FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Green Party Seeks 2016 Ballot Access in all 50 States: an Interview with Rick Lass

On June 5th, the Nevada Green Party and the Jill Stein for President 2016 campaign filed petitions to qualify for the Nevada ballot in November. Stein thanked all those who helped collect signatures, including Bernie Sanders’ supporters who were alienated by Nevada’s controversial nominating convention.

The Nevada Green Party was required to file 5,431 signatures. They filed 8,300 which will now be verified by county clerks and then sent to the Nevada Secretary of State.  Nevada Greens and the Stein campaign believe that number ensures qualification even after some number of signatures have been invalidated by clerks comparing them to the voter rolls.

I spoke to New Mexico activist and Stein campaign staffer Rick Lass about petition drives and other efforts to get the Green Party on the ballot in all 50 states. Several generalizations were necessary because, to be absolutely precise, we would have to have 51 conversations about the byzantine ballot access barriers in most every state and Washington D.C. I hope to talk to Rick about the specifics of more state ballot access drives again as they progress.

Ann Garrison: Rick Lass, your campaign press release said that Green Party candidate Jill Stein will be on the ballot in 22 states. Could you give us an overview of your petition drives to get on the ballot in the other 28 states?

Rick Lass: Yes, we’re actively petitioning in 25 and expect to be petitioning in all 28 very soon. We fully expect to get on the ballot in all but three states due to our petition drives, and in three states we’ll probably litigate because their petition requirements are so onerous.

AG:  And those three states are?

RL: North Carolina, Indiana and Oklahoma. And the most egregious example is North Carolina, which requires 89,000 signatures. We filed just under 12,000 signatures there on June 1st, and we expect that the state will reject them and that we’ll have to go to court over this.

AG: Greens in the State of Georgia have had some success with this, right?

RL: Yes, there was a lawsuit that was settled about two months ago in which a federal judge ruled that the 54,000 signatures requirement was unconstitutionally high and reduced it to 7500. So Georgia Greens are very excited, and they’re redoubling their efforts because what seemed like an impossible task is now very possible. We expect that we will file in Georgia with plenty of signatures in mid-July and that we’ll be on the ballot there.

AG: What about Washington D.C.?

RL: The DC Statehood Green Party is already on the ballot in Washington D.C.

AG: Why is it that the Green Party has to repeat so many of the ballot access drives of 2012, when it succeeded in 38 states?

RL: Well that’s just one of the many obstacles that the major parties put up to voter choice, and so we may have to do it again in four years, even if we get on the ballot in all 50 states, because in most states, there’s a vote test.  If a Green candidate – frequently the candidate at the top of the ticket, the candidate for president, governor or other statewide office – doesn’t get maybe one percent, maybe three, or maybe five percent, depending on the state, then that state’s election officials will disqualify us and we’ll have to start again from scratch the next time. This clearly never happens to the two major parties.

AG: California is one of the only states that has a Green Party primary.  Five candidates, Darryl CherneySKCM CurryWilliam KremlKent Mensplay and Jill Steincompeted in that primary, and Stein won with roughly 80% of the Green vote.  Jill Stein’s organization seems to be leading these ballot access drives, even though the Green Party will not choose its presidential candidate until August 6th, midway through its  August 4th to 7th convention in Houston. Could you talk about that?

RL: That’s true and I am actually working for the Stein campaign.  It would be ideal if the Green Party were able to undertake these ballot access drives as such, but the reality is that it takes an inspiring candidate with an organization to raise the funds and attract the volunteers needed to get on the ballot.

Wherever we can, we qualify the Green Party, so that other Green candidates for state or local offices can also get their names on the ballot.  However, in some cases, like Alaska, that hasn’t been possible. The signature requirement for qualifying a party in Alaska is 8500, and the deadline for that passed on May 2nd. The signature requirement to qualify an individual candidate is only 3000 and we are well on our way to getting Jill Stein on the ballot by the August 10th deadline.

AG: It’s often argued that Greens should concentrate on local races for the school board, the city council, etcetera, instead of running presidential candidates. What’s your response to that?

RL: Well there’s a lot of merit to that regarding party building, but in most states, if you want to run local candidates, first you need to have the Green Party’s name on the ballot, you need to have a ballot line.  And for that, most of those states require you to have a presidential or gubernatorial candidate who gets that one or three or five percent of the vote that we were just talking about. I would love to see state legislatures say, as Colorado does, “Hey, if you have a thousand registered voters in our state, then you’re on the ballot. That’s all you need, a thousand registered voters. You don’t need to run candidates for president or governor.” Ballot access shouldn’t be so daunting to parties outside the Democrat and Republican duopoly.

In just about every other democracy in Latin America or Europe, voters expect to have four or five or six parties on the ballot. And those parties don’t have to jump over hurdles like those here. People who want to keep Greens and other parties off the ballot claim that voters will be too confused by three or four or more ballot lines, but that’s ridiculous and insulting to the voters.

More articles by:

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist who also contributes to the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, the Black Agenda Report and the Black Star News, and produces radio for KPFA-Berkeley and WBAI-New York City.  In 2014, she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize by the Womens International Network for Democracy and Peace.  She can be reached at ann@afrobeatradio.com.

September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail