New York State Makes Arbitrary Choice to Credit Over-Votes for a Fusion Candidate to the Democratic and Republican PartiesSeptember 14th, 2010
The New York Daily News has discovered that the New York State Board of Elections has made a quiet decision to credit the votes to the Democratic and Republican Parties, when a voter votes for one candidate twice (once on the ballot line of one of the two major parties, and once on the line of a smaller party). See this story.
The story does not explain what the State Board of Elections will do in the case of a candidate who has the nomination of two parties other than the Democratic and Republican Parties. For example, there have been candidates in the past who had the nomination of both the Conservative Party and the Right to Life Party, but not the Republican nor Democratic Parties. Nor does the story explain what will be done in the case of a candidate who has the nomination of both the Democratic and Republican Parties. There are always many candidates for Justice of the Supreme Court who have the nomination of both major parties.
This problem did not generally arise in the past in New York state, because in the past New York state used mechanical voting machines, and the machine physically prevented a voter from voting twice for the same candidate, on two different party lines. But not all votes in New York state in the past were cast on mechanical voting machines (for example, mail ballots were used for certain absentee voters), so there must be a New York state precedent for this problem.
Vermont, a fusion state, was frustrated by voters who cast a vote for one candidate on two different party lines. Vermont found that up to 3% of the voters sometimes voted this way. Vermont’s response was to eliminate separate lines on the ballot for fusion candidates, which meant that there would only be one empty square for the voter to mark an “X” for any particular candidate. This is sometimes called aggregated fusion. Other states that use aggregated fusion, to avoid the problem, are California, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. Thanks to Rob Richie for the link.