“Fusion voting,” whereby minor parties endorse major-party candidates, has long distorted New York politics, so it’s great to see a drive to end it.
The simple fact is that minor parties that play the cross-endorsing game routinely decay into mere patronage machines, as did the old Liberal party did. Or, as with the Working Families Party, they’re founded to serve special interests while waving an ideological banner.
And, by delivering a small but crucial number of votes, they can wind up becoming “the tail wagging the dog,” as Cortland County Democratic Chairman Tim Perfetti puts it: Anti-democratic horse-trading leads elected officials to appease the interests and beliefs of small minorities at the expense of the broader good.
Only seven other states allow fusion voting — and none abuse the process like New York. Activists who truly mean to offer an alternative should field their own candidates, as the Greens and Libertarians do.
Yes, the WFP charges Gov. Cuomo’s thirst for vengeance was behind last week’s Democratic State Committee vote in favor of an end to fusion voting. The governor’s office denies that motive — indeed, insists Cuomo is neutral on the question. On the other hand, the gov’s certainly been at war with the WFP off and on for years.
But so what? Whatever their reasons, Cuomo and state Chairman Jay Jacobs did the right thing in putting the party on record as favoring reform.
Question is, will they follow through by pushing the Legislature to end this electoral disgrace once and for all ?
The WFP has been fighting back, recruiting endorsements from the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders. (Then again, lifelong Socialist Party member Sanders is mounting his own takeover of the national Democratic Party, so of course he’d approve.)
More important, the WFP got 26 state senators to sign a letter demanding that Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins preserve fusion voting.
So now it’s up to Cuomo: Is he going to stop after giving the WFP a scare — or push hard for a reform that would make New York politics far healthier?
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