The state Democratic Party today voted in favor of a resolution calling for an end to so-called “fusion” voting, striking the first blow against minor parties in New York that could eventually lead – should the Legislature heed this call – to a significant change in the state’s political landscape.

State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs, who was confirmed today to return to that post, said the vote in favor of the ban was “overwhelming,” though, in a strange twist, the party’s progressive caucus, which initially put the resolution forward, voted earlier in the day to table it.

“They started to get a lot of pressure from the (Working Families Party) and certain members looked to table it because they thought it would be a tight vote, and so we should wait until the state committee has electronic weighted voting, which we are preparing to do in September,” Jacobs said.

According to Jacobs, the motion to table in the progressive caucus initially failed, and then subsequently passed by one or two votes. The executive committee, however, decided to move forward with the vote, and that vote eventually took place after everyone who was interested in debating on the matter was allowed to have their say.

Because the party does not yet have an electronic voting system in place, Jacobs said he decided to run the vote as follows: He asked everyone who was in favor of the fusion voting ban to more to one side the the room and hold up their proxies, while those against it were asked to do to the other side of the room and do the same.

There were about 35 or 40 people on the “opposed” side, and some 150 on the “in favor” side, Jacobs said. The proxies on the “in favor” side also vastly outnumbered those on the other side, he recalled.

“I wanted a true outcome, and in my conversations with everyone I said, ‘Let’s not play games and waste the body’s time,'” Jacobs said. “Everyone was respectful and considerate, and I think everybody – win or lose – had a good feeling about the process.”

The resolution passed by the party is non-binding. Only the state Legislature can pass a bill that would end the practice of fusion voting, which allows cross endorsements of candidates by parties of which they are not officially members – something allowed in just a handful of states.

Jacobs said there is no bill currently pending to end fusion voting, to his knowledge, but he believes the Senate and Assembly should heed the recommendation of the state Democratic Party.

“They are the governmental arm, and we are the political arm,” he said. “They have to make the law, and the political arm has to give them their impression and their view, and that’s what we did.”

“They should take seriously the recommendation of this body,” Jacobs continued. “They have to understand that the view of this body is there are a lot of reforms and improvements that need to be made regarding the minor parties. It’s a serious problem. And the voices you heard in today’s debate made clear that county chairs with competitive races – not Manhattan, where you can’t find a Republican if you search around for three days – places where there are really competitive races…those committee people were very clear that they would do far better without fusion voting than with it.”

Jacobs said that Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner pointed out during the meeting that last year there were only eight circumstances in which minor party lines gave a victory to a legislative candidates – five Senate seats, and three Assembly seats. In every one of them, according to Zellner (as cited by Jacobs), the Republican candidate won – something the state chairman called an “important and compelling piece of information.”

As we have been reporting, the Working Families Party had been pushing to have today’s vote derailed, and also accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of behind behind it in an effort to retaliate against the WFP for backing his failed primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon, in the 2018 Democratic primary.

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi earlier today insisted to me that a fusion voting ban is not something the administration has given serious thought to, and emailed the following statement:

“I know they were humiliated in last year’s governor’s race, but that’s no excuse to ‎run around spreading lies and ranting about conspiracies. It’s both sad and a bad look.”