Breaking Out of the Duopoly: Ballot Access and Third Parties


Most Americans take it for granted that they can vote for who they want on election day, but that’s not always the case.  When you get inside the polling booth, often you’ll find only two candidates listed: a Democrat and a Republican.  This isn’t because of a lack of candidates or political parties.  There’s are many of both.  The problem is they can’t get on the ballot.  Ballot access restrictions vary from state to state, but they have one thing in common and that is to prevent people other than Democrats and Republicans from getting on the ballot.  Many of these laws have been on the books for a long time.  State legislatures can change them, but frequently don’t and it takes a court challenge to get them removed.  Americans generally assume that apathy on the part of voters to organize a challenge to the two-party duopoly is responsible for the lack of parties on the ballot.  When the ballot access restrictions that hinder the candidacy of any third-party are demonstrated, people tend to think these are results of the activities some overzealous, nameless, faceless bureaucrat instead of what they are:  A coordinated effort by the two major political parties to hinder any challenge to their preeminence.

If somebody actually makes some inroads into this system, retribution from the major parties starts.  A good example of this is the Ralph Nader candidacy on the Green Party ticket in 2000.  Before the election, the Democratic Party propaganda campaign against Ralph Nader began.  After the election, the campaign went into high gear and it still goes on today.  How often have you heard the myth that Ralph Nader is to blame for Al Gore’s loss?  Propaganda wasn’t enough for the democrats.  They decided to augment this with petty vindictiveness and challenge his future ballot access.  Nader’s attempts to get on the ballot in 2004 were challenged in over 20 states.

In Pennsylvania, the vindictiveness turned into something of a vendetta, when Ralph Nader was forced to pay over $80,000 because of violations of Pennsylvania ballot access laws.  The vendetta continued in 2006 when the Green Party candidate for senator was also forced to pay over $80,000.  Their crimes?  They had their signatures challenged by the Democratic Party and had to pay the Democratic Party lawyers.   The law that both candidates were accused of violating was on the books since 1937, it was revised in the 1970s,  but these were the first times monetary damages were assessed against candidates who attempted to gain ballot access.  The Green Party had allowed Ralph Nader on their ballot line and they must be punished.   Green Party candidates for office withdrew their candidacy in 2006 and 2010 because of the financial burden they would receive if their candidacy didn’t pass the challenges.  Challenges that included: voiding signatures that were collected by nonresidents of PA and providing people to help review the nominating signatures.  These parts of the law  have since been declared unconstitutional, but others remain, including one that requires anybody to get ten times the number of signatures that the law requires of Democrats or Republicans.

Pennsylvania isn’t the only state with ballot access restrictions, they vary from state to state, but they have one thing in common:  to dissuade other candidates and parties from appearing on the ballot.    Parties must spend time and money on lawyers to challenge these laws, instead of getting out their message.  The laws aren’t for the protection or benefit of citizens but are legal barriers erected to prevent anyone except Democrats and Republicans from getting on the ballot.  Restrictions that have deliberately put in their way by Democrats and Republicans in government.  Since they are governmental regulations, they have the patina of legitimacy.

The Democratic Party would have you believe they are the only thing from stopping whatever troglodyte du jour is running.  Nixon, Reagan, Bush.  The problem is never with the Democratic Party or its policies, the blame is with Eugene McCarthy, John Anderson, or Ralph Nader.  This year, their bete noir is Donald Trump, but they haven’t decided who to blame yet if they lose:  Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein.  The Democrats would have you believe that anybody who doesn’t share their point of view is a Republican, as if there is no Libertarian Party or no conservatives opposed to Trump.  The Democrats and Republicans act like their parties have the only practical candidates, but the emperor wears no clothes and people are starting to see this.  Stop voting for one of the two major parties!

Jill Stein and the Green Party present a viable alternative to both the Democrats and Republicans, but their message is not being heard and Democrats are going out of their way to make sure it isn’t.  As in past years, the Greens are spending time and money to overcome ballot restrictions.  As Jill Stein has said:  “Forget the lesser evil and stand up and fight for the greater good.”

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
March 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Roberto J. González
The Mind-Benders: How to Harvest Facebook Data, Brainwash Voters, and Swing Elections
Paul Street
Deplorables II: The Dismal Dems in Stormy Times
Nick Pemberton
The Ghost of Hillary
Andrew Levine
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Paul de Rooij
Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Coming in Hot
Chuck Gerhart
Sessions Exploits a Flaw to Pursue Execution of Meth Addicts
Robert Fantina
Distractions, Thought Control and Palestine
Hiroyuki Hamada
The Eyes of “Others” for Us All
Robert Hunziker
Is the EPA Hazardous to Your Health?
Stephanie Savell
15 Years After the Iraq Invasion, What Are the Costs?
Aidan O'Brien
Europe is Pregnant 
John Eskow
How Can We Live With All of This Rage?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Was Khe Sanh a Win or a Loss?
Dan Corjescu
The Man Who Should Be Dead
Howard Lisnoff
The Bone Spur in Chief
Brian Cloughley
Hitler and the Poisoning of the British Public
Brett Wilkins
Trump Touts $12.5B Saudi Arms Sale as US Support for Yemen War Literally Fuels Atrocities
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraqi Landscapes: the Path of Martyrs
Brian Saady
The War On Drugs Is Far Deadlier Than Most People Realize
Stephen Cooper
Battling the Death Penalty With James Baldwin
CJ Hopkins
Then They Came for the Globalists
Philip Doe
In Colorado, See How They Run After the Fracking Dollars
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Armed Propaganda
Binoy Kampmark
John Brennan’s Trump Problem
Nate Terani
Donald Trump’s America: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
Steve Early
From Jackson to Richmond: Radical Mayors Leave Their Mark
Jill Richardson
To Believe in Science, You Have to Know How It’s Done
Ralph Nader
Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear
Sam Pizzigati
Billionaires Won’t Save the World, Just Look at Elon Musk
Sergio Avila
Don’t Make the Border a Wasteland
Daryan Rezazad
Denial of Climate Change is Not the Problem
Ron Jacobs
Flashing for the Refugees on the Unarmed Road of Flight
Missy Comley Beattie
The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities
George Wuerthner
Isle Royale: Manage for Wilderness Not Wolves
George Payne
Pompeo Should Call the Dogs Off of WikiLeaks
Russell Mokhiber
Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections
Franklin Lamb
Despite Claims, Israel-Hezbollah War is Unlikely
Montana Wilderness Association Dishonors Its Past
Elizabeth “Liz” Hawkins, RN
Nurses Are Calling #TimesUp on Domestic Abuse
Paul Buhle
A Caribbean Giant Passes: Wilson Harris, RIP
Mel Gurtov
A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington
Seth Sandronsky
Hoop schemes: Sacramento’s corporate bid for an NBA All-Star Game
Louis Proyect
The French Malaise, Now and Then
David Yearsley
Bach and the Erotics of Spring