Friday, November 2, 2007

Ballot Access Issues for the LP Party

I recently traveled to Oklahoma City, to speak at a fundraiser and to participate in other activities in behalf of the Libertarian Party and a coalition supporting reform of the extremely restrictive ballot access process and laws in that state. While Oklahoma is the state most hostile to allowing or granting access to the ballot for third parties, third party candidates, and write-in candidates, the fact is that many states over the years have adopted measures clearly designed to make it as difficult as possible for third parties to gain access to the ballot. This is the result of the virtual monopoly enjoyed by the two traditional, status quo political parties – the Republican and Democratic parties – in our country.

While both major parties talk a good game of “openness” and “choice” in elections, the fact is that neither the Republican nor the Democrat Party practices this in fact. These parties define the terms of ballot access – who and which parties can field candidates to appear on the ballot and give voters true choice – and they control the legal mechanisms whereby the process can be changed to allow greater access. What this means in reality is that any third party seeking to obtain ballot access in many states has to spend a great deal of time and money just working to try and get its name and its candidates on the ballot each election cycle. In Oklahoma, the process is so closed and so restrictive that it is nearly impossible for third parties to succeed. Thus, for example, in the last presidential election in 2004, voters in Oklahoma had two and only two choices for president – George W. Bush or John Kerry. They could not even write in another candidate. This closed system is the antithesis of openness and freedom which should be the hallmark of American elections.

Oklahoma goes so far in its zeal to limit ballot access that those working to ease ballot access fear criminal prosecution for their efforts to simply open up the process. This fear is based on the myriad of rules and requirements petitioners have to comply with simply to reach voters and ask them to support opening up the process.

To find out more about such outrageous, anti-freedom efforts by states to deny voters choices in elections, click here to access the Libertarian Party’s list of states to see if the Libertarian Party has ballot access in your state, To learn more about the effort in Oklahoma, check out this website:

1 comment:

Eric Dondero said...

What's lost in all this discussion particularly by Libertarian Party folks, is the fact that the Democrats are far less supportive of free elections and open access than the Repuiblicans. This is extremely ironic, given the fact that Libertarian candidates most definitely hurt the GOP more than the Dems.

Still, it's the Dems who are against third parties.

Witness the current situation in New Jersey. A televised debate last week on a major network where the State's top LP candidate for State Assembly was excluded. It was the two Republicans running for the State that came to his defense. The Democrat incumbent Assmb. Linda Greenstein failed to defend his right to be included.

In Michigan, it was Republican Leon Drolet a few years ago who pushed through the state legislature a bill drastically lowering ballot access requirements.

In Georgia in the early 1990s, the Libertarian Party cut a backroom deal with the Republican Party to greatly lower ballot access. Both the GOP and the LP benefited greatly from the cooperation.

But of course, all of this is greatly embarrassing to many Libertarian Party partisans. So much so, in fact, that you almost never hear any praise for the GOP efforts to help the LP from LP partisans.

It's just downright politically incorrect, to acknowledge in LP circles that the Republicans are much better at lowering ballot access requirements and restrictions than the Democrats.

Just like it was last year, when we were petitioning nationwide for property rights. It was the Democrats who blocked us, and got our libertarian initiatives thrown off the ballots in states like Missouri and Montana.

Not a word from LP Libertarians criticizing the Dems for doing this. After all, that would ruin the "not a dime's worth of difference..." argument from LP partisans.