A placeholder party

How fusion voting would work
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  June 28, 2006

Unlike most new parties, a new Working Families Party would not try to puff up its numbers by getting people to switch parties. In a fusion-voting world, things work differently. For one thing, most of its members would vote in the Democratic Party’s primary.

Say the Democratic primary pits Pete Progressive against Mary Moderate. Working Families would endorse Pete, and encourage people to vote for him in the Democratic primary.

Meanwhile, the Working Families Party (or any other duly-registered third party) would have its own primary, featuring a single candidate — a placeholder who has no desire to actually win the office. Thanks to an obscure election law, that person can officially withdraw immediately after the primary, and the Working Families Party can replace that name with anyone they want.

If Pete won the Democratic primary, Working Families would select him as its replacement. On the general-election ballot, Pete’s name would appear on both the Democratic Party and Working Family lines — and votes from both would be tallied together. Working Families would encourage voters to mark its line, to make clear that they are voting for him because of his position on policies that dovetail with those of Working Families.

But what if Mary wins the Democratic primary? That gives Working Families yet more options.

In most cases, Working Families would probably leave its own line blank and sit out the contest. But the party could challenge the Democrats by making Pete its nominee anyway — and, in some cases, they will do so, says the Public Policy Institute’s Judy Meredith. In New York, Albany County elected a district attorney this way, electing him as the Working Families candidate even after he lost the Democratic Party’s primary. The upset victory “sent reverberations across the state,” and ultimately helped persuade the state legislature to pass drug-law reform that the DA had emphasized in the campaign, says Karen Scharff of Citizens Action of New York.
  Topics: News Features , Elections and Voting, Politics, U.S. Politics,  More more >
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