The Board has determined to issue an opinion clarifying whether a candidate is eligible to receive public matching funds under the New York City Campaign Finance Act (New York City Administrative Code §3-701, et seq.) in a general election in which the official voting machine ballot does not contain the name of an opposing candidate.
Administrative Code §3-703(5) states that "candidates who are unopposed in an election shall not be eligible to receive public funds for such election." Both the definition of the term "election", Administrative Code §3-702(10), and the Report of the City Council Committee on Governmental Operations on Int. No. 906-A, which became Local Law No. 8 of 1988, confirm the legislative intent that candidates who are "unopposed" in a general election may not qualify for public funding in that election.1
Under the New York State Election Law, in a general election, voters always have the option of writing in a person whose name does not appear on the ballot. The existence of the voter's option to write in an individual for public office is not explicitly stated in the Election Law, but derives from Election Law provisions governing the form of ballots and write-in voting procedures.
The term "unopposed" is not defined in the Election Law. The terms "uncontested office" and "uncontested position" are used in the Election Law only in connection with a primary election. New York Election Law §1-104(10). These terms are not used to refer to a general election.
Given the legislative intent of the City Council, the Board will presume that a general election candidate is "opposed" only in those circumstances in which the name of an opposing candidate will appear on the official ballot. A candidate without general election opposition is not eligible for public funding in that election.
NEW YORK CITY CAMPAIGN FINANCE BOARD
Unopposed in Primary or General Election. An unopposed candidate would receive no public funding even if there's a primary race for that office in another political party.
Proceedings of the Council of the City of New York, vol. I, at 46 (January 21, 1988). (Emphasis added.)