Monday, March 19, 2007

Going Beyond the "Maine" Parties

You may remember us mentioning in October that Massachusetts was considering the adoption of fusion voting, which would allow candidates to be listed on the ballot next to more than one party. This system, which has found great success in New York, was unfortunately resoundingly opposed by Massachusetts voters last November.

Now some in Maine are similarly looking to us for inspiration on ballot access. The Kennebec Journal ran an op-ed yesterday by the director of a public affairs program at Colby College, calling for Mainers to take a hard look at fusion voting. L. Sandy Maisel writes:
I have long opposed third parties as divisive and argued that those who support third parties waste their votes, often with the effect of electing the person they least favor in a multi-candidate race. Think of Green Party voters in Florida in 2000 who elected President Bush, despite the fact that most of them would have favored Al Gore if only the two major party candidates had been running.

But that argument does not hold in New York, because in New York minor parties are allowed to nominate one of the major party candidates as their candidate as well -- and the votes cast for that candidate on any party lines on which his or her name appears are added to that candidate's total vote.
We at the Brennan Center have long touted fusion voting as an effective way for minor parties to gain some footing while avoiding the spoiler problem mentioned by Ms. Maisel. We hope Maine voters will use New York as a positive example and adopt some form of fusion voting.

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