Movement on the Working Family Party

On Monday, organizers turned in 20,000 petition signatures to put a new party on the ballot for 2008: the Working Families Party

The party needs to submit 18,908 valid signatures to gain ballot status, and has until late-January 2008, said Margie Franz, compliance specialist for the state Elections Division.

But organizers are shooting to qualify sooner, so they can hold a nominating convention by late August and consider candidates for the November ballot.

The Working Families Party (WFP) is focused on providing greater security and opportunity for Oregonians by improving access to health care, higher ed, and retirement benefits while promoting and defending jobs.  The WFP isn't interested in becoming a splinter party and a major element in organizers' strategy is to introduce "fusion voting" to Oregon, wherein more than one party is allowed to nominate a candidate.  Votes are tallied separately, but combine for a candidate's total.  The idea is that this gives a candidate more information about who has voted and why, strengthening the voices of third-party voters. 

Although the WFP is likely to make the ballot, proponents have abandoned an initiative that would have put fusion voting on the ballot. 

Instead, the party will work with others, including the Libertarian Party, to lobby the 2007 Legislature to support fusion voting, said Tim Nesbitt, a volunteer with the Working Families Party and former president of the Oregon AFL-CIO.

Organizers plan to continue to gather petitions and submit a batch next week to ensure they have enough valid signatures to make the ballot.

You can read more about the Working Families Party, which has been discussed extensively on BlueOregon, here (pro) and here (con), as well as here (fusion voting).

  • Mike Austin (unverified)

    Sorry, but fusion voting is just about the stupidest "reform" I've ever heard of. Why didn't these folks spend their time and money on getting an IRV initiative on the ballot? This would have provided elected officials with the same amount of information as fusion voting would, but, more importantly, IRV would actually give third-party candidates a viable chance at winning elections.

    The only way to get the Democratic party to listen to progressives is either for progressives to take over the party or to truly open up the electoral process so that third-party candidates are viable and there is - finally! - some competition to the Democratic party stranglehold on the "liberal" side of the political spectrum.

  • (Show?)

    IRV only gives you more information if you release the total for all the various combinations in the first round -- something that I don't think is done in any government body that uses it.

    In other words, you'd have to tell people:

    37% Kulongoski/Hill/Sorenson 20% Hill/Sorenson/Kulongoski 15% Hill/Kulongoski/Sorenson 10% Kulongoski/Sorenson/Hill 10% Sorenson/Hill/Kulongoski 8% Sorenson/Kulongoski/Hill

    ...and not just the totals: - first round: Kulongoski 47, Hill 25, Sorenson 18 - final result: Kulongoski 55%, Hill 35%

    (These numbers are completely made up, and reflect nothing.)

  • (Show?)

    And, incidentally, you asked IRV would actually give third-party candidates a viable chance at winning elections.

    But of course, it's not about winning elections (shocker!), it's about wielding power in governance.

    Right now, the only path to power is to win an election. Under fusion, you wield power almost like a proportional representation system.

    Imagine for a moment if someone wins the governorship with 25% support from Democrats, 15% support from WFP, and 15% support from Greens. Now it's much clearer that he/she needs to continue to govern in such a way as to win the support of those three parties. If one of the parties abandons him/her in the next election, he/she is sunk.

    In New York, that's exactly how minor parties have wielded power.

  • (Show?)

    Uhh, Kari, what exactly is the difference then, between "fusion voting" and our current system? There's no law that says that Greens, for example, can't tell their supporters "Vote for the Democrat in this race or vote for the Republican".

    Is this all just whether a name is placed on the ballot under the "Green" label? If so, that's a pretty big todo about not very much.

    From a ALCU perspective, I have a lot less trouble with fusion voting than I do the "One Ballot" initiative. At least this doesn't effectively remove from my Party the right to choose what we feel is our best nominee for any particular position.

    Still, while it isn't unconstitutional, fusion voting does, as you say, force candidates to "govern in such a way as to win the support" of various extreme splinter group parties.

    The question is, is that good for the nation? Do we really need politicians to pander even more to their respective wingnut "base" than they already do?

  • (Show?)

    Well, the difference between fusion and now is that you would actually see the numbers in the elections results.

  • (Show?)

    People -- Kari's second post is right on. (Not to say there is anything wrong with the others. :-0!) But what he mentioned is the whole point --- to actually prove to a candidate who becomes elected, where is the key swing vote that got him or her into office. Without that information, an elected like, oh say, a really DLC-ish Governor in, hmm, let's imagine, in a very progressive, politically active Western state, would be able to go blithely along for perhaps two entire terms without really understanding what block of voter/activists he owes his office to. The WFP will consolidate the progressive vote behind issues and the candidate who carries that agenda forward will get the support. The visibility on the ballot on the party line is what matters, and that isn't so much the case with IRV, imho.

  • (Show?)

    I ran a Mayor's race in New York last year -- which has fusion voting -- and the strongest argument for such a system here is in fact the Working Families Party itself. We had a broad coalition behind us, but no one delivered more for their endorsement than the WFP.

    The WFP's organizers were able to tap into universes of voters that we simply didn't have the resources to reach, and they did the type of low-tech, high impact organizing that wins races for progressives. Basically, a lot of neighbor to neighbor, work site organizing.

    It's a misunderstanding of fusion voting and the relationship between the Democratic and Working Families Party to see the two at cross purposes. WIth all due respect, T.A.'s "division on the left" argument (from the linked post) is really at odds with how campaigns up there really work.

    The Working Families Party is not, by the way, just a party that adds value to campaigns in uber left places like the Village or Upper West Side or whereever. They've done their most important work in swing area burb, and have made the winning margins in many races.

    From a campaign perspective, the WFP is another set of hands to go out and promote your candidate (even though the pitch is more about the party than the individual usually). I know the organizers have no interest in playing a spoiler role here, but if they're able to talk to butter about bread and butter issues, that's a good thing.

  • (Show?)

    Kari, my Google Alert found my name in your last comments in this thread. I am surprised by the vehemence of your series of incorrect statements.

    First, if someone wanted to express "independence from political parties," then why did that person check the box on the voter registration form clearly marked "Independent Party"? Why did that person not mark the box for "Not a member of a party" or merely mark no box at all?

    Second, your reference to me is entirely gratuitous. Do Republcans intend to join the party created by John C. Fremont and friends?

    Third, we are constantly urging anyone who is confused to leave the Independent Party. That invitation has been on the front page of the IPO website for quite a while.

    Fourth, you make several incorrect statements, including:

    We should go back to the way the law was just a few short years ago, and use "independent" to describe unaffiliated voters - and prohibit the use of the word "independent" in the name of political parties.
    To my knowledge, the word "independent" has never been used to describe unaffiliated voters in Oregon. So, I believe your statement is incorrect.

    Prior to its change by the Legislature in 2005, the word "independent" was used on the ballot to describe a candidate who qualified for the ballot by petitioning, but that is not your statement. And it was the Democrats who decided to change that in 2005, because (I believe) they so feared petitioned-for candidates (e.g., Ralph Nader) that they did not want their name to appear on the ballot with the favorable word "independent." Instead, they wanted their names to appear, if at all, with the unfavorable word "non-affiliated," which implies a loner, misfit loser. This bill was the companion to HB 2614, which more than doubled the difficulty of collecting sufficient signatures to qualify such a candidate for the ballot.

    Since you think this change was so bad, Kari, I assume you (like me) testified against those bills. Let's see . . . you did not.


  • (Show?)

    Further, any cursory glance at easily disproves your statement that the Party has not taken positions on many issues other than "minor party election law." For example, the Party very adamantly supports limits on political campaign contributions -- for all candidates and all campaigns. Further, all but one of the issues from our 2009 Legislative Agenda (on the home page) were not "minor party election law." The agenda included getting electronic voter registration, vastly expanding disclosure of state revenue and spending, bypassing the Electoral College when electing the President, and reestablishing the ability of persons who vote in Oregon's primary election to sign petitions for non-affiliated candidates for public office. None of these issues are "minor party election law."

    As for your advocacy of "fusion, IRV, and other reforms to give voters greater ability to communicate their preferences to the political system," I did not see you at the 2009 legislative hearings on those issues. I was there to testify for IRV and fusion. And do you not consider minor party internet voting to be a reform that vastly increases the opportunity of members "to communicate their preferences to the political system," compared with the usual minor party conventions? If the Independent Party does it, it must not be reform, because everything the Independent Party does is just stupid, right?

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