Greens Battle Restrictive Ballot Access Laws in Many States
Monday, August 4, 2003
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Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, firstname.lastname@example.org
A victory in Maryland; a dramatic lawsuit in Alaska.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- State Green Parties across the U.S. are continuing to push for the repeal of restrictive ballot access laws, with a victory for Greens in Maryland and a dramatic law suit in Alaska.
MARYLAND: In a victory for Greens and others seeking fair ballot access, a Maryland Court of Appeals on July 29 struck down an election rule that has obstructed Greens from getting on the ballot, calling the state's two-step requirement discriminatory against third parties. Maryland had one of the most prohibitively difficult state ballot access rules in the U.S., requiring third parties to collect 10,000 signatures to win recognition and then submit nominating petitions with signatures from 1% of voters.
"The rule in Maryland was typical of states where Democrats and Republicans conspire to block competition from third party candidates and independents," said Linda Schade, Green organizer and 2002 candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates.
Maryland Democratic Party spokesman David Paulson, trying to defend the onerous requirements, argued against "stacking and loading a ballot that could make it more confusing for the voter." (Baltimore Sun, July 30)
"Apologists for the two-party system have long argued that more than two ballot choices confuses voters," added Schade. "We in the Green Party have greater respect for democracy and the intelligence of American voters. The real problem is the lack of competition -- about one third of Maryland's state Senate races were uncontested between 1962 and 1998."
ALASKA: The Green Party of Alaska filed a lawsuit in Anchorage Superior Court on July 29 against a state law that requires a party to draw 3% of the vote in a statewide race and in every gubernatorial race to maintain ballot status. Green officials, alleging that the rule violates their constitutional right of equal protection, sought an injunction to retain their ballot access.
"The law is pretty absurd, especially since two other Green Party statewide candidates received more than six percent in the same election," said Green Party Co-Chair Jim Sykes. The Alaska Greens are the only party, besides Republicans and Democrats, to run statewide candidates in every general election since 1990. Most statewide Green candidates have received far more than 3% of the total vote, even outpolling a Democrat in the 1996 race.
"Recognized political parties are expected to demonstrate a 'modicum of support.' The most recent election and the long history of Green Party candidates at the ballot box more than demonstrates statewide political party activity to meet this test," added Sykes.
STATE BALLOT ACCESS FOR GREEN PARTIES: As of August 2003, 23 state Green Parties have ballot status up through the 2004 election. Green registration is at an all time high, with over 281,000 nationwide.
According to Richard Winger of Ballot Access News, "States in which people can register Green and the government keeps a tally are: AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, ME, MD, MA, NJ, NV, NM, NY, OR, PA. States in which people can register Green but the govt won't tally are: IA, KY, LA, NE, NH, NC, OK, RI, SD, UT, WV, WY (the state governments of RI and UT don't keep a tally for any party, not even Dem or Rep). The one state which has registration into qualified parties, but which makes it literally impossible for people to register Green, is KS." (Posted at 'Green Party Ballot Status and Voter Registration Totals http://web.greens.org/stats/)
"Greens, like other third parties, face everything from absurdly difficult and complex rules to panicked public denunciations when they try to run for office," said Jo Chamberlain, California Green and co-chair of the national party. "Here in California, Democrats are trying to browbeat the Greens in an effort to stop Green candidate Peter Camejo from running in the recall gubernatorial race."
The Green Party of the United States
Ballot Access News http://www.ballot-access.org