Why Is This Candidate Listed Twice? The Behavioral and Electoral Consequences of Fusion Voting

Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy








Ballot fusion is an electoral device used in some states that permits multiple parties to endorse the same candidate for public office. The practice is at the center of a fierce policy debate concerning the legality and efficacy of ballot design: critics say fusion allows minor parties to hijack mainstream parties and complicates the voting process; advocates say fusion reduces the potential for wasted votes and increases democratic efficacy in the electorate. Participants in this policy debate all cite the welfare of the voting public in defending their views, yet claims on both sides are based on assumptions that may or may not stand up to empirical scrutiny. In this article, we fill a void in the literature by exploring whether, and to what extent, fusion voting impacts voters' perceptions, decisions, and overall voting experience. We develop a survey experiment in which individuals make electoral choices under a series of ballot designs, enabling us to evaluate counterfactuals concerning ballot fusion for the first time: how do individuals evaluating a ballot with fusion behave relative to voters who evaluate the same ballot without it? The results have important implications for electoral policy makers: ballot fusion has little impact on feelings of democratic efficacy and voting behavior, though it can compel some individuals to update their perceptions about political parties under certain circumstances.


© 2022, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. publishers.

Free Access.


0000-0002-9871-476X (Melusky)

Original Publication Citation

Loepp, E., & Melusky, B. (2022). Why is this candidate listed twice? The behavioral and electoral consequences of fusion voting. Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy, 21(2),105-123. https://doi.org/10.1089/elj.2021.0037