Fusion voting is good for Oregon democracy

Chip Shields

One of the most interesting election reform bills this session is HB 3040, which would restore the once legal, now forgotten electoral system called “fusion voting”. The fusion voting bill has broad bipartisan sponsorship, with fifteen co-sponsors from left, right and middle. I am pleased to be one of those sponsors.

Fusion voting cuts through and clarifies where a candidate stands on key issues. It encourages the formation of genuine coalitions on important issues, and it provides voters with an exciting tool to help legislators know which issues they care most about without diminishing the value of their vote by voting for a third party candidate who is unlikely to win.

Fusion voting is a simple reform that permits more than one party to nominate the same candidate. It is sometimes called “cross-endorsement”, as one party (almost always a minor party) crosses over to endorse a major party candidate. Voters are in effect choosing a candidate AND a party as a way of signaling their support for both the best person and the most important issues. It’s a way for a voter to say not just who should serve, but what they should focus on once in office.

Here’s how it works. When I run for re-election, I could seek the nomination of the Democratic Party and the Working Families Party. This co-nomination would inform voters that I am a Democrat who is particularly interested in standing up for working people and their rights, including the right to collective self-defense through collective bargaining...increasing the minimum wage...providing access to universal health care, etc.

Likewise, my colleague Rep. Brian Boquist (R-Dallas) might choose to seek the nomination of the Republic Party and, say, the Oregon Taxpayers Party if the no-new-taxes crowd decided to create a party.

The great advantage to fusion is that it encourages independent voters to participate without diminishing the value of their votes. Votes for a single candidate from the different parties are tallied separately, and then combined for that candidate's total. Fusion is America's version of proportional representation, encouraging the formation of coalitions before rather than after the election.

In the late 1800's, fusion voting was legal throughout the country. In the Northwest, fusion was associated with the Democratic-Populist/worker-farmer alliances of that era. In the South, it was Republican-Populist fusion tickets against the racist Jim Crow forces. Many state legislatures, including Oregon's, eliminated fusion voting more than a hundred years ago precisely because it encouraged electoral coalition-building among the less powerful.

Under our present system, the only way for independent voters, political minorities and minor parties to get noticed is by “spoiling” – withholding enough votes from the candidate their constituency would otherwise support, delivering victory for that candidate’s opponent. But many voters who agree with the platform of a minor party do not want to diminish their voting power on a candidate who has little chance of winning. In New York and Connecticut, two states where fusion voting is legal and used frequently, experience and research demonstrate that fusion helps engage infrequent voters, younger voters and other groups most alienated from the political process. Fusion also increases candidate accountability and therefore encourages voter participation.

Fusion voting is presently legal in seven states. There is a movement afoot in a number of other states, including Oregon, to bring fusion voting back. All it would take here is a simple statutory change allowing a party to nominate any qualified candidate regardless of their party registration status. Of course, the candidate has to accept the nomination. Minor parties would still be free to run their own candidates or to stay out of a particular election altogether.

HB 3040 has been voted out of the House Elections, Rules and Ethics Committee with a "do-pass" recommendation. Last Wednesday, June 13, it had a hearing in the Joint Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Brian Boquist and I both testified in support. It is a simple, effective and low cost electoral reform that gives us a rare chance to increase voter participation and voter choice and expand our democracy. Please ask your State Representatives and Senators to join me in supporting fusion voting, HB 3040.

Comments

  • Mike Austin (unverified)
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    Will someone explain how this is better than some form of instant run-off voting and proportional representation, other than that it is something the two major parties will support because it doesn't endanger their stranglehold on power?

    IMO, our political system desperately needs real, viable competition. The two major parties are both "corrupt" to varying degrees and they will never change themselves. Fusion voting (by design?) simply is not radical enough to bring the necessary competitiveness to our political system. Or is it?

  • littlevoice (unverified)
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    This kicks the pants off instant run-off voting, which completely annihilates the one person - one vote theory behind representative democracy. Here, each person gets one vote, and its up to the candidate to demonstrate cross-over appeal by seeking multiple nominations, and it does not hinder any party from nominating whomever it wishes. I like it, and would like to hear more about it.

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    Right on, Chip! The best argument raised against it so far is cost and inability to reprogram vote counters for fusion. I've gotten some info recently showing that the entire state could change for pennies on the estimate the clerks have offered in testimony. I'll put it up tomorrow, probably. But kudos to Shields, Boquist and the other 13 consponsors for not forgetting this important bill.

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    Will someone explain how this is better than some form of instant run-off voting and proportional representation

    Well, for starters, it's not an either/or proposition. You can have IRV and fusion, no problem.

    Secondly, fusion is already in Oregon's constitution. IRV isn't - and there seems to be some disagreement about whether IRV would require a constitutional amendment.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Common sense questions: 1) Chip, you had no opponent, and Boquist was in a 3 candidate race. Why is this of value to those in districts where there is a 2 candidate race? 2) Some people register NAV for a reason--vote for the individual and not for the party. Why should they be impressed with this idea, or IRV or anything else? What if they don't have a 2nd choice (Brading vs. Minnis, Grisham vs. Cameron, etc)? That is never discussed as if we should all expect to be in multi-candidate elections with an active 3rd party. 3) How many of the co-sponsors have discussed this with citizen town halls in their districts? What was the feedback?

    Sounds like someone's bright idea, but also might strike some as an answer in search of a question. Why is this better than open primaries and non-partisan legislature in the eyes of the vast majority of voters who are not political junkies?

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    "Some people register NAV for a reason--vote for the individual and not for the party. Why should they be impressed with this idea,"

    Because it lets them do exactly that, where currently they cannot.

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    What if they don't have a 2nd choice (Brading vs. Minnis, Grisham vs. Cameron, etc)?

    LT, sounds like you didn't read Chip's post. He's not advocating Instant Runoff Voting. He's advocating Fusion Voting.

    In Fusion Voting, you'd have, for example:

    Minnis: Republican Party Minnis: Pro-Life Party Minnis: Anti-Tax Party Brading: Democratic Party Brading: Working Families Party Brading: Green Party

    ...and then, voters could decide which candidate they wanted to vote for and on which line. A Brading voter could, for example, communicate her preference for Rob Brading on the enviro line -- versus another voter, who prefers Rob Brading on the labor line. That tells the legislator where their support came from.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
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    What this would do is encourage the formation of narrower interest Parties, for example the WFP need not set up a structure to campaign for a win as a "third Party" they need simply to cherry pick the two majors' candidates or even a third party's. If you voted straight WFP your ballot might be D,D,R,D,R,R... in a Primary or General.

    The usual comments that follow these electoral fixes is "the two Parties are corrupt, etc." I have no experience with the inner workings of the Republicans, but I am somewhat familiar with Democratic politics and I'm alway curious who it is that is supposed to be so damn corrupt and divorced. DPO? DNC? DLC? Who? The Legislators? I've got news for you, those people call themselves (D) or (R) those labels aren't something conferred by the Party. The voters in a Primary either agree or don't. But guess what, folks are real willing to ignore a Primary.

    Democratic voters in the 06 Democratic 2nd CD were offered four pretty different views of a Democrat, most couldn't be bothered to vote. The winner got the vote of about 12% of the registed Democrats. You get what you deserve. This fix, like most, proposes to deal with something other than the problem. Non-voters aren't going to join the WFP and neither are most Indies, they don't want a Party. Ask them. I have.

  • George Seldes (unverified)
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    Kari,

    Here's Art. II, Sect. 16 of the Oregon Constitution. Expressly allows for preference voting and a majority winner requirement. That's what IRV is. The Constitution even says that the state can impose IRV onto political parties for nominations (where it is ideally suited).

    Where's the fusion provision you mention?

    Section 16. Election by plurality; proportional representation. In all elections authorized by this constitution until otherwise provided by law, the person or persons receiving the highest number of votes shall be declared elected, but provision may be made by law for elections by equal proportional representation of all the voters for every office which is filled by the election of two or more persons whose official duties, rights and powers are equal and concurrent. Every qualified elector resident in his precinct and registered as may be required by law, may vote for one person under the title for each office. Provision may be made by law for the voter’s direct or indirect expression of his first, second or additional choices among the candidates for any office. For an office which is filled by the election of one person it may be required by law that the person elected shall be the final choice of a majority of the electors voting for candidates for that office. These principles may be applied by law to nominations by political parties and organizations. [Constitution of 1859; Amendment proposed by initiative petition filed Jan. 29, 1908, and adopted by the people June 1, 1908]
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    i may be missing something here, but how does "yay i joined a 3rd party & i get to vote for a Dem/Rep" make things better for the people who don't want to vote for a D/R? my understanding is that fusion voters are going to vote for one of the two major party candidates and then show that (for example) it was the labor vote that swung the election (because the Oregon Labor Voters Party provided the margin of difference). if voters are going to not vote R/D, then fusion is pointless. at it's best, it serves as another form of exit polling.

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    I'm glad that Rep Shields and others like Brian Boquist are promoting fusion voting. I believe that it is a good idea for several reasons:

    Fusion voting will give voters the opportunity to vote for candidates whose views most closely match their own without running the risk of throwing the election to their least-favorite candidate.

    Fusion voting will, to some extent, open the doors to different forms of coalition building in the Oregon legislature, and put more legislative districts into contention for a broader array of candidates.

    It will also allow voters to make more educated decisions about candidates.

    Voters can expect very different policies from a Democrat who is fused with the independent party or working families than one who is fused with the greens.

    And, as Kari has mentioned, fusion voting will make it clear where the base of support for our legislators is coming from. I believe that this will ultimately make legislators more responsive to their core constituencies.

    I see all of that as a good thing.

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    if voters are going to not vote R/D, then fusion is pointless.

    Perhaps -- althout minor party candidates have had some real successes with fusion voting, which is one of the reasons why partisan legislators in california, Minnesota, and other states have banned it.

    Fusion voting creates a very powerful mechanism to create coalitions that can send a very clear message to the electorate, and can help elect strong candidates who would be otherwise unelectable under the current two-party system. For example, the coalitions that were created under fusion voting helped end Tammany Hall in 1932 when FDR supported a Republican mayor running on an anti-corruption fusion ticket.

    Here's an honest question for you, T.A.:

    Don't you think that a system that invites the kind of cynical manipulation that we saw when Republicans shipped people on buses to put Ralph Nader on the ballot in 2004, or where progressives actively recruited and financed constitition party and libertarian candidates to run for legislative offices is, in a very important way, broken?

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    George, it seems that I was wrong about IRV in the Oregon Constitution. I'm not recalling now where I heard that there was some question - but it sure doesn't look that way to me. Thank you.

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    Democratic voters in the 06 Democratic 2nd CD were offered four pretty different views of a Democrat, most couldn't be bothered to vote.... This fix, like most, proposes to deal with something other than the problem.

    Chuck, you may be looking at this through the wrong end of the telescope. While fusion voting probably wouldn't have encouraged beleaguered D2 Dems to come out, Republicans might have been able to tell Greg Walden something. Using the three examples Kari offered above (GOP, anti-tax, pro-life), it might have been most interesting to see in what configuration people voted. If the pro-lifers came out in large numbers and Walden followed them to a more hard-line stance, this could provide the Dem an opportunity later. Or it could even peel Walden away from the corrupt old DeLay wing of the Congressional GOP.

    In any case, I suspect you'd see some results in D2.

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    In Fusion Voting, you'd have, for example:

    Minnis: Republican Party Minnis: Pro-Life Party Minnis: Anti-Tax Party Brading: Democratic Party Brading: Working Families Party Brading: Green Party

    And if a voter got confused and voted for Brading three times, it would be an overvote and it would not count...

    This works in New York because they have mechanical voting machines that prevent a voter from overvoting (and years and years of experience with it. In addition they have party line voting--one lever votes the Green or Liberal or Demo line).

    This would require a huge voter education effort and to what end? Is a D or R legislator really going to vote differently because 14% of their voters voted the Green (or Right to Life) line? It's hard for me to see that this is anything but a gimmick.

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    "And if a voter got confused and voted for Brading three times, it would be an overvote and it would not count..."

    Wrong. It would count as a vote for Brading, on the Democratic line.

  • Ben Totushek (unverified)
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    I sure hope fusion passes. I've already written my legislators supporting it. Without question, there is no other way for us to break the two-party catch 22.

    The primary way Oregon will benefit more from fusion than from other reforms such as IRV is its effect on voter turnout. Voter registration and turnout will increase, gradually, but significantly. No longer will a third party need to risk spoiling an election to maintain its status, so as the years go by, third party voters will regain faith in the democratic process. As the voter turnout increases, so indeed will the third parties' steam here in Oregon. And as fusion allows success for minor parties, other states will soon see fusion as a tool for vital change, as has already been happening in America. Eventually we may have fusion on a national level. If that had been the case all along, Bush would have never been elected, lest we forget. Although that dream is a long way off, fusion is the one reform that can get us from here to there.

    Instant Runoff Voting is great, and fusion doesn't hinder IRV. On the contrary, cross nominated candidates would only strengthen IRV, and above all, without fusion, radical reforms like IRV are more of a pipe dream. The reason, however, that I'm excited about fusion voting and not IRV is that the implications of fusion are more party-centric. IRV is very candidate centric, which is also good, but American voters and politicians are overwhelmingly party centric, sad to say. Political parties are not bad, but having too few of them is poison to democracy. Therefore, fusion, by addressing the diversity deficiency directly, increasing voter turnout, and creating a movement for significant change in our political system, is the most important reform, and I urge everyone to rally in support of Fusion Voting.

  • Mike Austin (unverified)
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    i may be missing something here, but how does "yay i joined a 3rd party & i get to vote for a Dem/Rep" make things better for the people who don't want to vote for a D/R?

    Thanks, T.A.! The problem with fusion voting is that it preserves the two-party system. IRV actually gives voters much more power because it allows voters to indicate their true preferences better than does fusion voting. (To say nothing of the fact that if third-party candidates can actually win under IRV, then more people might vote third-party.) Isn't it more informative if 15% vote for a true Green Party candidate and their second choice is Brading rather than saying that 15% had no other choice than to vote for a Democrat "masquerading" as a Green?

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    "Thanks, T.A.! The problem with fusion voting is that it preserves the two-party system."

    How it does this while simultaneously leading to the creation of minor parties, I'm not sure.

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    I agree with Paddy up-thread. This really amounts to nothing more than a simplistic form of exit polling on ill-defined "issues". In other words it might give some crude indication about what "issues" a percentage of the electorate that voted for a particualr candidate/party might have.

    So Rep. Shields can learn that 10% of his vote comes from Shields-WFP, 63% Shields-Dem, 8% Shields-Green, etc. ...and this will have a substantive positive affect on what exactly?

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    Part of the point is that candidates will see they got 8% of the vote from working families. The candidate will then know they have a good number of people who voted for them based on working family issues.

    This is especially a big deal in contested races that are not blow outs. A candidate that wins by 5% knows they'd better work hard on environmental issues if they get 10% of their vote from Greens.

    This also gives the smaller parties, such as the Green Party, the ability to endorse candidates outside their party, while still remaining separate. Many times we agree on the candidates, and this gives them an extremely noticeable way of showing it.

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    Two other features are that minor parties can create their own coalitions outside the major parties, and they can also build their parties over time by participating in elections using the cross-endorsement, gaining adherents and notoriety, and finally nominating their own candidate.

    This last is the most compelling to me in the long term; you simply can't start up a party from scratch and realistically hope to snatch enough voters from the majors to be viable all at once. But you have to start somewhere, and fusion allows minor parties to start small and build a following, especially in downticket races where the switch from cross-endorsement to own-endorsement may happen faster.

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    But you have to start somewhere, and fusion allows minor parties to start small and build a following, especially in downticket races where the switch from cross-endorsement to own-endorsement may happen faster.

    Very good point.

  • Ben Totushek (unverified)
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    This really amounts to nothing more than a simplistic form of exit polling on ill-defined "issues".

    Granted, as with exit polling, fusion gives everyone a better idea about what issues matter to people. But fusion does one better than that: Fusion puts real issues back into the political campaigns leading up to the elections.

    Think about it, by politicians needing to compete for third party nominations in order to improve their odds of being elected, the actual issues of those minor parties end up getting alot more air time in the weeks and months leading up to an election, from commercials, to debates, to overall campaign platforms. Some parties hold off on nominating anyone until they're certain of who's priority it is to move their agenda. What this all means is that voters end up being better informed, and the elected officials are far more accountable to the issues of everyone, not just to those of their own party.

  • LT (unverified)
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    But fusion does one better than that: Fusion puts real issues back into the political campaigns leading up to the elections. Think about it, by politicians needing to compete for third party nominations in order to improve their odds of being elected, the actual issues of those minor parties end up getting alot more air time in the weeks and months leading up to an election, from commercials, to debates, to overall campaign platforms.

    Imagine this: a legislative district including a part of a big city, a couple small towns, parts of 2 counties, agricultural areas, a college campus. Last election, major forums were held in the city library auditorium (and broadcast on cable access, as was a cable-only debate), the college campus, and a well known farm in the district. One issue was the challenger promising regularly scheduled town hall meetings if elected. There was no third party candidate.

    The incumbent won by a smaller than expected margin, and by golly has decided maybe town hall meetings are a good idea.

    For all those who love fusion voting, why should residents of the above district pay attention to this proposal--just because some Blue Oregonians think it a peachy keen idea?

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    For all those who love fusion voting, why should residents of the above district pay attention to this proposal--just because some Blue Oregonians think it a peachy keen idea?

    Because not only would those people have been able to get the incumbent to do town hall meetings, but he could have seen that 10% of his vote came from working family supporters, and 5% from Greens, etc., which then show him which issues are very important to his constituents. And he'll know that without the vote from those people, he could lose next time.

    So not only does he hold town halls, but maybe he sponsors some legislation on living wage jobs and protecting the environment. And maybe he holds a town hall on just those topics. And maybe he starts paying attention to what is going on in his district surrounding those issues.

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    LT, I am not sure what you are looking for. No one is suggesting that fusion voting is the perfect voting system, just that it has advantages over our current system.

    Proportional representation functions precisely the same as plurality in a case where there are only two candidates and only one seat being contested. Does that mean that PR and plurality are the same thing? Of course not.

    You can come up with unique scenarios until you are blue in the face where fusion voting won't make a difference, but this doesn't mean fusion voting won't make a difference in a typical candidate array in a typical year.

    == Paddy, am I clear--you don't think fusion voting should be considered because of limitations on our current election technology? Isn't a better answer to improve the technology?

    ==

    littlevoice -- you confuse "one person one vote" with "one vote one candidate". There is absolutely anti-democratic about ordered choice systems, IRV systems, etc.

    In fact, democratic theorists are most critical of the current US system. There is no other voting system out there which does a worse job of translating voter preferences into candidate choice than plurality. The plurality system has some other benefits, but representativeness is definitely NOT one of them.

  • LT (unverified)
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    "Because not only would those people have been able to get the incumbent to do town hall meetings, but he could have seen that 10% of his vote came from working family supporters, and 5% from Greens, etc., which then show him which issues are very important to his constituents. And he'll know that without the vote from those people, he could lose next time."

    Jenni, I'm not sure there are 5% Greens and 10% Working Family Party here in Marion County. There are lots of NAV.

    And by the way, it is a mistake to assume either that you know what any given legislator would do or that the legislator is male.

    My state rep. is Vicki Berger (see Clem and Berger column) and her opponent in 2006 was Connie Garcia. Many people spoke in terms of Vicki vs. Connie rather than partisan considerations.

    NAV as a general rule don't want to be pigeonholed as belonging to a party. As the saying goes, "The I in Independent means I think for myself, thank you very much!". Why would such people choose between R, D, Green, WFP when they can already choose according to individual rather than party.

    (And that is the problem with some schemes--if people met Vicki and Connie and decided they liked one better than the other, why would they support any system where there is a slate elected and the party chooses the legislator? Or what if they live in Dist. 19 or 21 and saw the last election as good vs evil? No one wants to talk about people who are so convinced of their vote it is right vs. wrong and they have no second choice. If you folks want to sell alternate voting ideas, address that reality! Unless theorists visit Oregon and answer questions in town hall fashion from actual Oregonians, this is just an academic exercise.)

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    Obviously the scenario I was using was purely hypothetical, as far as the exact numbers, gender of the legislator, etc.

    I too have a female legislator... although I'd much prefer a male one (Minnis is my legislator, and I'd much rather have Brading).

  • LT (unverified)
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    Jenni, My point is that it is a long way from hypothetical situations and theories to actually implementing a change.

    I was involved in a small way in the change from polling place elections to vote by mail. It took many years and much hard work by a diverse group of people. Our county clerk was actively involved in a number of ways.

    If you want to have an academic discussion, that is one thing. Just don't expect the pragmatic among us to jump in.

    Those of us who live in districts where there is a large NAV presence and only 2 candidates to choose from (of which the Democrat can only dream of the kind of support Rob Brading got last year) would like to see more concrete election reforms, not theoritical discussions.

    Campaign finance reform, outlawing pass throughs, open primary, nonpartisan legislature, and other such ideas already getting more debate than fusion voting, IRV, proportional representation are more appealing.

    I'm glad Marion County has the Senate President, Rep. Clem, Rep. Komp. But many of us recall the days when there were more Democrats in elective office than there are now, and fusion voting isn't going to change that.

  • LT (unverified)
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    The ad above this topic just now advertises (among other things) POLITICAL ROBO CALLS.

    The legislature improved Oregon's elections with the anti-robo call bill just passed. Are elections about "we the people" or about the campaign industry? Fusion voting does not answer that question.

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    LT wrote: For all those who love fusion voting, why should residents of the above district pay attention to this proposal--just because some Blue Oregonians think it a peachy keen idea?

    Seriously, LT. Knock it off. I challenge you to show me a single contributor or commenter that argues that ANY idea should be supported solely because it's mentioned on this blog.

    Chip Shields made a serious and well-reasoned argument for his idea - and frankly, most of the other arguments here on both sides have been similarly serious and well-reasoned.

    Absolutely no one here has made the argument you're railing against. You're setting up a straw-man argument, and then knocking it down.

    You insist that people argue the merits, all the while ignoring the fact that they're doing exactly that. Knock it off.

  • Barbara Warner (unverified)
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    Two technical notes:

    1. Fusion is only used in general elections, not in primaries.

    2. The overvote question: Paddy is wrong and torridjoe is right - more than one vote for the same candidate would be counted as one vote on the major party line (per amendments passed in committee to HB3040), and not thrown out.

  • Mike Austin (unverified)
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    How it does this while simultaneously leading to the creation of minor parties, I'm not sure.

    What exactly is the point of having a minor party on the ballot when it is endorsing a major party candidate? Any electoral "reform" that doesn't increase the possibility of real third-party candidates actually being elected is mere window dressing.

  • Mike Austin (unverified)
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    Part of the point is that candidates will see they got 8% of the vote from working families. The candidate will then know they have a good number of people who voted for them based on working family issues.

    It would be far, far more informative for everyone - elected officials and the electorate - to know that 8% of the electorate voted for the Working Families Party candidate as their first choice and the Democratic Party as their second choice. Even better would be for the legislature to have 8% of its members be from the Working Families Party.

    Fusion voting is analogous to Burgerville selling you MacDonalds food. Sure, buying your Big Mac at Burgerville sends MacDonalds a "message" that customers prefer Burgerville's rest rooms over MacDonalds, but the power is still with MacDonalds. It's monopoly masquerading as competition. The problem isn't that the major parties don't know the will of the electorate: we are all polled damn near to death and as a result they know more about us than we do about ourselves. The problem is that there is very little effective competition in the political sphere and the result is plainly obvious.

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    Fusion voting is about we the people. It provides voters more options than the current system does. It encourages the development of multiple parties more than the current system does. While far from perfect, it is an improvement on the current system.

    It is a concrete election reform with a known track record and is not just a theoretical proposal.

    It is a marginal change to the current system which does not seriously threaten the current duopoly, and should thus be more politically feasible than options like IRV, STV, etc.

    It is a simple change to our current system of voting, so should be easily understood by voters.

    It's a system that any self described Independent and pragmatist like LT ought to support.

    ===

    And by the way, LT, it's ironic that you criticize "academic" and "theoretical" discussions while posting on Jun 19, 2007 7:36:05 PM, a classic "what if" comment.

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    By the way, this statement runs contrary to three decades of survey research: NAV as a general rule don't want to be pigeonholed as belonging to a party..

    There is a very small number of voters (estimates are generally 5-10% of the total populace) who are "true" and thoughtful Independents of the type described above, who reject the notion of parties altogether.

    Another portion of NAV (generally the majority) are detached from or disinterested politics.

    But a large proportion are unhappy with the current party duopoly and would happily affiliate with a party if they saw one that more closely represented their interests.

    Most Americans, by the way, claim to "vote the candidate not the party," regardless of their party affiliation.

  • Ben Totushek (unverified)
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    What exactly is the point of having a minor party on the ballot when it is endorsing a major party candidate? Any electoral "reform" that doesn't increase the possibility of real third-party candidates actually being elected is mere window dressing.

    First of all, you're just wrong. Minor party candidates have to maintain a certain level of votes and/or a certain amount of signatures. That's the main reason for all the spoiler candidates. Fusion gives Minor parties aome much needed breathing room by allowing them to get votes withour having to spoil an election. Following that logic, and drawing an analogy from the biological world, any gardeners here would know, in the presence of oxygen, good bacteria is able to flourish, aerobic bacteria that increases the health of the soil-food-web. By giving third parties room to breath, we will be allowing the good ones to actually grow, and, one day, ELECT THEIR OWN.

    Also please note that fusion voting in New York has not only enabled Working Families Party candidates to be elected to the NYC legislature, it's actually HELPED NEW YORK pass good statewide legislation. Using fusion voting as an incentive the working families party was able to get a right wing majority state house in New York to overturn the infamous "Rockefellar Drug Laws" that were overcrowding its prisons and the conservative city council in NYC to pass a living wage ordinance of around 10.00 an hour. I would hardly call those reforms "window dressing". Your thoughts? Perhaps they should have held off fighting for them until IRV was magically instated.

    It would be far, far more informative for everyone - elected officials and the electorate - to know that 8% of the electorate voted for the Working Families Party candidate as their first choice and the Democratic Party as their second choice. Even better would be for the legislature to have 8% of its members be from the Working Families Party.

    Already answered. Please whole thread before posting. Paul wrote:

    LT, I am not sure what you are looking for. No one is suggesting that fusion voting is the perfect voting system, just that it has advantages over our current system.

    Furthermore, scroll up and read my first post. One final note about IRV: the cost of voter education in San Francisco was through the roof. It's much more complicated than fusion. The only election reform that the legislature can possibly pass at this moment is fusion. Instead of bickering about which improvement is greatest, how about picking up a phone and calling your legislators asking them to support fusion.

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    Those of us who live in districts where there is a large NAV presence and only 2 candidates to choose from (of which the Democrat can only dream of the kind of support Rob Brading got last year) would like to see more concrete election reforms, not theoritical discussions.

    Maybe some of us who live in such districts would like to have such discussions. After all, until we actually try fusion voting, we'd have no idea of what the Election Day outcome would be. So we can only use hypothetical numbers. But we can use examples from other states that have used Fusion Voting. And from the presentations I've seen on it, it typically does exactly as I'd shown in my example.

    While we did get a good amount of support and money in this house district last election cycle, that was an anomaly. The two districts I've lived in have both been districts where we typically have only 2 candidates (Dem, Repub) and a large number of NAV and smaller party voters. And until the 2006 election, neither typically get either large amounts of support or money.

    28% of the voters in HD 49 are NAV or with a minor party. That's 7,613 people. 25% of the voters in HD 50 are NAVs or with a minor party. That's 7,666. Overall, the county has a 28.8% NAV/minor party registration (Statewide is 25.6%). A quick glance at the numbers showed most House Districts have around 6-8,000 NAV and minor party voters. Three House Districts topped that: HD 33 (10,698), HD 42 (10,577), and HD 54 (10.051). Two of those are Portland metro (33 and 42) and the other is in Bend.

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    Fusion voting does not mean that a minor party only nominates major party candidates. A lot of the anti-fusion laws date back to the period of the Populist movement, e.g. in 1896 the People's Party ran local candidates against both Ds and Rs while nominating William Jennings Bryan (the D presidential candidate) at the top of the ticket. Of course, many in the People's Party objected to that cross-nomination -- in the upper midwest the more radical populists later went after the party duopoly with the Non-Partisan League.

    But it could work the other way too. The Greens could cross-endorse a good D or R on their issues locally, and still run a "spoiler" on the presidential line if both major parties run say uncritical free trade candidates, as seems likely -- so could the WFP, though that is much less likely as they pretty much function as a labor caucus for Dems. (I'm curious if anyone knows if WFP avoids "cultural" issues like abortion rights and LGBT rights to focus more exclusively on economic class issues & if so what they think of that.)

    In New York, while WFP has shaken things up a bit, and the 1932 ref is true, for most of the later 20th century fusion gave rise to minor parties controlled by bosses who used their ballot lines to shake down the majors for patronage. That possibility is one of its disadvantages compared to IRV or proportional rep.

  • Richard Winger (unverified)
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    <h2>Fusion helps minor parties get their own member/candidates elected. In 1992 four Libertarians in New HAmpshire got the Libertarian nomination and the Republican nomination, and they were shown on the November ballot as "Libertarian, Republican" and they were elected.</h2>

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