. New York State Election Law § 6-164. Furthermore, "upon the receipt of such a petition, such office or position shall be deemed contested..." Id.

Therefore, a candidate participating in the Campaign Finance Program, who appears as the only candidate on the ballot in a primary election when an opportunity to ballot has been filed, may receive public matching funds for the primary election should the candidate otherwise meet all Program requirements1.

NEW YORK CITY CAMPAIGN FINANCE BOARD

1 This opinion does not address, and its conclusions would not be applicable in, circumstances where it is shown that an opportunity to ballot was filed for the purpose of allowing the candidate on the ballot to qualify for the receipt of public matching funds.