Third Party & Independents Archives

Victories on Ballot Access

To a libertarian, the amount of effort that the two entrenched major political parties have put into keeping “third parties” off the ballot is truly encouraging. I mean, they wouldn’t bother keeping us off the ballot unless we were popular enough to be a threat, right? Well, I hope that is the case, because some of those onerous ballot access measures are coming down, and it may be time for third parties and independent candidates to show what we are made of.

Last week, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled that the state of Illinois has to fix its ballot access laws. Illinois has been subjecting independent candidates to unconstitutional requirements that have been overly discriminatory. To quote the text of the decision,

In combination, the ballot access requirements for independent legislative candidates in Illinois--the early filing deadline, the 10% signature requirement, and the additional statutory restriction that disqualifies anyone who signs an independent candidate's nominating petition from voting in the primary--operate to unconstitutionally burden the freedom of political association guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Ballot access barriers this high--they are the most restrictive in the nation and have effectively eliminated independent legislative candidacies from the Illinois political scene for a quarter of a century--are not sustainable based on the state's asserted interest in deterring party splintering, factionalism, and frivolous candidacies.

And a few weeks ago, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled in favor of the Libertarian Party, which claimed that Ohio's electoral system was designed to favor candidates from the two major parties. Duh. As noted at Election Law Blog,

This was the first time a minor party had won a ballot access case in any US Court of Appeals since 1997...The 6th circuit said the combination of the extremely early deadline (364 days before the general election) for a new party to submit its petition, plus the hefty number required (1% of the last vote cast, which was 32,290 in 2004 but is 56,280 this year), was, taken together, unconstitutional. Ohio has had far fewer minor parties on its ballots than any of the other populous states, in the last decade. No party other than the Democratic and Republican Parties has qualified in Ohio in 2002, 2004 or 2006.

Precedent exists. If the state cannot show that ballot access laws are necessary to prevent a demonstrable harm, the courts are prepared to strike those laws down and make it easier for third parties and independents to become a legal option on election day.

Posted by Wulf at September 24, 2006 7:07 AM
Comment #183601

Wow, learn something new every day! I had no idea that my home state of Illinois was so restrictive of 3rd parties. Especially the last two mentioned in the decision. If you sign a petition you can’t vote in a primary? What kind of crap is that? Nice post, Wulf.

Posted by: leatherankh at September 24, 2006 9:23 AM
Comment #183649

“state’s asserted interest in deterring party splintering, factionalism, and frivolous candidacies”

WHY does the state assert an interest in deterring party splintering? Should not the voters be free to move from party to party as their political needs and views shift?

Where in the Constitution are the guarantees for political parties to be free from factionalizing influences?

And who is to determine who is a frivolous candidate? Should that not be a determination made by the voters and not the entrenched political parties in office?

Green Party is winning some battles in this arena too. Bravo! This is also coming about as a result of the burgeoning Independent voter in America whose numebers are rivaling those of either Democrats or Republicans in host of districts around the country.

There is a major shift in America politics taking place and it is an exciting time to be politically aware and involved.

Fine Article topic, Wulf.

I also see Greens, Libertarians and Independents and Reform organizations working together, putting differences aside, to knock down these unfair barriers erected by the Republocrats. This is a very encouraging grass roots movement taking place in districts like N. Florida, Texas, and N. Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, and others.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 24, 2006 3:15 PM
Comment #183685

In Wisconsin, we still a strong tradidtion of third parties.
Bob La Follette ring a bell?
We do have a GOP controlled legislature, at this time, who have made significant efforts to reduce third party participation.
With the current GOP candidate for Governor suing the state due to illegal campaign transferes from a federal account, the negative attention has determined that a major reform of the states ethics and elections board is inevitable. The candidate, Mark Green-R had to divest $38,000 from Tom DeLay’s ARMPAC only after a court forced him to. He is behind by 10 points in most polls taken between March and Sept 16.
Wisconsin is going to retire him.
No longer will it be a partisan appointed board, but a larger board of regular citizens who have never been registered with any party, appointed by a board of state judges. This new board will have broad and legal authority over officials ethical behavior, actions and campaign financing with judicial authority to force legal actions by state attorneys.
So the future looks bright in Wisconsin for fair elections, but November is the last ditch effort of those who support PAC money and have to sue to run for office.
Wisconsin does look at politicians as temp employees.

Posted by: Joe at September 24, 2006 9:04 PM
Comment #183689

Joe, sounds like my kind of state!!!!

Wisconsin will be at the top of my list if moving is in my future. Outstanding, and thank you for this important news and information.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 24, 2006 9:19 PM
Comment #183699

Now if my home state of Georgia will rid itself of outlandish fees to get on the ballot, maybe more smalltime canidates will be able to run here.

Posted by: daniel thomas at September 24, 2006 10:31 PM
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