House bill (3087) to stop fusion voting awaiting Senate action

The practice of fusion voting has been of concern to some of those responsible for watching and conducting elections in South Carolina, one of the few states where the practice remains legal.  House Bill 3067, sponsored by Alan Clemmons, seeks to challenge this.

The bill sailed through the House and is now waiting in the Senate, waiting on action from a Senate Judiciary subcommittee chaired by Sen. Chip Campsen (R-Mount Pleasant). Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown) and John Scott (D-Richland) are also on the subcommittee.

Since we here in the Blogland are all about long-winded dissertations, we’ll share with our readers a little background on this issue.
Jay Ragley, who worked for the S.C. Republican Party explains fusion candidates as those who have

(B)een nominated by at least two political parties that have been certified by the South Carolina State Election Commission. There are currently nine certified political parties in South Carolina, with the Republican and Democratic Parties being the two most familiar. Other political parties include the Constitution, Green, Independence , Labor, Libertarian, United Citizens and Working Families. For example, my one experience with a fusion candidate was someone who filed with the Republican Party for a congressional seat and was later nominated by the Constitution Party for the same office. Candidates who campaigned as Democrats have at times also been nominated by the United Citizens or Working Families parties. Candidates that campaign with two or more political party nominations have all their votes combined in the election.
Rep. Garry Smith (R-Simpsonville) pointed out that fusion voting is on the decline in usage nationally:

The US Supreme Court in Timmons v. Twin Cities New Party, said that fusion voting was not a civil right. Since that time all but 8 states have eliminated the practice, which, allows a candidate to get an advantage over their opponents by having their names appear multiple times on the ballot.
Ragley points out the use of this tactic has been waning here in South Carolina, and is primarily a tactic for candidiates who are likely to lose:

For the past three election cycles, I’ve had the responsibility for providing due diligence over candidate filing process for the South Carolina Republican Party. Working in conjunction with county parties, I’ve handled well over 1,200 candidate filings. During that entire time I can recall only a single instance when a candidate, and a perennial candidate at that, filed as a Republican and as a candidate for a third party. Fusion candidates are rare in the Democratic Party, and almost extinct in the Republican Party.
Ragley also expressed concerns about the practicality of fusion voting and its potential to confuse voters:

South Carolina elects a lot of offices. We elect nine statewide offices, many countywide offices including probate judges and clerks of courts, and fire, water and sewer commissioners. After a while, all these offices eventually lead to a ballot that carries on for several pages. Adding to the length of the ballot is the requirement that each candidate nominated by a political party be listed separately for each office. So a candidate that has two or three nominations is listed two or three times on the ballot, while their opponents may be listed only once.

Many voters want to enter the voting booth, make their choices quickly and move on with their daily routine. They don’t enjoy long lines waiting to vote, nor the lengthy ballots. Fusion candidates usually have the designation of Republican or Democratic in addition to their third party nomination. This adds to the length of the ballot and may encourage voters to make rushed decisions simply because they want to get to a race of great interest to them or simply need to get back to work because they’re on their lunch break.
Anyone who knows how things are in Columbia knows there are often a gazillion things to do than time to get them done, which means that if a particular bill doesn't generate a lot of interest, it's not likely going to get on the agenda.

Which is why we're asking Blogland readers to express their support for this bill to the Senators on this subcommittee and/or their own Senators.

4 Response to "House bill (3087) to stop fusion voting awaiting Senate action"

  1. west_rhino 1/2/10 10:17
    Needs salt... also needs a candidates option to refuse being placed on the ballot by a second party... which, if the issue passes could lead to some monkey business in a few races.

    What Would a Rod Shealy or Lee Atwater Do? (with an ability to dilute a candidates general election votes)
  2. Anonymous 1/2/10 13:46
    Sic Willie said this was a poor site, but I think it's great, and it looks even better since you revamped it. Keep up the good work!
  3. Anonymous 1/2/10 13:53
    1346 is stupid. This site SUCKS!!!
  4. Anonymous 2/2/10 10:36
    It sucks in a nice way Earl. OTOH, Sic still needs to have that chipped tooth fixed.

Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

To post a comment without having a Blogger account, select "Name/URL", put your name in, but leave the URL line blank. Email me if you'd like to comment, but need help making it work.