Local Democrat Disagrees with Schumer, Gillibrand on Fusion Voting

"It actually takes choices away from voters." - Jeremy Zellner

February 06, 2019 - 11:59 pm

NEW YORK (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - New York State Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand were a part of federal politicians that penned a letter to state legislators saying New York should continue its fusion voting system

For those who don't know what electoral fusion means, it's the act of two or more political parties endorsing the same candidate with hopes of pooling more votes for that candidate. 

The senators argue that the current system allows minor parties to play a larger role in statewide politics than they would otherwise, and of course, they argued that better for Democrats.

“It was under those laws, and with the strong support and endorsements from New York’s Working Families Party (WFP) that New York Democrats won three tough Congressional seats as well as picking up a historic eight state Senate seats, winning the largest Senate majority in generations," the letter states.

However, Erie County Democratic Committee Chair, Jeremy Zellner, disagrees with this thought process completely.

"Basically, they'd like the system to remain the same," said Zellner of Gillibrand and Schumer. "It actually takes choices away from the voters."

Zellner argues that if a minor party believes in someone who matches up with that party's values, that's the candidate that should be running.

"I have proposed, and what others have proposed, is to allow others access to the ballot by running on a party line that they believe in," said Zellner. "For instance, you'll notice when you go vote that there's somebody on six different party lines - the same person. That takes away the choice of the public when people just cross-endorse candidates."

He also added that the electoral fusion has created quite the inefficient and confusing process when it comes to election day.

"Our elections in New York State are starting to finally change; we need to be able to make these changes so that our new reforms are more efficient and are easier for us to handle," he said. "It's important for people to understand what's going on here; it's clogging up the ballots, it's confusing voters. A few years back, we had 64 boxes on our voting ballot, 64 boxes for only about 16 or 18 seats."

The letter signed by Schumer and Gillibrand went on to say, "Banning fusion is both substantively misguided and costly for Democrats. It could threaten to put marginal members, who won by just thousands of votes, in jeopardy, and also make it harder to gain more seats in 2020."

But Zellner wonders why there's fear in changing the system.

"No one's trying to take away the voice of a minor party," he said. "They ought to be just fielding their own candidates, and I don't know why they're so afraid to do that."

Hear full audio from Zellner below:

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