New Jersey Lawsuit to Bring Back Fusion Voting
Fusion was once legal in every state, and it was the cornerstone of the multi-party democracy that characterized America in the 19th century. The Center has been collaborating closely with citizens in New Jersey – Republicans, Democrats, and independents – who wish to see the ban on fusion repealed in the Garden State so that new parties are allowed to form and thrive.
The Moderate Party of New Jersey formed in the Spring of 2022. Well aware that no third-party candidate has won an election in the state since fusion was banned, the party quickly settled on cross-nominating or “fusing” on a major party candidate as a better strategy. The Moderates evaluated the records of the major party candidates already on the ballot in their district, and decided to nominate the candidate who best-reflected their commitments to common-sense problem solving, cooperation, and the rule of law.
“Acting alone [without fusion], with a ballot that forces us to associate with one of two major parties if we want to cast a meaningful vote, none of us can hope to change our policies, politics, or politicians. Yet, acting together [with fusion], joined under a moderate column on the ballot, who knows the limits of what voters like me could accomplish.”
– Michael Tomasco, appellant in Moderate Party v. Way (New Jersey)
In the spring of 2022, the Moderate Party endorsed incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski for New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District and submitted nominating petitions to the New Jersey Secretary of State, seeking to allow Rep. Malinowski to appear twice on the general election ballot on both the Moderate Party and Democratic Party lines. The New Jersey Secretary of State rejected the nominating petition given the state’s ban on such dual nominations – fusion voting was outlawed in New Jersey in the 1920s as major parties sought to stamp out competition and consolidate power.
The Moderate Party is now pursuing the reinstatement of fusion voting through the state’s legal system. On July 20, 2022, the Moderate Party and three current/former Republican voters in the state filed a lawsuit in the New Jersey state appeals court challenging the legality of the state’s ban on fusion voting. The lawsuit argues that the ban on fusion voting violates the state’s constitution, including the right to vote, free speech, assembly, association, right of suffrage, and equal protection.
“State laws that deny me and other voters who identify with moderate or centrist politics the opportunity to vote for a candidate of our choice running on a party line that we support, denies us the opportunity to use the ballot box to both vote for the candidate of our choice and at the same time convey an important political message.”
– Richard Wolfe, appellant in Moderate Party v. Way (New Jersey)
If the lawsuit is successful, it will reinstate fusion voting in New Jersey, give voters more choices at the ballot box, and set a precedent nationwide for how voters can use the legal system to pursue fusion voting as an antidote to hyper-partisan polarization.
“For those looking for a way to give moderate Republicans and independents a safe harbor from MAGA radicals and to encourage less extreme nominees from both parties, any success from the Moderate Party could point the way toward saner, more functional politics.”
– The Washington Post: Opinion: Could a new political party defang radical politicians?
Read more about the lawsuit for fusion voting in New Jersey here:
- The New York Times: Does Fusion Voting Offer Americans a Way Out of the Partisan Morass?
- The New York Times: New Jersey Centrists Seek to Legalize Their Dream: The Moderate Party
- The Washington Post: Opinion: Could a new political party defang radical politicians?
- The New York Times: A Viable Third Party Is Coming, and It’s Starting With a New Jersey Lawsuit
- The Record: I’m suing NJ to fix election laws. Why? We need fusion voting | Opinion
- New Jersey Monitor: What is fusion voting and why do some want to revive it in New Jersey?
- Appellants Reply Brief July 10, 2023
- Amicus Brief – ACLU of NJ (Prof. Robert Williams, Prof. Ronald Chen) August 25, 2023
- Amicus Brief – Prof. Tabatha Abu El-Haj (Wachtell Lipton) August 25, 2023
- Amicus Brief – Gov. Whitman, Rainey Center, and Cato Institute (Kirkland & Ellis; Gibbons Law) August 25, 2023
- Amicus Brief – Political Scientists Masket, McCarthy, and Noel (Anselmi & Carvelli) August 24, 2023
- Amicus Brief – NJ Libertarian Party (Pashman Stein) September 21, 2023
- Amicus Brief – Bipartisan Former Members of Congress (WilmerHale) August 24, 2023
- Amicus Brief – Historians Argersinger, et al. (Stroock & Stroock) August 25, 2023
- Amicus Brief – Brennan Center for Justice (Morrison & Foerster) August 25, 2023
- Intervenor Opposition Brief June 12, 2023
- Respondents Opposition Brief June 12, 2023
- Appellate Division Order Denying Motions to Dismiss, Transfer, or Strike May 2, 2023
- Appellants Opening Brief Dec. 16, 2022
- Appellants Appendix Volume I Dec. 16, 2022
- Appellants Appendix Volume II Dec. 16, 2022
- Appellants Appendix Volume III Dec. 16, 2022