By KC Hanson of Portland, Oregon. KC is the Chair of the Multnomah County Democratic Party and personally supports the concept of fusion voting.
From the homepage of the Independent Party of Oregon:
"The IPO may hold a primary election in July (2010), if it can raise sufficient funds to mail to its 54,000+ members and cover the other costs of an election. If the IPO does not conduct the primary election, its nominees will be chosen either by the 5-person IPO Caucus previously elected by the IPO membership."
The second passage above is the catalyst that's behind the Democratic Party of Oregon's (DPO) complaint to the Oregon SOS regarding the IPO's proposed nomination process. The IPO's second option: a 5 member board deciding nominations of the 54k member party should be particularly worrisome for grassroots members of the IPO.
Concern over nomination processes for minor parties has hit center stage with last year's passage of Senate Bill 326, which allows a candidate to list on the ballot up to 2 other nominating parties in addition to his or her originating party.
In the complaint (pdf), the DPO correctly cites ORS 248.009, which states:
"The nominating process (minor parties) for candidates for election at the general election shall provide an equal opportunity for all registered members of the party within the electoral district to participate in making nominations or selecting the delegates who make nominations."
While the IPO clearly infers that the 5 member nomination board is sufficient for the third largest Oregon Party, the DPO reasonably questions if this is adequate representation of IPO Party rank and file, and formalized it's request for the SOS to intervene.
In essence, while the Dems may be challenging the processes proposed by the leadership of the IPO, the DPO is actually taking action which would benefit rank and file IPO Party membership.
Ironically, if the IPO was allowed to nominate (co-nominate) candidates at the behest of only its leadership, it is highly possible that the leadership would make more liberal selections than would the rank and file members. The more conservative selections that could be made by a full membership vote hardly would be in the best interests of the Democratic Party, but definitely in the best interest of democratic process.
While the Multnomah County Democratic Party is not a participant in the DPO complaint, we are confident that the SOS will act in the best interest of all Oregon voters, especially those registered with the Independent Party.
Update: In today's Oregonian, Independent Party Secretary Sal Peralta announced that the IPO will be conducting a July "internet based" primary, while IPO Vice Chair Dan Meek revealed that he would have preferred a small group nomination process "that would force candidates to meet several "'litmus tests'".
Conducting a nomination process is no small feat, and the revelation that the small leadership group is not in sync makes their task more daunting. They're under a tight time constraint, and they endeavor to use an untested process which also happens to be very controversial among members of the Election Reform community. Clearly, there is much more to come on this story.