Unlike in most states, New York electoral law permits electoral fusion. As a result, New York ballots tend to list a large number of political parties. The endorsement of major party candidates by smaller parties can be important since smaller parties often use this ballot feature to offer a candidate an additional line on the ballot.
Parties that received at least 50,000 votes in the last New York gubernatorial election qualify for automatic statewide ballot status. This also determines the order on the ballot. There are a number of minor parties in New York State which do not qualify for ballot status.
After the 2010 elections, these parties with ballot access were joined by a sixth party, the Green Party.
New York law states that only individuals enrolled in a particular party can vote in that party's primaries. The enrollment of a voter can be changed from one party to another. However, enrollment changes do not take effect until after the subsequent general election.