Who or what is Wilson-Pakula?

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




About whungerford

* Contributor at NewNY23rd.com where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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3 Responses to Who or what is Wilson-Pakula?

  1. whungerford says:

    A dissenting view on fusion voting: “Historically it was useful,” said Jim Twombly, an associate professor of political science at Elmira College. “But the reality is that fusion voting as it’s used in New York is for the trading of political favors.” — quoted in the “One candidate” article cited.


  2. Deb Meeker says:

    What would happen then if in fact, a combination of say Jon Huntsman (R), and Joe Manchin (D) tried to be a President/ Vice President combination? Would their candidacies be invalid?


  3. whungerford says:

    Good question — I have no idea. Ballot access should be no problem in NYS. At the most, the Democrat might need a Wilson-Pakula to run on the Republican ticket.


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