04 December 2009

Ballot Access Restrictions Suppress Your Freedom

Via Poli-Tea, the Harvard Law Record: The two party ballot suppresses third party change. Some excerpts below, the entire article is worth reading if you are interested in the burdens places on any political effort not connected to the Democrats or Republicans.

The jurisprudence of the Court remains hostile to minor party and Independent candidates, and this antipathy can be seen in at least a half dozen cases ...

This license, in effect, to discriminate against third parties and Independents—as well as the Court’s general reluctance to require much substantiation of “state interests” when states proffer that rationale to defend discriminatory laws—have not made it easy to be an Independent or the candidate of a Green, Libertarian, Socialist or Constitution Party, not to mention all the others. Moreover, the Court has left unreviewed outright miscarriages of justice ...

Of course, ballot access is just one of the burdens faced by third party and Independent candidates. Others include the federal regulatory system, the lack of public financing, the often dismissive if not derisive media, the Democrat and Republican cartel otherwise known as the Commission on Presidential Debates, which acts as a debate and media gatekeeper to millions.

Also, the hodgepodge of irregular and inconsistent laws can devalue the rights of a voter or candidate (from what counts as a vote to who is entitled to seek an audit) depending on the particular state jurisdiction in charge of administering the peculiar state laws applying to federal elections.

The question we should be asking is why we continue to permit this injustice when no other western country puts its third party and Independent candidates through the kind of hazing process ours does?

The congressional incumbency rate (routinely in the 90th percentile) reflects the often uncontested or merely predictable-by-landslide-proportions state of our congressional elections.

These uncompetitive elections can be impregnable for many reasons, not the least of which are gerrymandered districts, a winner-take-all or first-past-the-post electoral system, and the lack of a choice-maximizing vote counting system, such as instant runoff or ranked choice voting.

Now why is this even important? Because there are many who wish to engage in politics without these unreasonable constraints places upon them. As Poli-Tea observed:
The larger point here is that we are witnessing third party and independent agitation across the political and ideological spectrum.

As a free people, this agitation, born of frustration with our continuing politics-as-usual, should be allowed to express itself in political action.

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