Symposium 2011: Should the Congress pass a federal ballot access law which eases the requirements for placing a minor party and/or independent candidate on the ballot for Congress and President? If so, what is the ideal ballot access requirement?

Sydney:  I totally agree with this. The system now is a joke. There are so many different rules across the different States that sometimes even Republican and Democrat candidates can’t get on the ballot.


For a start there needs to be one Federal Ballot Access Law that applies to all States. I think that a political party needs to have a minimum number of members. Independent candidates should be allowed on the Ballot as long as they are American citizens (born in America), at least 18, and have no criminal record.

Michigan:  Minority parties or independents can get on a ballot.  I really don’t foresee an independent or minority party ever gaining enough support to make a difference.

Cartwright:  I didn’t know that we had a problem with getting people on the ballot.  Last time I voted for President, there were about two pages of people running for President from several different parties.  Let’s see, you’ve got the two main parties then you got the Green party, Libertarian, Constitution, Reform, Independence, and so on.  Obviously, there isn’t a problem for these people getting on the ballot.  What more do we need?

I do agree with a comment that was made earlier.  We need to ensure that these other parties have an opportunity to participate in the debates.  To exclude them is quite un-American, in my opinion.  Isn’t it totally elitist for the organizers of the debates to say that we don’t think you have a chance, so we’re not going to include you in the debate.  The reality is that the two main parties don’t want anyone else in the debate lest they draw support away from Democrats or Republicans.  It’s the whole self preservation argument again.

I mean, it certainly feels like the American people are being set up at each election.  We’re given the illusion of the right to vote for all these parties and people, but isn’t the system rigged to keep one of the two main parties in power?  The only independents we have in the Senate are ones who were formerly with one of the two parties and switched for self preservation or political purposes.  None of the other parties have elected officials in the House or the Senate.  If we truly had free and open elections, we’d have a lot of different people from different parties in the Congress and have presidential debates that include at least the three or four other parties with the largest bases—Constitution, Libertarian, Green, and Reform.

RMC:  I don’t know what the ideal ballot access requirement should be.  I think that is worth studying.  I think the important thing is that other candidates not just the ones from the two main parties have access to being on the ballot.  What we don’t need is a ballot that has a hundred candidates on it but we’ve got some pretty well established parties here in the United States.

Unfortunately, the bigger problem is that little attention is placed on these other candidates by the media.  Perhaps someone in the Libertarian party may be a good candidate for president, but the public doesn’t get to know them because they’re excluded from the debates and they don’t get any coverage by the press.  You know, this happens at all levels…federal, state, and local.  I think it’s largely a function that the two major parties, Republican and Democrat, don’t want the increased competition that may take votes from their bases.

In an ideal world, we could get additional candidates from other parties elected to the Congress.  That would force some major compromise by both parties to work to get things done.  Under that scenario, I think the American people actually win big time.  Look at the British House of Commons right now.  No party obtained a majority in the last election, so the Tories have had to form an alliance with the Liberal Democrats to form a government.  Things seem to be working a little better there than they are here at the moment.

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