Should Political Parties have a "right" to the ballot?

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posted on Aug, 15 2005 @ 06:30 AM
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 party.

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.

posted on Aug, 16 2005 @ 08:16 PM
Oh well, it's only the fate of democracy. Why should anyone have anything to say about, right? Come on guys, are you all a bunch of well-whipped party loyalists? I promise, Tom Delay isn't reading this, you can speak your mind.

posted on Aug, 17 2005 @ 02:44 PM
Great post there

Followed the link from your signature and this is my maiden post in PTS

How could you go about changing the system though? Could you lobby a congressman to introduce an American equivalent of a 'private members bill'?

It also doesnt help when so many millions of voters as completely apathetic and disengaged with the political process any way. Its a major catch-22. Hardly any citizens care enough to change the system because they cant vote in who they want to.

posted on Aug, 17 2005 @ 03:40 PM
Bringing change is likely to be no simple matter, but I plan to pursue a career in Califoriia politics and one of my primary ambitions is to open up the ballot by standardizing the number of signitures needed at a reasonably low number.

The challenge that I will face, as would virtually anyone who tried to take on the party oligopoly, is that they're big and I'm small. I don't have a voting block and they dont need me.

As far as I can tell, there's only one way to stand up against the party machinery- you have to command the respect of the people. You've got to be very smart, very charismatic, and very widely known for both. If you meet those criteria, you can be a loose cannon and get away with it. The goal is basically to shame and terrorize your own side of the aisle constantly until you have forced them to adopt key parts of your agenda in exchance for your silence and loyalty.

posted on Aug, 21 2005 @ 12:26 AM
Welcome To The Party

Originally posted by The Vagabond
The goal is basically to shame and terrorize your own side of the aisle constantly until you have forced them to adopt key parts of your agenda in exchance for your silence and loyalty.

That's basically what parties do.

Ironically enough, the incumbent parties got to be that way by doing pretty much the same thing you're proposing.

Not to sound cynical, but that really doesn't result in a significant change of affairs.

That is, in fact, the way the system was meant to operate, and pretty much already does.

As for signature counts, those who lack enough signatures to get on the ballot rarely have enough public support to win an election anyway, so it's largely a symbolic complaint.

The key to victory is to gain support before, not during, the election.

Do that, and it won't matter how many candidates in rainbow wigs carrying John 3:16 signs run against you, you'll win anyway.

Fail to do that, and you might as well save yourself the pain and expense of trying, because without strong public support up front, your chances of winning are virtually nil -- as well they should be.

Unpopular people shouldn't be elected. There's something inherently wrong with that concept.

posted on Aug, 21 2005 @ 01:17 AM

Originally posted by Majic
That's basically what parties do.

That is the nature of politics. One can not expect to just waltz into office and do everything like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and succeed. The differenece here is that the parties play hardball to suit their own causes. My chief objective in playing hardball is to topple the stalemated two party system and and get somewhat away from harball and more towards the compromise and concensus building which becomes necessary in trilateral and higher politics.

Think of it as using the current voting system to vote in a new voting system.

As for signature counts, those who lack enough signatures to get on the ballot rarely have enough public support to win an election anyway, so it's largely a symbolic complaint.

Nonsense in my opinion. If the candidates of the two major parties had to meet the standards that independents did, we would often see elections where one or both of the major parties was not represented. It is not simply that others should be allowed to run, but that Republicans and Democrats are granted a special right to run which they have no claim to.

The system needs to be uniform. My gut reaction is to lower the signiture count (which is ten times higher for independents than for the parties) but requiring the Republicans and Democrats to meet the same high standards as the independents would be just as well.

I feel like my main point may have somehow become secondary to my discussion of tactics. What I consider paramount is that Americans deserve a broader range of choices for a more responsive government.

posted on Aug, 21 2005 @ 01:25 AM
Well the quicker answer that I think is that they must have the access and we need to do something.

I find myself likening some democrats and some republicans but am beginning to dislike both parties.

I would maybe have voted third party in 04, but I didn't want to be caught in situation in which my protest vote did nt count when it could have. That happened to me in 1992 when I thought BC couldn't win, and I was pissed off big time at daddy B for his "No New Taxes" I voted Nixon.

But in 2004, there was to much at stake......

posted on Aug, 21 2005 @ 01:19 PM
I think one of the problems with the third parties is that they have wasted money on presidential runs when they weren't ready for it. I believe the key to opening up the big game is to concentrate on state legislatures. They may the election laws afterall.
More importantly, you need to get people used to voting for independents and third parties. Ralph Nader can't just reappear from the history books, when most of us probably assumed he was dead until he started running, and win.

If I wanted to build a third party and open up the system (which I do) I'd be making friends from every ideology, just as long as they shared the belief that broader choice was good for America, and I'd encourage them to run in whatever place they might have the best chance of winning. I think the key is that a coalition of people with different ideas but an underlying belief in open democracy to form an anti-party which can grow over time, work to even the odds, and above all just get the people used to the idea of having a third and fourth option that really has a chance of succeeding.

Since I'm getting fairly passionate about something that if successful would be a huge threat to certain people in power, I'd like to propose an ATS contest. 1,000,000,000 posthumous points to the first ATSer assassinated for political reasons.

posted on Sep, 12 2005 @ 03:30 PM
Forcing third parties to have to have petitions to even get on the ballot is unconstitutional.

There are only three requirements one has to meet to run for President:

a) Born in USA
b) At least 35 years old
c) Resident of USA for at least 14 years.

Nothing in there that says you have a free pass to the ballot if you belong to a "major" party.

posted on Sep, 13 2005 @ 09:49 PM
Actually those aren't the requirements to run for president. Those are the requirements to BE president. The government didn't control ballots at the time of the constitution's drafting, and therefore the lack of constitutional guidance on the issue is arguably peripheral if not irrelevant. Ballots and the setting of conditions for access could be argued for and probably upheld in the SCOTUS under the necessary and proper clause. However the equal protection under the law could be broadly interpreted as ensuring equal application of legal restrictions between people under analogous circumstances.

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