If the last few elections have taught me anything, it’s that we still need to revisit how we handle elections in this country. Voting fraud aside (save that for another post), I have never been convinced that our monolithic two-party system serves us best. How many times have friends or family members spoken about “choosing the lesser of two evils,” or “choosing either is the same as choosing both?” Regardless of majority or minority, neither party ever has anything to lose because they are always represented on the Hill, in one branch or another. As wacky as he might have been, I remember when Ross Perot really shook things up when he dove into the race. I rather liked the idea of shaking up the establishment, because the perception of power loss really whips these people into shape. Our ace in the hole, as it were.
But, how do we buck the system without feeling like we’re throwing away votes that would otherwise ensure an assclown doesn’t get elected?
What is fusion? Also known as open ballot voting or cross-endorsement, fusion allows a candidate to run for office as the standard-bearer of more than one party. Suppose the WFP decides to cross-endorse the Democrat. That candidate will show up twice on the ballot, and voters will get to choose to support him or her on the party line of their choice. The votes will get counted separately but then added together to determine the final outcome of the race.
So why does it matter? Scott Shields put it well in a MyDD post:
Well, by supporting Eliot Spitzer as a Working Families Party candidate rather than as a Democrat…voters send the message that the issues Working Families champions – universal healthcare, a living wage, strong labor protection – are very important to a significant segment of their base. It also gives independent voters an excuse to vote for major party candidates that they might not otherwise vote for.
If I read this right, this method sounds like a demographic tool to inform the winning candidate which supporters voted under which platform of importance. This is all fine and good, but the cynical part of my brain is asking how this would affect anything. Even if a candidate wins by overwhelming endorsement from WFP voters, why would that fact provide any impetus for the candidate to address WFP’s issues with a higher priority over the candidate’s own party? I’m not seeing how the end result is different than what we already have.
What other election/voting ideas have you come across?