There are members of the current state legislature who would like to end the practice of Fusion Voting in New York State, and others who feel it is important to keep this practice, so perhaps it is time for us to think about where we stand on this issue.
What is Fusion Voting?
When a candidate appears on more than one ballot line, it’s known as fusion voting or cross-endorsement. The only states that currently allow fusion voting are Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, New York, Oregon, South Carolina and Vermont. For a third party to appear on the ballot in NYS, it has to get 15,000 signatures of registered voters. In NY and the abovementioned other states, the party can opt to select candidates who are already nominees of other parties. A party must receive 50,000 votes for Governor to be guaranteed a ballot line for the following four years. Minor parties retain their ballot lines by endorsing either the Democratic nominee for Governor – as the Working Families Party usually does – or the Republican nominee – as the Conservative Party does. Some other parties generally have their own candidates for Governor, but still reach the 50,000-vote requirement. When you receive your 2019 copy of They Represent You, which will be sent to all members in April, you will note that there are currently eight official parties in NYS, including the Republican and Democratic parties. The other six are: Conservative, Green, Independence, Libertarian, SAM and Working Families.
Advantages of Fusion Voting
Fusion voting gives minor parties influence in elections. Voters support minor parties by voting for their candidates on minor party lines, thus not endorsing major parties. It enables citizens or groups to form parties based on specific issues, and it enables voters to decide on what lines they vote for their chosen candidates. By voting on a minority party line, voters can send a message regarding policies that they support, yet still vote for a candidate that they believe has a good chance of winning the election, whether those policies are more progressive or more conservative. Third parties often have the power to hold candidates accountable to their party lines.
Disadvantages of Fusion
Voting Opponents of fusion voting say the minor parties have too much power; that candidates are pulled to more extreme positions in order to get onto minority party lines to obtain additional votes. This, they feel makes it harder for more moderate candidates to remain in office. Fusion voting also causes a confusing ballot, and has sometimes allowed minor parties to trade endorsements for jobs or other favors.
Background of Fusion
Voting In the 19th century, fusion voting was common throughout the United States. It contributed to the rise of the Populist Party, whose members gave their support to candidates from both major parties, bolstering Populist influence. In the 1892 election, Populists supported the Democratic Party. Republican lawmakers then scaled back fusion voting provisions in the states. The practice fell out of favor in the 20th century, bringing its use down to the current eight states.
What is Your Position?
If you feel strongly one way or the other please let me, Paula Blum, so I can print your response in a future issue of the East Nassau VOTER. Comments from legislators as well as members are welcome.
(Sources, City & State and MSNBC.com)