Every vote can count? Tell me how.

I found an extraordinarily useful resource, a site called The American Voice, operated by a fellow who calls himself Dr. Dave and which -- mirable dictu! -- addresses issues of voting, government, and social import in straight informative answers. No spin I can see.

I was led to this site for this particular question:

Q. Is it possible to hold elections where every vote counts and a vote for a minority party or candidate is not wasted?

The answer he gives is thorough, extensive, and comprehensive and includes fusion, Instant Runoff, and other methods, but I'll just include this excerpt on fusion:

A. You bet. And best of all, every strategy designed to enable racial minorities, minority viewpoints and minority parties a real voice in elections has been used at one time or another here in the good old US of A. You’re looking for an election system in which, in the words of Fair Vote Minnesota, “Voters can vote their conscience without fear of not having a voice in the final outcome.”

One such process is called fusion. Under fusion, a minority party can endorse a major party candidate. Thus the candidates name appears on two lines on the ballot. The votes on each line are added together for purposes of electing the candidate. In close races the minority party can claim credit for generating the margin of victory. Which should give it some influence in policy making circles of the winning majority party.

New York is a fusion state. Neither FDR in 1940 or 1944, nor JFK in 1960 received enough votes on the Democratic Party line to carry New York. They prevailed only when Liberal party line votes were added. In 1980, Jimmy Carter received more votes as a Democrat than Ronald Reagan did as a Republican, but Reagan carried New York because of the votes he gained on the Conservative Party’s ballot line.
Great, right? Well, not so fast. States started banning the procedure in 1892, when one party found itself losing an election because of this procedure. In 1996, The New Party of Minnesota challenged the ban and an appeals court upheld their case, but:

In 1997 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Appeals Court’s decision. By 6-3 the Court ruled, “ballots are designed primarily to elect candidates, not to serve as fora for political expression.” And it added, surprisingly and ominously, “States also have a strong interest in the stability of their political systems…the states’ interest permits them to enact reasonable election regulations that may, in practice, favor the traditional two party system, and that temper the destabilizing effects of party splintering excessive factionalism.” Never before had the Court formally declared the maintenance of a “two party system” sufficient justification for discriminating against minor parties.

Today there are only ten states which still allow some form of fusion. Dr. Dave answers questions ranging from the price of gasoline to stem cell research, giving, as far as I can see, "Just the facts, ma'am." Check it out. Great ammo for election year arguments, regardless of which side you take. Other sites discussing reform and improvement of voting procedures, including fusion, Instant Runoff (IRV) and others:

Yes Magazine

Green Party

Working Families Party


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