‘Fusion voting’ links D’s with I’s on state ballots
Oregon’s Independent Party voting might mean endorsements for candidates
By Christian Gaston
July 13, 2010
Bruce Starr and Chuck Riley don’t have much in common.
Starr, the Republican state Sen. from Hillsboro, and Riley, his Democratic challenger in the November election are on opposite sides of the political aisle.
But both are seeking to win in the fall with a little help from their friends.
Their friends in the Independent party.
Note the capital I in independent. These aren’t voters unaffiliated with any party, they’re members of Oregon’s fastest growing political persuasion. But unlike the GOP or the D’s, the I’s have few restrictions on who can get the party’s nomination. Read more ...
“We don't have litmus tests on social issues,” said Sal Peralta, Independent Party secretary. “Our party’s major purpose is encouraging cooperation among the major parties.”
Candidates from all across the political spectrum are trying to cash in, netting the party’s nomination through a novel online voting system. The party is spending about $20,000 to conduct a secure online balloting process on its website, www.indparty.com.
The voting, open to any member of the Independent Party, started July 8 and will run through July 30, when the results will be unlocked from their encrypted online ballot box at 5 p.m.
That’s when the political junkies will get their first taste of the Riley-Starr race, by seeing who the Independent Party, at least, prefers.
Because of what’s called “fusion voting,” candidates for office in Oregon can list up to three party nominations on the ballot.
So if Chuck Riley wins the Independent Party’s nomination, he can list a capital “I” next to his Democratic “D.” That might help Riley pick up the swing voters who are unaffiliated, as well as the Independent Party voters.
“I’m going hard after the independents and building coalitions is part of my campaign as well,” said Shawn Lindsay, the Republican nominee for House District 30, who’s also seeking the nomination of the Independent Party.
Lindsay’s a likely lock for the nomination since his opponent, incumbent David Edwards, dropped out of the race last week and wasn’t seeking the nomination. Edwards was expected to be replaced on the Democratic ticket by Doug Ainge, a teacher at Banks High School, during a nominating convention held Tuesday night.
Minor party turnout
Peralta said even though some nomination races are uncontested, the party’s online-only nomination process has resulted in 20 contested primary races, far more than either the Democratic or Republican parties had in May.
“In a lot of cases it’s going to be a preview of the November race,” Peralta said.
Peralta might be right if a significant number of the party’s 55,000 or so members cast their ballots. But Peralta said the hopeful turnout number is 10 percent, and even 5 percent, or about 2,750 votes, would thrill party leaders.
“If we hit 5 percent we’d be pretty happy,” Peralta said. “Frankly, that would be the largest turnout for a minor party in the state.”
But the ability for anyone to read Independent voters’ decisions for trends might be obscured by an extremely low turnout. Independent Party polling seems to indicate that members have a fiscally conservative bent. And local races like Riley-Starr could rely on a handful of votes.
Copyright 2010 Pamplin Media Group