The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

5 September 2004

The ballot of Johnny and George

KGOU's Oklahoma Voices program devoted half an hour this week to the onerous task third parties and independents face trying to get on the November ballot in this state. Representatives of the Libertarian and Green parties were in attendance; Richard Winger of Ballot Access News was on the phone from San Francisco. Winger's figures as of today show the Libertarians on 43 state ballots and the Greens on 27, though as of this writing neither of them will be on the Oklahoma ballot.

I did learn a few things from this program. For one, while ballot access in this state has always been difficult, it became much more so after 1968, when George Wallace managed to pull 46 electoral votes and almost 13 percent of the popular vote nationwide. And a spokesman for the state Election Board points out that there's always the question of stalking horses: for instance, there was widespread suspicion in 2000 that Republicans were providing sub rosa support to Ralph Nader's campaign, on the basis that Nader could draw away votes from the Democratic candidate. The Libertarian official noted that it's the job of the electorate, not the Election Board, to determine whether a candidate is someone else's sock puppet.

Richard Winger has noted elsewhere that the Oklahoma law is going to have to be reexamined next year. Last month, the state Supreme Court ordered that a candidate for Congress be placed on the ballot as an Independent despite that candidate's Republican registration; the Tenth Circuit has previously ruled that states may not require specific (or even any) registration for Congressional candidates, so at the very least this clause will be struck. Says Winger:

Since the legislature must pass a ballot access bill on this subject, perhaps other helpful provisions could be added.

Helpful, and long overdue, if you ask me.

Posted at 4:41 PM to Soonerland

Actually, it was not Richard Winger but John B. Anderson who stated that it was the electorate and not the state who should determine if candidates are stalking horses or otherwise being used by the major parties. Anderson, as many will recall, ran for President in 1980 as an Independent, getting nearly 7% of the vote.

And let me say something about George Wallace. The program played his famous quote "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever." Wallace's racist positions are certainly wrong, and today seem totally reprehensible, but at the time he, as Chaz notes, was popular enough to get 46 electoral votes. Millions of people chose to vote for Wallace, and the legislature has no right to prevent them just because they don't like Wallace's views(even if they have good reason not to like those views). Further, it was not Wallace's views that were the problem, as the legislature saw it. The problem was that had Wallace not been shot in '72 and had been on the ballot again, the Democratic candidate, George McGovern, would have finished third in Oklahoma.

Posted by: Chris at 7:23 PM on 5 September 2004

No transcripts are up yet; I could have sworn it was Tom Laurent of the LP who said it was the electorate, and not the state, who should determine if candidates are stalking horses or otherwise being used by the major parties. (It's not like I've never been wrong before.)

I think Wallace could have carried the state in '72, though not by much. (And even Wallace was renouncing his segregationist beliefs toward the end of his life.)

Posted by: CGHill at 10:30 PM on 5 September 2004