Alliance for Democracy

Fusion Voting



Campaign Finance Reform | Fusion Voting | Instant Runoff Voting |National Popular Vote

Current Status of Fusion Voting in Oregon…More

Fusion Voting is an old and time honored system used throughout the United States in the late 1800’s and early 1900s. Fusion voting allowed some of the most progressive political leaders in America to be elected to public office because the Populist Party and Democratic Parties were able to “fuse” their nominations. Under fusion voting more than one political party can nominate the same candidate for the same office in any particular election. Therefore, a voter could, for instance, vote for Joe Solidarity for governor as either a Populist or as a Democrat as both parties are able to nominate the same candidate. Joe Solidarity’s name could appear on the ballot twice for the same office, once as a Populist and then again as a Democrat.

This is what the ballot would have looked like:

Jack Bigbucks Republican
Joe Solidarity Populist
Sam Poor Socialist
Betsy Lost Independent
Joe Solidarity Democrat

The voter would mark one choice for each office just as the voter does now.

In this example the voter could vote for Joe Solidarity as either a Democrat or a Populist. The voter in effect chooses both the candidate and the party. First the voter chooses the candidate to vote for. Then the voter looks to see if that candidate is on the ballot for more than one party and, if so, chooses which party to vote for. In choosing the party, the voter declares his support for the principles of that party. The votes are tallied separately for each party, and Joe Solidarity gets the combined total votes from both ballot lines. If the race was especially close, the winner could see that without the votes cast on the “third Party” line, he might not have won. Third parties thus have leverage over that candidate.

In 1896 the Republicans swept to power and that spelled doom for fusion voting. In state after state, fusion voting was either banned or laws passed which in effect banned it. This same Republican sweep also resulted in the passage of the Jim Crow laws effectively eliminating the right to vote for the African-American people. Only in a few states in which the Democrats remained powerful was Fusion Voting retained.


If you want to vote for a set of values and issues, want candidates to know you support those things, and don’t want your vote to mean the candidate you least like wins, then you should support fusion. Fusion gives people an option to support a party that reflects their values without “spoiling” a race. That means that your values are much more obvious to the elected officials, and they must take note.

Fusion voting does still remain in seven states including New York. In New York, 5 parties participate in elections and use the fusion voting method to elect candidates. From the populist perspective, the Working Families Party of New York has been especially effective at moving elections away from being personality contests and focusing elections on issues – issues like out sourcing of jobs, lack of corporate tax payments, universal healthcare and living wages.

Added benefits from fusion voting include:

  • ending the spoiler effect of third party candidates
  • activating non-committed voters who don’t see a difference between Democratic and Republican candidates
  • refocusing election contests from being personality contests to being contests between issues and values

Fusion Voting

  • does not cost anything
  • increases the democratic processes
  • allows voters to cast honest votes
  • ends voting for the lesser of two evils
  • increases power of third parties


More information on Fusion Voting and the Working Families Party

In Oregon:, the official site of the Oregon Working Families Party

Professor helps form political party Affordable education and universal health care are top issues for the Working Families Party

In the nation:

Power of Fusion Politics, the Nation magazine article

The New Majority Fund

History of Fusion from the late 1800’s forward

The Little Political Party That’s Shaping Big Agendas


Newspaper articles

Statesman Journal 2-14-06

San Francisco Choncle 3-15-06 Fusion’s Third Party Path to the Center

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