A bunch of unions are trying to get a ballot initiative on the 2006 Massachsetts ballot that will implement fusion (aka cross-endorsement voting) in Massachusetts. The Working Families Party has used it in New York and is trying to export it to Massachusetts and other New England states.
The fusion ballot initiative is poorly thought out. A couple of problems:
- It is entirely possible for a candidate to win all ballot-status party primaries, and be placed on the ballot under a party designation.
If you think this is far fetched, just look at the 2004 Nantucket County Sheriff race where Richard M. Bretschneider ran as a write-in candidate in all four party primaries. While the Green-Rainbow and Libertarian Party primaries were uncontested, the Democratic and Republican primaries were very contested with five and four candidates respectively. Mr. Bretschneider won all four party primaries.
If Fusion had been in place, and there were no independents, then he could have run unopposed. If you don’t think this is a problem, then consider that in this situation a minority of voters would have chosen the only candidate to appear on the ballot in the general election. While other candidates could run as write-ins, write-in campaigns are very difficult, especially in the general election.
- Since there is no party oversight of who is on its primary ballot (except for the constitutional offices were it is pretty difficult just to get on the ballot), it is entirely possible for a monied, conservative Democrat to get on the Green-Rainbow party primary and if we don’t run a candidate, be our nominee
whether we like it or not. After all there isn’t a None of the Above option on the ballot. Party identify and self-determination go out the window.
- Fusion will not perform as expected for a "Working Families" type party. In a highly contested Democratic primary, mutiple Democratic candidates may decide to contest the "Working Families" primary. What happens if the two primaries pick different Democratic candidates? Does the "Working Families" candidate not run if there is a Republican in the general election. What if the conservative
Dem. wins the "Working Families" primary, the "progressive" Dem. wins the Democratic primary and the conservative Dem. decides to contest the general election?
Prior to the Working Families Party, fusion resulted in insider deals with "minor parties" that could bring votes to one of the major parties. Thanks, but we don’t need more corrupt politics.
The Dems control the Massachusetts legislature with over 80+% of the seats and the best we get on the Health Care front is a mandatory "low cost" health care. I doubt that fusion will change much in politics when most races are uncontested or practically uncontested.
NY is different from MA. The election laws aren’t the same and the politics aren’t the same.
True electoral reform would be Instant Runoff Voting and Proportional Representation, not some 19th century electoral system that is not used anywhere else in the world and makes minor parties dependent on the "major parties".
One thought on “The deadend of fusion”
First, you obviously haven’t read the Massachusetts initiative: Under the initiative, those who seek to run in a fusion-based party’s primary have to be approved by the democratically chosen state committee of the party.
Second, your comments reflect the myopia of Green Party activists with regard to fusion. If the Greens in New York had strategically opted to use fusion once in awhile, perhaps they wouldn’t have lost their ballot status while the Working Families Party has become the fastest growing and most effective minor party in the state.
For a more balanced view of fusion voting, visit MyDD (http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/8/27/14386/2671).