Before I go off on a rant, I thought I'd ask you all what you feel about the information below. How do you feel about our ballot access system which
stifles 3rd party candidates and keeps two stagnant parties in control. What would you do to give yourself more choice at the polls?
Few people would be likely to dispute that there simply isn't much of a choice to make at the ballot box in America, especially when it comes to
races where there are very few seats being filled for a large area (Senate, Governor, President).
You've basically got two choices- the Republican or the Democrat, and that's not much of a choice for the average voter, because the two are polar
opposites on many issues. If you believe in Abortion rights, Gay Marriage, Gun Control, and Fiscal Conservatism, you are up a creek without a paddle,
because the majority of the things most precious to you personally are embraced by a party which generally does not stand for the economic strategy
which you view as being best for America. Your only hope is to find somebody who fits your views in the primaries, where you have a broader selection,
but everyone in the primary for your party is a member of your party, and is restricted as such if he wants to remain in good standing with his
If it's been a while since government class (or even otherwise, considering the state of public education) you may wonder exactly what gives the two
major parties their right to be on the ballot, while other ideologies must struggle just to get on the ballot in a hand full of states, and have no
real chance of winning.
This started in the 1880s when the secret ballot was introduced. Before then, it was common for parties to distribute tickets which were simply
dropped into the ballot box by registered voters. Obviously this made fraud a huge problem, since there were more available ballots than voters. When
the design of ballots came under the control of state legislatures though, the party which controlled a states legislature gained the ability to
dictate the criteria for ballot access as was most advantageous to them. They could shut out competition if serious competition existed (usually by
requiring huge signature drives just to get on the ballot) or they could loosen the requirements if there competition to their opponents was more
prevalent in the third parties.
Of course the parties exempted themselves from such signature drives. Typically if you were on the ballot last time, you will be on it next time, and
hence the two major parties have never actually had to compete for ballot access.
Since then, only a handfull of candidates have managed to get themselves onto every presidential ballot in America. In fact the only two that I can
name are Socialist candidate Eugene Debbs in 1912 and Ross Perot in 1996. As of 1994, to get onto every congressional ballot in America, a third party
would have needed 1.5 million signitures, whereas less than a tenth of that would be required to get any given candidate into the primaries for an
established party. www.ballot-access.org...