Wednesday, November 08, 2006

No on 2: Fusion Voting

No on 2: Fusion Voting - The Boston Globe: "FRUSTRATED VOTERS who want more competition in Massachusetts politics already have means to inject issues and energy into campaigns. The state doesn't need a whole new apparatus that could confuse voters further and drive debate to the fringes. Although we agree the current system needs a shake-up, we don't think so-called fusion voting is the answer. We urge a No vote on Question 2.

Under fusion voting, issue-oriented parties that attain at least 3 percent of the vote in a statewide election -- the Working Families Party, perhaps, or the Taxpayer Party, or Right-to-Life Party -- appear on subsequent ballots along with the traditional Democratic and Republican lines. The parties can run their own candidates or -- in a "fusion" move -- offer a major-party candidate a place on their line. Thus in New York State, which has a long tradition of fusion voting, Hillary Clinton appears as a candidate for US Senate as a Democrat and as the candidate of the Working Families Party, and of whichever other party whose endorsement she accepts.

In Massachusetts, the Working Families Party is promoting Question 2. They say it would let voters show their support for a particular agenda, for example, increasing the minimum wage, by casting their ballot for a candidate on the Working Families line. The party could then prove to the candidate that its agenda commands a certain number of votes. It's a powerful organizing tool for the issue groups, but it is less clear how it would encourage competition. The experience with fusion in New York has not been pristine; some parties have used it to exact patronage jobs or favors.

Although it's not easy, issue-oriented candidates can run and win in Massachusetts now without the support of party insiders. Campaign-finance reform, same-day voter registration, and more frequent debates could help open the process more. The two-party system in Massachusetts has its problems, but Question 2 isn't the way to fix it."

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