(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.
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.
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.
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.