Despite recent requests by some elected officials for the end of the vote by fusion in New York, while the state is moving to reform its electoral processes, there is little evidence that the unusual cross-support system of minor parties it will soon be demolished. Here is a guide to everything you need to know about the system, its strengths and weaknesses and who is for and against it.
What is the casting vote?
When a candidate is supported and approved by more than one party in the ballot or appears on more than one card, it is known as a casting vote. This can also be called a cross-poll vote.
For a third part to appear in the New York runoff, there are two steps. First of all, the party must accumulate 15,000 signatures of registered voters. At this point, the party can select their candidates and appear in the runoff of that year. In New York, as in seven other states, the party can choose to select candidates who are already candidates on the other side.
At the time of election, the party must receive 50,000 votes for the governor to guarantee a voting line for the next four years. Thus, smaller parties can maintain their own ballot by generally approving the Democratic candidate for the governor – as the progressive party of working families does – or the candidate republican governor – as the conservative party does. Other parties, such as the Green Party and the Libertarian Party, have a history of naming their candidates for the governor and still manage to reach the 50,000 mark.
Which states allow the casting vote?
New York is not the only state that allows for casting vote, even if it is one of the few including Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina and Vermont.
What are the official minor parts of New York?
Apart from the republican and democratic parties, there are five official parties in New York: green, independence, reforms, conservative and working families.
The Women's Equality Party was created in 2014 by Cumo, but lost its turn to vote in 2018 after it did not receive the 50,000 votes needed to continue as an automatic voting line for the next four years.
Some third-party approval trends show partisan divisions, such as the Working Families Party that usually supports a Democratic candidate. Other third parties, such as the Independence Party and the Party of Reforms, pass transversally but are less predictable than the Conservatives and the WFP in which the party's candidate will support. The Liberal Party, now dead, has also supported the candidates of both the main parties, and occasionally their candidates.
What are some other third parties in New York?
In the recent elections, there were some unique third parties who came to the polls. Reports city and state here on some of the strangest examples.
What are the advantages of this system?
The casting vote allows minor parties to exercise greater influence in the elections. Voters are able to support smaller parties by voting for the candidate on a specific ballot even though they do not necessarily approve the main parties. "It allows some segments of the community to form their own parties based on their own problems," said Jerry Goldfeder, a veteran electoral attorney in New York. "It allows voters to have a choice on which line to vote for a particular candidate."
In voting along minority voting lines, voters are able to send a more specific message on which policies they support. Someone on the left can, for example, vote on the WFP line to express a preference for a more aggressive progressive agenda without wasting a vote on a desperate Green Party candidate and potentially helping to elect a Republican by removing votes from the Democratic candidate. "The merger offers those voters the best of both worlds: they can cast a significant vote for a candidate with a credible chance of winning while expressing their support for the third-party agenda," wrote Adam Morse and JJ Gas for Brennan Center of Justice.
Third parties are also able to hold the candidates responsible for their party lines. The Conservative Party or the Working House Party could hold back an endorsement if a candidate is not sufficiently liberal or conservative for them – or, in the case of WFP's approvals for county judges, only too corrupt or unqualified.
What are the disadvantages?
Opponents of the casting vote state that smaller parties have too many powers because candidates will be vying to get support. The Daily News reported that state senator Diane Savino, a Democrat from Staten Island, called for the abrogation of the casting vote because "it allows minor parties to hijack large parties". The minor parts could be interpreted as pulling the candidates to extremes and making it more difficult for the moderates, like Savino, to stay in power.
Also the vote on the merger causes a disorderly run-off. "It could be confusing for a voter to see a candidate on multiple lines," Goldfeder said. Other complexities may also arise. Cynthia Nixon lost the Democratic government primary to Cuomo last year, but remained on the run-off as nominated by WFP for District 66 of the Assembly. To be completely removed from the vote, a candidate must register to vote in another state or die. In the past, perhaps the most notorious thing in the case of the Liberal Party, the merger vote has sometimes allowed the minor parties to turn into clientelist machines that trade approvals for jobs or other favors.
Who supports the casting vote?
The New York State legislature received a letter this week from a number of New York congressional representatives supporting the merger vote. Among the 17 signatures of the New York Congress delegation were the representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who showed their support in both the main and left part of the party. Even the US Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand supported the letter.
Although the Gov. office Andrew Cuomo has not issued a statement on the question of casting vote, Cuomo is known to support smaller parties and the cross-poll system. In 2013, he requested ending the so-called Wilson-Pakula process, in which party leaders grant permission for a candidate registered with another party to run on their line. Cuomo has also had a particularly conflictual relationship with the WFP over the years.
Who is against the casting vote?
In addition to Savino, Democratic committee president Jay Jacobs also expressed his dissatisfaction with the vote by merger, saying that it "undermines the Democratic Party". Other opponents include Erie County Democratic President Jeremy Zellner and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
So what happens next?
With the state legislature now being controlled by the Democrats, other electoral reforms passed rapidly at the beginning of January. The changes included the closure of the loophole LLC, several days of early voting, the consolidation of the primary state and federal voting days and the possibility of pre-registering grades for young people aged 16 and 17. The merger vote has not yet been addressed from a legislative point of view.