Even if New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lost his Democratic primary on Tuesday, he’d still be on the ballot in November — as a candidate for three other parties. That seems unlikely, but it’s not the extent of Cuomo’s ballot issues. If insurgent candidate Tim Wu beats Cuomo’s chosen running mate, former congresswoman Kathy Hochul, Cuomo could actually end up stealing votes in November from none other than himself. Wu, the Columbia law professor who was recently endorsed by the New York Times, would be Cuomo’s Democratic running mate if he wins Tuesday. But several other minor parties in the state have already sided with the Cuomo-Hochul ticket. And while it would seem that these minor parties could simply swap in a Cuomo-Wu ticket, that actually might not be the case, because they all need at least 50,000 votes on their line to automatically be on the ballot in the far-more-exciting 2016 presidential election. Why might Cuomo wind up running against himself? Well, it has everything to do with New York’s long and confusing ballots. Below, we explain.
The practice of allowing candidates to appear multiple times on the same ballot is know as “electoral fusion,” or “cross-endorsing.” It was far more widespread in the 19th century, and minor parties had a moment. In contrast to today, where voters are worried that voting on a third-party line means throwing their vote away, people could choose a winner as AND register their discontent with the major party whose support that candidate relied upon.
But the major parties, who took turns being disadvantaged by faction conglomerates working against them, soon began to outlaw them. Now, fusion voting is only allowed in seven states: Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, New York, Oregon, South Carolina and Vermont.