New York is one of a handful of states that allows fusion voting — more than one party can nominate the same person for office. A Wilson-Pakula is an authorization given by a political party to a candidate for public office in NYS for a person not registered with that party to run as its candidate.
Fusion voting is familiar to NYS voters. Most recognize that when a candidate appears more than once on a ballot in NYS, all votes cast for that candidate are added into that person’s total. This gives NYS voters a chance to send a message about their political leanings by registering with a minor party, voting on that party line, and still casting a vote for another party candidate. Often in NYS, minor party votes make the difference in elections, so if for example Conservative Party voters make the difference in electing a Republican, Conservative Party politics may influence Republican Party policies accordingly. Without fusion voting, voters choosing to vote for a minor party candidate would often act as spoilers, denying a viable candidate their vote.
The Brennan Center document cited contains much interesting information about fusion voting.
The Wilson Pakula Act of 1947 forbids candidates from receiving the nomination of a political party if they are not registered as a member of that party, unless they receive permission to enter the primary from party officials.
Voting laws in the states are set by state legislatures, thus the party controlling the state government may adopt laws that are to their advantage. Fusion voting in Connecticut is currently under attack. In NY, Gov. Cuomo has expressed dislike for fusion voting; he has suggested repealing the Wilson-Pakula law so that a candidate would no longer need to be registered with that party or need permission to run on any party line. This is discussed in the “one-candidate” NY Times article cited.
© William Hungerford – January 2014