What if there were political parties other than Democrat and Republican?
Well, of course, there are. Though minor parties are often underrepresented on our ballots & portrayed as less than credible by mainstream institutions. Meanwhile, less than half of eligible voters in Oregon are identified as either D’s or R’s (47%). So, branching out from beyond the binary, whether that binary is real, imagined or just accepted as the dominant philosophy, is a step toward all folks being both able to fully participate in the system and be adequately represented by the system.
ROP’s mission is to advance democracy in rural Oregon and with this torch we shine a light on the most recent development in our quest toward true democratic governance.
Senate Bill 326 seems to be a two-pronged approach to opening up our electoral arena & engaging more voters in the process. Even though this bill doesn’t take us all the way toward our perfect democracy, it is a modest and respectable step in the right direction. The primary discussion around SB 326 is that it brings a simple form of Fusion Voting on to our ballot.
Governor Kulongoski has not yet committed to sign this bill which would:
1) Allow registered voters who voted in the primary also sign a petition for an independent candidate to get on the ballot for the general election.
2) Allow one candidate to be endorsed by multiple parties and to have those parties listed on the ballot next to the candidate’s name.
True fusion voting looks different than this particular bill, look to New York for a good example of it in practice. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of expanding democracy for rural (& all of) Oregon.
The simplified Fusion Voting portion of this bill means a candidate could be listed as both Republican Party & Constitution Party or any number of the dozen or so formal political parties in Oregon. This gives voters a better sense of where those candidates’ values lie. To paraphrase one clever OBP listener – this helps voters make smart decisions because if both Paul Wellstone and Joe Lieberman once represented the Democratic Party, what exactly is the Democratic Party?
A well-informed electorate is one of the four critical elements of a true democracy; Fusion Voting pushes us further in that direction. Another element is majority rule with minority rights, which is increased with this bill where minority parties are not cast out as spoilers or unduly restrained from access to the general election system.
As with all reform, the existing power structures would like to maintain the status quo. And as social justice activists, we believe that improvements are needed! Don’t let democracy get bogged down by those in the party machines. Please call Governor Kulongoski, 503.378.4582 or email him here, ask him to sign SB 326 and advance democracy for Oregon.
UPDATE ::: As of 7/9/09 Governor Kulongoski has decided to sign SB 326 into law. Good work team!