Ballot-access kerfuffle

Mike at Okiedoke inadvertently precipitated a brouhaha with this observation:

Dart: To Frosty Troy of The Oklahoma Observer for his support of Oklahoma voters having only two parties on the ballot. Frosty says a third candidate might screw up a close race between a Democrat and a Republican. Yeah, that would be terrible. And imagine what might happen if neither a Democrat or Republican was elected; I like to.

Which was followed by this blast by Red S. Tater, and a return volley by J. M. Branum, with mutual sniping along the way.

Tater, unfortunately, damages his case by raising the spectre of “fusion,” the process by which candidates in some states can run on multiple party tickets, and quotes Dan Cantor at TPM Cafe, who sees it as a useful tool for Democrats, which indeed it could be. However, inasmuch as nowhere in the Oklahoma petition is there any reference to fusion or any language which would expedite it, Tater is showing us, you should pardon the expression, a red herring.

And just for historical perspective: the Republicans were originally a third party, ascending to the Big Two in the wake of the dissolution of the Whigs. (If they play their cards right, they could be just as dead as the Whigs.)

In the meantime, I will continue to believe that we’d be better off if we had actual Greens and Libertarians and such on the state ballot, and if they “screw up a close race” — well, isn’t that just too damn bad? No party, major, minor or minuscule, has any business thinking it’s entitled to an office.



  1. Babs »

    30 September 2007 · 1:12 pm

    Wow. Well said, Charles.

  2. Matt »

    30 September 2007 · 3:40 pm

    I generally prefer more ballot access over less ballot access, but I always get tripped up in these things wanting a way that permits more ballot access but does not give a big advantage to people or groups that can afford to buy their way onto the ballot, either through fees or massive organizing or whatever.

    Having no concept of a reasonable solution, I tend to sit this one out.

  3. Bill Peschel »

    30 September 2007 · 3:52 pm

    I wish I could link to it, but I remember reading an analysis of competition in the marketplace. It concluded that, for true competition that results in lower prices, you need at least three competing. The higher the number, the less the effect, but when you have only two choices, you don’t get true competition that results in a more efficient purchase of goods.

    Just like in our two-party system.

  4. McGehee »

    30 September 2007 · 4:18 pm

    the Republicans were originally a third party

    I beg to differ. By the time the Republicans were forming, the Whig Party had already dwindled to minor-party status due to the fractious nature of its core coalition. From the beginning it had existed solely to oppose the Jacksonian faction that became the Democratic Party.

    The Republican Party might have gone the same way, had not the election of its first successful presidential nominee helped precipitate a crisis that been hanging fire for generations. And the Democrats learned the hard way what happens when you stop standing for something, and instead take a near-absolute stand against something or, as was the case, someone.

    I’ve said that I don’t think we really have a stable two-party system, but rather a one-and-a-half-party system that occasionally polarizes, temporarily, into two more-or-less equally endowed factions. But invariably one becomes dominant, mostly because the other sabotages itself.

  5. CGHill »

    30 September 2007 · 6:55 pm

    Certainly the defection of some of the remaining Whigs hastened that party’s demise, but it wasn’t quite dead just yet, although you could easily follow the circles toward the drain.

    As for the 1.5-party premise, it makes a certain amount of sense, if only because there’s so much fluidity: people don’t change registrations very often, but crossing the aisle to vote for the other party’s candidate is now pretty routine, and the number of Independents continues to rise.

    Which, of course, invites this question: How many of the Republicans’ 2006 (and, if you believe the pollsters, 2008) wounds qualify as self-inflicted?

  6. McGehee »

    30 September 2007 · 7:22 pm

    How many of the Republicans’ 2006 … wounds qualify as self-inflicted?

    For 2006 the best the Democrats were able to do was point to all the times the Republican leadership shot itself in the foot, and yell, “See? See?”

    (and, if you believe the pollsters, 2008)

    The GOP is still suffering fallout from its 2006 screw-ups. It remains to be seen whether there are enough new wounds to outweigh the self-inflicted wounds by Reid, Pelosi, and the Men Who Would Be President.

  7. McGehee »

    30 September 2007 · 7:26 pm

    As for my 1.5-party model, the fact most of the electorate doesn’t register (or otherwise identify, as in states that don’t record party affiliation with voter registration) with either of the Big One and a Half, does tend to bolster the thesis.

    The fact they also tend not to vote, maybe not so much.

  8. John Owen Butler »

    1 October 2007 · 1:41 pm

    Having worked several years ago as an organizer for a wannabe third party in Oklahoma, I applaud anyone one who tries to pry ballot access from the greedy hands of the Ds and Rs. The ridiculously-high figure for access in OK means that only Ross Perot-types can pony up the cash for hired-gun petitioneers. Again, money gets what money wants.

    But then again, Oklahoma politics has never been much of a participatory sport, has it?

    Now, if we can get third-party / independent access requirements lowered, the next thing is to allow writ-in voting again.

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