February 01, 2002
Give me options

An interesting opinion piece on the nature of alternative political parties and restricted ballot access. The writer, a Libertarian, makes the case that freer access to ballots would not necessarily weaken the traditional parties:

Mark Rutherford, chairman of the Indiana Libertarian Party, offered another angle. "If the Democrats want to weaken the efforts of the Green Party in Indiana, in a perverse way, easier ballot access might do that. It will cause Greens to focus less on statewide organization, and more on candidates, which will splinter their efforts and effectiveness." He pointed out that tough ballot access rules have actually helped organize and motivate the Libertarians, who have more elected officeholders than all the other alternative parties combined.

Rutherford was quick to add a counterpoint: "The more names on the ballots, the more issues are raised; and all the candidates then become more focused to the needs and desires of the voters. This is good for the astute Democrat and Republican who picks this up, and steals the issue from the Libertarian."

I've generally been agnostic on this issue, as I find that alternative parties tend to be fringe and single-issue types who are boring at best, but I think he's on to something. It's certainly the case that reasonable ballot access laws are in line with the spirit of our democracy. Call me a convert on this issue.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 01, 2002 to Election 2002 | TrackBack