Cuomo and “Fusion Voting” in the Democratic People’s Republic of New York

“Fusion voting” refers to candidates running on multiple ballot lines. For example, Republican and Conservative (a frequent combo). It’s obvious the Conservative Party is free to nominate a candidate also running as a Republican. And obvious that votes on both lines should count together in that candidate’s total.

Obvious? Not so fast. This is Andrew Cuomo’s Democratic People’s Republic of New York.

New York’s governorship is probably America’s most powerful, because our Court of Appeals has ruled that the governor may put any policy whatsoever in the state’s annual budget proposal, and the legislature has only an up-or-down vote on the whole package. This virtually neuters the concept of division of power, and checks and balances. Especially when the legislature is controlled (as now, and likely forever) by the Governor’s party. This is an imperial governorship.

Maybe OK if the governor happens to be an angel of virtue. But we have Andrew Cuomo.

Now he’s bypassed the legislature entirely by setting up a commission to institute public campaign financing. The commission’s plan won’t be tweakable by the legislature. They can only throw it out entirely. Fat chance.

Needless to say, the majority of the commission was handpicked by guess-who. Its chair is Jay Jacobs, who also happens to chair the State Democratic party. Handpicked by guess-who.

And guess what else the commission has under consideration? Outlawing fusion voting. As if that has anything to do with campaign finance.

Cuomo publicly insists he has no dog in the fusion voting fight. Dishonesty incredibly approaching Trumpian heights.*

Cuomo is royally pissed at, in particular, the Working Families Party. This is a left-wing outfit (credit them for clever branding on the name) that backed his primary challenger Cynthia Nixon in the last election. Cuomo wants all these third parties gone.

Now, he can’t just outlaw them. That at least is obvious, even in the DPRNY. (At least I think it is.) But he can eviscerate their clout by outlawing fusion. If the WFP cannot endorse a Democratic candidate and add its votes to that candidate’s total, its leverage with the Democratic party disappears. Its political mojo collapses.

Cuomo plans to run for a fourth term. Killing the WFP will greatly boost his chances. No dog in the fusion voting fight?

I believe in democracy. I believe a political party should be able to nominate whoever it wants, and have those votes count. And I believe a major change to our election system — especially one that so undemocratically restricts political parties — should not be rammed through by a handpicked body with virtually no accountability to legislators or voters.

*Also lately, regarding his planned $25 fee to replace all license plates over ten years old, Cuomo relentlessly insisted the $25 had been set by the legislature, and it was up to them to change it. In fact, the legislature had stipulated a fee UP TO $25, and it was entirely Cuomo’s decision to charge the maximum. Public outrage forced him to back down.

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3 Responses to “Cuomo and “Fusion Voting” in the Democratic People’s Republic of New York”

  1. Lee Says:

    I think you didn’t mention the most salient facet. Isn’t it the case that any party that get at least 5% of the votes in the general election for governor gets a line on each ballot for the next four years, without having to gain access through petition drives and similar? The main reason that the Working Families, Conservative, etc. parties want to keep fusion voting and list a major party candidate is to get this ballot access.

    I am thinking the fundamental question is, do these minor parties deserve this four-year ballot access simply because they list a major party’s candidate and get enough voters to vote for that candidate on their ballot line? If the answer is “no”, that they should have to gain their ballot access through some more rigorous means such as having their own candidate get 5% of the votes, then maybe the governor is onto something.

    Even if the governor is right, that’s no excuse to use underhanded approaches. But if he is in fact right on the fundamental question, we should at least give him credit for that.

  2. Lee Says:

    Personally, I agree that minor parties should be able to choose any candidates they want to, including major party candidates, and that a candidate’s vote total should be the sum of all votes regardless of the party. My question concerns the four-year ballot access based upon the 5% rule. If a minor party deserves that kind of automatic access, shouldn’t it be for something other than simply mirroring another party?

  3. rationaloptimist Says:

    You raise an excellent point about the 5% rule, I failed to point that out; outlawing fusion voting will probably prevent these smaller parties from getting automatic ballot lines. But I think the 5% rule is itself actually undemocratic. Indeed ballot access in New York is the most restricted in the country.

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