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Strange Bedfellows: SPIA in NJ Event to Explore Ways to Revive Faith in New Jersey’s Democratic Institutions

Nov 02 2023
By Tom Durso
Source Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

Experts from across the political spectrum will convene at Princeton University on November 15 to discuss restoring New Jersey voters’ faith in their democratic institutions.

“Fusion Voting: Restoring Real Choice at the Ballot” will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Hobart Betts Auditorium. The event is being hosted by the School of Public and International Affairs’ SPIA in New Jersey Initiative, with the Bridging Divides Initiative as a co-sponsor. Pre-registration is encouraged.

Studies show most Garden State voters do not believe that their government is rising to the serious challenges of today, that elected officials represent their interests or are responsive to their concerns, or that the two-party system is effective. The conversations and panels planned for November 15 will highlight steps New Jersey can take to revivify confidence in politics.

Rules governing whether and how candidates and parties appear on the ballot play an important, if underappreciated, role in the health and resilience of democracy. Courts in New Jersey are currently considering the constitutionality of several long-standing ballot restrictions, such as the century-old ban on “fusion voting,” in which multiple parties can nominate the same candidate. As The New York Times noted last year, “Proponents say [fusion voting] allows voters who don’t feel comfortable with either major party to express their preferences without ‘wasting’ votes on candidates with no hope of winning.”

Attendees will hear remarks from:

  • Ana María Archila, activist, 2022 candidate for lieutenant governor of New York, and co-director of the New York Working Families Party
  • Ron Chen, associate dean for academic affairs at Rutgers Law School and former Public Advocate of New Jersey
  • John Farmer, Jr., director of the Miller Center at Rutgers, former New Jersey attorney general, and visiting faculty at SPIA
  • Bill Kristol, writer, commentator, and editor-at-large at The Bulwark
  • Tom Malinowski, former U.S. Representative from New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District
  • Nedia Morsy, SPIA in New Jersey Policy Fellow and director of strategic projects at Make the Road New Jersey
  • Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey

“Advocates and scholars across the partisan spectrum contend that re-legalizing fusion voting in New Jersey would make elections more representative, temper hyper-polarization, and facilitate cross-party coalitions, among other salutary effects,” said Anastasia Mann, the founding director of SPIA in New Jersey. “On November 15, we will explore these claims, examine the history of fusion, and learn about other important ballot rules currently before the courts.”