Thursday, June 29, 2006

Major Party Status?

With the Green Party likely to fail in its quest for ballot access, finally some reporters are beginning to look at ballot status and political party status in Indiana. From an Indianapolis Star report:
Stant, the Green Party candidate for secretary of state, was holding out a sliver of hope Wednesday that he would clear the hurdle, one of the highest in the nation. He and volunteers around the state had collected 20,000 to 25,000 signatures, tantalizingly close to the goal he'd been striving toward for more than a year.

"We still have a fighting chance," Stant said, before wearily adding that, really, the chance was "highly unlikely."

The truth, Stant said, is that "it's not easy being a political candidate when you're not a Democrat or a Republican. You're made to feel like a criminal. You're made to feel like someone who doesn't belong. That's very, very depressing."

I have great sympathy. I believe that there should be no ballot restrictions in the United States, particularly at a time when we are in other countries trying to ensure open elections there. Iraq had more parties on the ballot than Indiana will. I have carried petitions in Ohio for the Libertarian Party for ballot access. It's very tedious, unfulfilling work. It's one of the reasons I am the Libertarian candidate for Indiana Secretary of State- to keep the LPIN on the ballot. 2% statewide does that, while a 10% result means major party status.

The reality is, the Republicans and Democrats are in collusion to maintain their duopoly, erecting difficult barriers to ballot access. Both parties fear the presence of any third party, for the so-called Nader Effect.

Current Secretary of State has made conflicting statements on the topic of multi-party access. From a Fort Wayne Observed entry:
(Rokita) talked about the Libertarian Party's effect on the race for Secretary of State: "They [Libertarians] always take margin away from the Republican vote in the Secretary of State's race. That's a historical fact." But he leavened that with the statement: "...I believe in multi-party systems."

And then in today's Star:
Secretary of State Todd Rokita, the Republican Stant hopes to challenge in November, said the state should have a discussion on where the bar should be set but added: "We have to have some parameters, or we'd be like some country in West Africa with 18 different parties on the ballot."

So, how many is "multi"? Hmmm. I guess it lies somewhere between 3 and 18, but seems closer to 3.

Anyhow, yes. Let's have that discussion. Let's keep in mind that they collusion of the Rs & Ds includes the act of gerrymandering, which causes many races to be uncompetitive. The purpose is to make sure the parties don't have to work terribly hard. Each side takes a good number of wins. Each side fights over a tiny handful of races to determine majority. So, here are my recommendations:
  • If a political party in Indiana does not run a candidate for US Senate, it is automatically declared a minor party in Indiana, because only a real loser of a political party can't find someone to run for US Senate.
  • If a party does not run a candidate in every State Senate and every State Representative race on the statewide ballot, it is automatically declared a minor party.
  • If a political party fails to run candidates in at least 50% of the races in any given county, they are declared a minor party in that county.
Hey- what's good for the goose... I get tired of the Republicans and Democrats crowing about being major parites, when they fail to meet these low threshholds. No excuses. Run full slates. You're major. You can do it!

However, the Dems can't- or won't- find anyone to run against Dick Lugar for US Senate. Can they really be out of sacrificial lambs? Maybe they just really like Lugar. From the Indy Star:
Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar will face no Democratic opposition in his run for a sixth term.

Dan Parker, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, said this morning that Lugar is just too popular to challenge.

"Let's be honest," Parker said. "Richard Lugar is beloved not only by Republicans but by independents and Democrats."

Fortunately, the Libertarians will be running a candidate, and not packing it in because the challenge is too difficult. Maybe like a corporation that is too big to adapt, the Democrats have become too bloated or too soft to give it a whirl. Whatever, the Dems deserve to be relegated to minor party status for this disservice to Hoosier voters.

Libertarians are used to scaling difficult odds. We've done it since 1994, maintaining continuous ballot access since that time. It's time Hoosiers gave up on these soft parties who have lost sight of the value of participation in the process.

-Mike Kole


William Larsen said...

Mike, I could not agree with you more on eliminating ballot restrictions. I had thought about running for U.S. Representative while I lived in N.C., but the number of signatures to get on the ballot was daunting.

We are restricting good individuals from running. Clearly requiring 20,000 signatures is too much. For example the remonstrative for Northwest Allen County School's renovation of Carroll high school only needed 100 signatures.

Does the secretary of state have any input on this?

Mike Kole said...

As the state's chief elections official, the Secretary of State does have plenty of cache in speaking about these issues, but ultimately, the legislature writes the laws. The Secretary of State presides over the Elections Division, which enforces the law. It could choose to look the other way on principle and not enforce.

Stant actually has a chance to get on the ballot as a Green candidate. If nobody issues a challenge, and the SOS chooses not to enforce, Stant is on the ballot.

My campaign manager, Rob Place, spoke with Bill Stant yesterday and spoke for me when he told Bill that the Kole Campaign will not issue a challenge.

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