Author's posts

Electoral reform: getting past first-past-the-post

NOTE: The following diary is adapted from a series of articles that were posted last week on my blog. Links to these articles are provided at the end of this diary.

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Recently, I discussed the need for two fundamental electoral reforms that I believe are needed in order to lay the groundwork for a more open and truly representative multi-party system: ballot access reform, to make it easier and fairer for minor parties and independent candidates to both get on the ballot and stay on the ballot in successive elections; and electoral fusion, to make it easier for voters who have grown accustomed to having to choose between two monolithic parties to transition over to a multiparty system by giving them the option of supporting minor parties that cross-endorse major-party candidates. While I believe that these two elements of reform are essential and should be given first priority for tactical reasons, I nonetheless acknowledge that they are only components within a broader reform program, and that by themselves they probably won’t be enough to bring about the change we need to open up American politics. Ultimately, we will also need to address basic deficiencies in the way that votes are cast and counted.

Fusion balloting: creating more and better choices for American voters

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is an article that was originally posted on my blog a few days ago. I’m posting it here at DD as a followup to my previous diary about the need for ballot access reform.


A few days ago, I discussed the need for ballot access reform as a crucial first step in opening up the American political system and removing the shackles placed upon it by the Republican and Democratic parties. Today, I’d like to discuss another equally important element of political reform which I believe is a necessary co-requisite to ballot access liberalization: electoral fusion.

Fusion balloting, which is also referred to as cross-endorsement or open ballot voting, refers to the practice of allowing multiple political parties to nominate the same candidate for the same office. This cross-endorsement can open up several possibilities for minor parties operating within the constraints of a political system like ours here in America, in which two parties are dominant: these minor parties might, for example, choose to cross-endorse candidates nominated by one of the two major parties, or to cross-nominate each other’s candidates, or to run their own candidates without any cross-endorsements, depending on what their political and strategic priorities are. At present, fusion balloting doesn’t affect most voters because it’s only allowed in eight states: Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, New York, Oregon South Carolina, and Vermont.

Ballot access reform: the first step in fixing America’s broken political system

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is an article that was originally posted on my blog a few days ago. I’m reposting it here as a self-introduction of sorts for those of you who I haven’t ran into over at Daily Kos, as well as an invitation to participate in what I hope will be an ongoing dialogue about the general need for political reform.

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Over the last few decades or so, America has gradually trended toward the kind of stagnation that has laid low great empires throughout history. This is reflected in the gradual erosion of the American middle class and the increasing stratification of wealth within our country over the last few decades, as our elected leaders have prioritized the interests of concentrated wealth and the handful of individuals who control it over the interests of the people. The stagnation in which we are currently mired is a function of the death grip on political power maintained by the Republican and Democratic parties, who have been allowed to game the political system to their advantage to an extent not seen in any other democracy. As I have stated elsewhere, I believe that if we are to steer this country away from disaster we must first clear the path for economic and social reform by achieving fundamental systemic changes to break the two-party duopoly and replace it with an open multiparty democracy. One of the first, and certainly one of the most important, elements in that systemic reform must be the liberalization of ballot access laws at the federal and state level.