Fusion voting. Should we revisit ballot design from the 1800s?

Fusion voting was common in the 1800s, but largely disappeared with the rise of the two-party system in the 1900s. It was also referred to as cross-endorsement or open-ballot voting.

With fusion voting, third parties like the Green Party line, or the Conservative Party line, can endorse a major-party candidate when they’re not putting forth a candidate of their own. This results in a candidate showing up on two or more lines on the ballot.

Some election reformers believe fusion ballots might remedy the increasing polarization in politics and could entice more younger voters, who are often registered as Independent, to the polls.

Professor Julia Sass Rubin, who has been popular in the media this Spring for challenging party line ballots, makes a case for bringing back fusion voting in the Garden State Gazette.

“It’s also a way for smaller parties to communicate their beliefs to the broader electorate — and even gain strength, said Julia Sass Rubin, a professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

New Jersey is a two-party state largely because it requires a party to receive at least 10% of all votes cast in the state’s last general election in order to be recognized as a political party and hold a primary contest, Rubin said. To maintain its status as a political party, it must continue to receive 10% of the vote in biannual Assembly elections.

Such rules make it virtually impossible for new parties to form and bypass the machine-controlled county candidate selection process, Rubin said.

Fusion could help diversify politics as it has in New York.”

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