Federal Court Upholds South Carolina’s Method of Restricting Fusion

from Ballot Access News / August 12th, 2009
Federal Court Upholds South Carolina’s Method of Restricting Fusion

On August 12, U.S. District Court Judge Cameron McGowan Currie, a Clinton appointee, upheld South Carolina election laws that permit fusion, but which also say that if someone gets the nomination of one party first, and later tries to get the nomination of a second party and fails, then the first nomination is voided. South Carolina Green Party v South Carolina State Election Commission, 3:08-cv-02790.

The plaintiff-candidate, Eugene Platt, had been nominated first for a legislative seat in 2008 by the Green Party. Then he tried to win the Democratic primary for the same seat, but he lost, so the state wouldn’t let him appear on the November ballot as the Green Party nominee. The decision says the burden on the Green Party was not severe, since the state would have let it choose another nominee. Here is the decision.

6 thoughts on “Federal Court Upholds South Carolina’s Method of Restricting Fusion

  1. Jeremy Young

    The only problem with this law is that it ought to allow the first party to renominate the original candidate. Otherwise, it’s a fine law.

    As an example, in the New York fusion election for the seat in NY-23 last cycle, the presumptive Democratic nominee, Jon Powers, was co-nominated by the Working Families Party. However, Powers was then so bloodied by a second candidate that he lost the Democratic nomination to a third candidate, Alice Kryzan.

    Obviously, Powers wanted to drop out and have Kryzan nominated on the WFP line. However, New York law wouldn’t let the WFP dump Powers even though both parties wanted that to happen. In order to get off the WFP ballot line, Powers actually had to move out of state and become ineligible to serve.

    That’s a problem, and it’s what this South Carolina law attempts to solve. However, the SC law creates an unfair burden for candidates who originate in a third party and want to pursue an additional major-party ballot line. If an LP candidate wants to also run as a Republican, he risks getting tossed from the ballot entirely if he fails to get the GOP nomination.

    So essentially, the SC law helps major-party candidates secure minor-party ballot lines, but discriminates against minor-party candidates who want major-party ballot lines. It needs to be changed.

  2. Bryan

    This law sucks…this decision sucks ass….

    I was at the GP convention that nominated Mr. Platt, and was one of the people who voted for him to represent us. I was only concerned with getting the nominee that would represent me…not the Working Family or democratic parties. This law, and this decision made it impossible for someone I felt would do a good job from even having his name on the ballot.

    After doing research on the subject, I admit that I was doubtful that “third” parties would see a positive outcome….At the same time I still believe that South Carolina has one of the better access laws in our country.

    I guess my only concern is that we need to define our fusion voting (it is not a statute but rather a freedom which comes from interpretations that are not prohibited), and revisit the “sore loser” law…if a candidate is nominated, and on the ballot for one Party, he/she should not be allowed to be kicked off the ballot because of a later convention or primary loss.

    I do wonder….If the Dem candidate had lost the vote in a challenged race at the Green convention…would they have been removed from the ballot????

  3. Jeremy Young

    That’s an excellent point — this is supposed to be a sore loser law. But there’s got to be a way to allow fusion candidacies that doesn’t require giving sore losers a second chance.

    According to the law, the Dem candidate would be forced to follow the same rules.

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