Opinion: State lawmakers need to end fusion voting, says Colton man
Thursday, March 14, 2019 - 9:28 am

Kudos to the NYS Democratic Committee for calling for an end to fusion voting, the confusing system in which the same candidate appears on multiple lines.

In practice, third party lines are just another line for a candidate to run on, a way to have his or her name appear in many places on the ballot. It's a time-honored marketing technique, summed up in the adman's slogan "Redundancy pays in advertising."

Some of the third parties count on voter confusion to swell their ranks and get votes. Many members of the Independence Party, for example, register with that party thinking that they are registering as independent voters. If you are registered as IND rather than BLK (no affiliation) you are a member of the Independence Party, wittingly or not.

The Conservative Party boasts that it keeps the Republican party conservative by forcing it to nominate candidates with conservative values. But in practice, the Conservative Party endorses whomever the Republican Committee has decided should run, often a moderate or even a liberal Republican. Sometimes the Conservative Party will even give its line to a candidate running on a Democrat or socialist line.

The third party in New York whose members are most ideologically committed is the Working Families Party. Bernie Sanders has said, "The WFP is the closest thing there is to a political party that believes in my vision of democratic socialism." Self-declared democratic socialist Cynthia Nixon was the party's candidate for governor in 2018. But when she lost the Democratic primary, even the committed socialists of the WFP voted to endorse their nemesis Andrew Cuomo.

Like all third parties, the WFP likes to back a winner. Having an establishment candidate on their line enables them to get the 50,000 votes they need to keep their line on the ballot. Ideologically speaking, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should have gotten the WFP's endorsement in her 2018 congressional race. Received political wisdom, however, was that the longtime Democratic incumbent Joseph Crowley would win, so he got the line. He received 6.6% of the vote in the general election and has since joined the international lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs.

Hopefully, state lawmakers will act on the Democratic Committee's resolution and put an end to the noxious practice of fusion voting.

Kevin Beary