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IVN: How Many People Actually Voted for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton? Not Many

We’ve heard media pundits call it, “democracy in action.” Millions of voters have cast a ballot in the first round of the presidential election with many Republican and Democratic contests still to come. The media has talked about record-breaking numbers showing up to polling locations in droves, but what does that actually mean?

IVN independent author Gabriel Saint Cyr reported recently that both Republicans and Democrats have seen primary/caucus turnout that rivals the 2008 presidential election. The Democrats’ turnout of 11.7 percent of eligible voters nationally is the second highest turnout in nearly a quarter of a century. The Republicans are seeing their biggest turnout in modern U.S. history — a whopping 17.3 percent of the eligible voting population.

Media pundits call this democracy in action, yet this means that the number of voters (percent) in many states who are deciding which two major party candidates are guaranteed a spot on the general election ballot in all 50 states is in the single digits. The electability of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich are being decided by only a handful of voters.

The data below was compiled from various secretary of state and board of elections websites and shows the stark reality of what winning a presidential primary or caucus actually means. The calculations, drawn from election results and voter registration statistics, show how big victories were won by less than 10 percent of the registered voting population in many states — a number that would be even smaller when looking at the entire voting age population.

It is information not often shared in the mass media, but readers can decide for themselves, is this really democracy in action?

This article, written by Athena Gavranian, was republished with permission from IVN.

California Resolution Would Provide for a Nonpartisan “Public Ballot” Option for Presidential Primaries

(Sacramento, CA) – Assemblymember Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto), State Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), and the Independent Voter Project jointly announce the filing of resolution ACR 145 in the California State assembly urging Secretary of State Alex Padilla to provide an additional, nonpartisan presidential ballot that lists all the qualified candidates so that voters – regardless of their affiliation or nonaffiliation with a major political party – have an opportunity to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice this election. The state would continue to distribute partisan primary ballots to Democratic and Republican voters. The resolution would allow for the creation of a nonpartisan “public ballot” for voters who either can’t or don’t want to vote in a political party’s primary election to participate in the presidential primary.

“ACR 145 strikes a balance between the constitutionally-protected rights of voters to select a presidential candidate – regardless of political party preference – with the rights of political parties to determine who may or may not participate in their private nomination proceedings,” Assemblymember Olsen said. “We shouldn’t be disenfranchising voters in an open primary state by not giving them an opportunity to vote for the most important office in America.”

“Every year, more and more Californians are choosing to not affiliate with a political party. We simply must provide means for those citizens to participate in our democracy and in the elections that they help to pay for,” said State Senator Cannella. “Though I am a proud Republican, I have and will continue to protect the rights of my entire constituency – regardless of their partisan affiliation or nonaffiliation. All Californians should have a voice in the political process and ACR 145 will allow that.”

Under California’s statewide elections, voters can choose to vote for any candidate, regardless of the voter or the candidate’s party affiliation. However, for the presidential election, only Republican voters can vote for Republican candidates, and independent voters (called “No Party Preference”, or “NPP” voters in California) can only vote for Democratic, Libertarian, or American Independent candidates, and only if they actively request a ballot for these parties. Voters who want to vote for a Republican candidate have to register as a Republican within fifteen days of the election to do so. Resolution 145 asks the secretary of state to exercise his authority to ensure that California voters get to vote for the candidate of their choice whether or not they register with a given political party.

The Independent Voter Project provided legal research to both legislators and the legislative analyst and had previously discussed its legal analysis with the secretary of state and his lawyers, including the issue of spending taxpayer dollars on an important stage of the public election process that is controlled exclusively by the private political parties.

If the resolution is adopted, the parties would not be required to allow nonmembers to participate in their nomination proceedings nor would they be required to consider the results of the nonpartisan primary when selecting their party nominee for president. The resolution only asks the secretary of state to create a ballot that would open the process up more to independent voters who want to participate, but also don’t want to affiliate with a political party.

“A majority of new voters are choosing not to express a political party preference. Excluding them from this important stage of a publicly-funded election process of choosing the next president is voter discrimination. The Independent Voter Project (IVP) is dedicated to protecting the voting rights of every voter regardless of political preferences,” says Dan Howle, co-chair of the Independent Voter Project.

Over the last two years, the IVP has led a coalition of nonpartisan organizations and 7 individual plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of New Jersey’s closed primary system, which allows only Republican and Democratic party voters to participate, despite the state’s 47% independent voter registration. As court precedent stands today, a voter must join one of the two qualified political parties in that state as a condition of gaining the right to vote during the primary election.

IVP has expressed their intent to challenge this legal requirement in other states as part of a long-term strategy to protect the rights of every individual voter, regardless of his or her party affiliation.

Iowa Democratic Party Asserts Private Right Not to Disclose Vote Counts

By Shawn M. Griffiths – The Des Moines Register is calling for an audit of the Democratic caucus results after several reports of precincts being decided by coin flips and missing caucus-goers. The newspaper wants the Iowa Democratic Party to swiftly act to ensure that the results are accurate.

“What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. Democracy, particularly at the local party level, can be slow, messy and obscure. But the refusal to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy,” the Register’s editorial board writes.

[pull_quote_center]“Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems. Too many of us, including members of the Register editorial board who were observing caucuses, saw opportunities for error amid Monday night’s chaos.”[/pull_quote_center]

However, such an audit is unlikely to come. The Sanders campaign has done its own investigation, rechecking the results precinct by precinct. According to the campaign, it has found some irregularities, but the Iowa Democratic Party won’t allow the campaign to compare the math sheets and other paper work filed by precinct chairs.

“The answer is that we had all three camps in the tabulation room last night to address any grievances brought forward, and we went over any discrepancies. These are the final results,” Dr. Andy McGuire, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said in an interview for the Register.

The party has never released head counts, and it won’t this time as Democratic leaders claim a private right to keep that information from the public. McGuire said that the winner of the Iowa caucus is determined by state-delegate equivalent, rather than the final head count for each candidate.

In other words, garnering the most votes in the Iowa caucus may not guarantee a candidate a win. There are no paper ballots and precinct results can apparently come down to coin tosses, in accordance with party rules, to determine the allocation of local delegates.



This article was republished with permission from IVN.

Libertarian Chair on Top-Two Primary: ‘We Are Better With It Than Without It’

By Gabriel Saint Cyr – Washington Libertarian Party (LPWA) Chairman C. Michael Pickens believes that the nonpartisan, top-two primary is the best system in the country to get Libertarians elected to office. Pickens cites recent successes party candidates have had in Washington state to make his point.

In most states, the primary process is dominated by political parties. Primary voters participate in taxpayer-funded primary elections where candidates are chosen to represent private political parties in the general election.

However, Washington state uses a nonpartisan, top-two primary similar to California. All candidates and voters participate on a single primary ballot and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party preference, move on to the general election.

In an interview for IVN, Pickens discussed the impact the nonpartisan system has had on the LPWA since it was first implemented in 2008, along with his optimism for the future.

According to Pickens, Libertarian leaders in Washington initially interpreted the top-two system as an effort to stifle the influence of third parties. However, he sees top two differently.

He explained that under more traditional partisan systems, Republican candidates typically attack Libertarian candidates, because if there is a Republican, a Democrat, and a Libertarian on the general election ballot, Republicans will accuse the Libertarian of siphoning votes from the GOP.

“They’re all going to the general election so the votes are being split,” Pickens said.

He argues that general election voters are essentially forced to choose between voting for their preferred candidate and voting for someone else strategically to avoid a worst-case scenario.

“In Washington state (under top two), one of the strategies we use is we tell people they can vote their conscience in the primary,” Pickens said. “It is actually a benefit for us because people can vote the way they want in the primary.”

He further explained that as an added bonus, a third-party candidate no longer has to clear the staggering hurdle of placing first in a general election against a Democrat, a Republican, and perhaps others. Now, a second place finish in the primary is good enough to move on to a contest against just one opponent.

These benefits are not just theoretical, either. Pickens said that after the LPWA shifted its focus in how it recruited candidates and running solid campaigns, the party ran 12 candidates in 2014, 8 of whom made it to the general election. The elections resulted in the highest vote totals in LPWA history.

In 2015, the party fielded 17 candidates, 5 of whom won in local races. The LPWA more than doubled its elected representation from 4 to 9.

“Now we have 23 candidates lined up to run right now that are confirmed and I think 9 potential candidates,” Pickens added.

While minor party challenges to top two have diminished in Washington state, they still exist in California, where some party leaders have encouraged their members not to vote in the general election in some races out of protest against the nonpartisan system.

Opponents of top two argue that it diminishes voter choice, restricting options available to voters in the general election when the most people historically participate. With limited voter support, third parties have a tough hurdle to clear to get to the November election under top two.

In response, Pickens says that party leaders should spend less time squabbling over procedure and more time where it counts – campaigning and getting people to the polls.

“The bottom line is third parties have to go to work,” he said. “If we can’t get second place in a primary, we’re never going to be able to get first place in the general.”

For Pickens, this means going door-to-door, putting up door hangers, and other traditional forms of advertising and campaigning that he says is working for the party now that they have built up a solid infrastructure in the state.

Pickens says there are alternative voting methods and election systems that he would prefer, such as ranked-choice voting and the use of multi-member districts with proportional representation. However, he says top-two is an improvement from what Washington state used to have and was even one of his motivations to move to the state.

“I think we have the best system in the country to get Libertarians elected,” Pickens concluded. “If we can get a Libertarian elected to state office, we can actually do a whole lot more around the country, because that will give other people permission, and motivation, and inspiration that maybe they can do that in their state.”


This article was republished with permission from IVN.

Google’s New Search Feature Gives Party Candidates Power to Control What Information You Receive

By Edgar Wilson – I wrote before that Google’s search algorithm didn’t play politics — facts spoke for themselves, and searcher/voter intent determined the results they found.

That, unfortunately, is no longer the case.

The world’s most popular search engine has announced that a new, experimental feature will give presidential candidates (Republicans and Democrats only) a way to feature their own images, and up to 14,400 characters of their own text, at the top of relevant searches.

Similar to how a search for, say, a celebrity will yield a Knowledge Graph above all other organic results (typically a Wikipedia page), featuring images, biographical information, and related links, the idea is to bring voters directly to the candidates they are searching for with real-time updates.

These Candidate Cards will not be drawn from other popular search results, as the current Knowledge Graphs are; rather, they will be taken from the candidates themselves. That means they will determine independently what the primary search results for their names look and sound like.

It is well documented, researched, and discussed how important social media’s role was in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. By making a public search for facts and resources redundant to social media, Google is compromising the future and development of political engagement online.

The difference between online search and social media was, until now, the difference between campaigns controlling the message and people electing to engage directly, versus the sum of what is being said both by and about candidates, correlated with how the public at large is receiving these many different narratives and messages. Or put differently, Google is bridging the gap between public relations and public scrutiny, and putting PR on top.

Relying on candidates for self-representation is a poor alternative to aggregating reporting, commentary, and the full record of their own comments arranged through Google’s traditional search mechanisms. Of course, traditional search still exists, it just won’t feature above the new Candidate Cards.

[quote_box_center]By making a public search for facts and resources redundant to social media, Google is compromising the future and development of political engagement online. Edgar T. Wilson, IVN Independent Author[/quote_box_center]

It is roughly akin to a newspaper giving its front page away to politicians to write whatever they please (alongside whatever photographs they choose), and relegating traditional news to the interior. All the power and significance that comes with being on the front page is signed away to partisans. The real news isn’t gone, it is just buried.

Candidates are historically — and in this race particularly — poor resources for an accurate account of their historical positions or accomplishments. By featuring them above organic search results, Google is lending credibility where none belongs.

A myriad of other channels — from social media to their own campaign websites — already exist to give candidates an unfiltered, direct route to potential voters.

Google might have been a counterweight, a route to find robust skepticism, alternative points of view, and of course comparing claims against reality. And while the immediate aftermath of any major debate is always an avalanche of articles providing more grounded analysis and fact-checking of the many claims and quotations exchanged in the heat of the pageant, Google is giving precedence to the raw, redundant outflow of propaganda generated by the candidates themselves.

In yet another medium, the voices of the leading parties are being hoisted above the voices of everyone else.

By providing this new feature exclusively to the leading party candidates, Google is mirroring the focus on whatever selection of aspirants the television networks deem “legitimate” hopefuls, and marginalizing all the rest. Just as mainstream news prefers to ignore alternative parties, reject rule changes that would let lesser-known candidates feature in debates, and generally behave as though Republicans and Democrats provide sufficient variety to satisfy American voters — now Google will, too.

Google presents its Candidate Cards feature as something that “levels the playing field for candidates to share ideas and positions on issues they may not have had a chance to address during the debate.” This effort might come off as more sincere if it did in fact level the playing field, rather than cementing the dominance of two parties over the spectrum of American political ideas.

Google may not be directly endorsing a single candidate — yet — but it is endorsing the stymied, dysfunctional two-party system that disenfranchises voters, fuels cynicism, and hurts democracy.

The Information Age would seem to be a key component to realizing greater democratic participation: if an educated electorate is central to the success of democracy, then access to information would be a logical next step. Active voters ought to be able to learn about their choices; the de facto gatekeeper of that information can’t reinforce the system that limits those choices by limiting that information.

The structure of Google search results gives weight to certain information; that which provides the most value is supposed to float to the top. If this new kind of formatting is to be filtered through partisan favoritism and become a standard element of Google’s political search results, then the voters have been abandoned by the last truly democratic outlier there was: the Internet.


This article was republished with permission from IVN

To Get Her Daughter the Treatment She Needs, A Mother Fights to Legalize Medical Cannabis

By Kathryn Bullington – Lolly Bentch-Myers is a mother of three and full-time activist with Pennsylvania’s Campaign4Compassion. Her daughter, Anna, has Mesial Temporal Sclerosis, a brain condition that causes intractable epilepsy, insomnia, and autism. There are not many options for kids like Anna, or moms like Lolly.

Lolly has been entrenched in a battle with the Pennsylvania legislature to gain legal access to medical cannabis for Anna, and others who can benefit from medical cannabis.

A June 2015 Franklin and Marshall poll showed that 87% of PA residents approve of medical marijuana. Another poll of PA physicians by the North East Journal of Medicine showed 96% of surveyed Pennsylvania doctors support cannabinoid options for their patients.

If the 87% of citizens and the physicians who support this bill would contact their representatives, this bill would pass.

With all of this support, why can’t the legislation pass?

Lolly said the problem getting this legislation through largely falls on apathetic citizens.

“Our house is broken.” she says, “If the 87% of citizens and the physicians who support this bill would contact their representatives, this bill would pass.”

In the meantime, Lolly and other parents and patients in Campaign4Compassion are doing the hard work of lobbying government, and the people.

She started her journey doing research and writing her legislators, encouraging them to support medical marijuana bills. A letter she got back from one representative quipped, “Sorry, but I don’t condone 5 year olds smoking pot.” Bentch-Myers was discouraged, but she says, after the Sanjay Gupta documentary on CNN, she thought she might get more traction.

Shortly after seeing the documentary Lolly saw another mom talking about medical marijuana on the news. She made contact and began her journey as an activist with other concerned parents and patients.

“We really are a close knit community,” she said. “Some people think this is about getting high, but that is not the case. This is about getting well.”

Lolly said a key to her successes has been kindness, and building broad bipartisan support.

“It is crucial in Pennsylvania to have a large network of support from the Republican Party,” she explained.

About half of the sponsors of Senate Bill 3 are Republicans. Legislation passed the state Senate overwhelmingly in the summer of 2015, with a 40-7 vote. It then moved to the House where Speaker Mike Turzai (R) placed the bill in the Health Committee. The bill then stalled, as Health Committee Chair Matt Baker (R) flatly refused to bring the bill up for a vote, saying if passed, the bill would do more harm than good.

Baker’s actions were arguably predictable, as he said himself:

“I’ve had marijuana bills in my committee for years, and I’ve never moved them. This should come as no surprise to anyone.”

To Baker, it is not a matter of what the people want, but of what is right. He told the Morning Call, “Chairmen have a higher level of responsibility to make decisions on which bills are meritorious and ready to be voted upon.”

Baker made it clear that he would not circumvent Federal or FDA approval of medical marijuana by allowing his state to make a vote on the issue. Voting on the issue, he said, would put a medical matter in the hands of legislators. He hinted that others might find a way to bring the vote anyway.
That is exactly what happened.

Lolly explained the emotional legislative relay that ended with the de facto death of PA Senate Bill 3:

Nick Miccarelli (R) filed a discharge resolution to get SB 3 out of Baker’s committee and to the floor for a vote. As Miccarelli was ready to be called to follow through with his discharge, Baker moved to adjourn the session, and called a Healthcare Committee meeting. Baker’s committee then voted to move SB 3 to the Rules Committee, effectively killing Miccarelli’s discharge resolution.

At least the bill was out of Baker’s hands. Supporters had a bit of hope. The Rules Committee, headed by Dave Reed (R), put together what Lolly described as “a class act bipartisan group who takes their job seriously” to study the issue and draft a new bill, or amendments.

Lolly said the group compiled “fantastic” recommendations, including a minimum of 25 growers, and an expanded conditions list. Unfortunately, none of the recommendations made it out of the Rules Committee, and after Speaker Truzai had an emotional breakdown, and walked out of a closed Republican caucus meeting on the bill, 197 amendments were piled onto SB 3.

Lolly fears that because of the unwieldy number of amendments on SB 3, the only way forward now was to craft a new bill, but Peter Schweyer (D), a member of the Rules Committee working group, told the Morning Call that the majority of the house supports the bill:

[quote_box_center]“There is a segment of the Republican caucus who will do everything to kill it, including Chairman Baker. But I also know a majority of House members support this, including a number of Republicans.

I think all of us put way too much time and energy into this to let it go away.”[/quote_box_center]

Lolly echoed Schweyer. She said, despite the barriers, most of the legislature has been a joy to work with, and, “I am very persistent. I am not going to quit. I have invested too much time to give up.”

She is looking forward to seeing this through so she can have the health care she needs for Anna, and spend less time as an activist and more time with her three kids.

Other citizens can help her and her cause, she says, by refusing to sign ballot petitions for legislators, unless they agree to support medical cannabis; visiting the Campaign4Compassion website to request a speaker for Rotaries and civic events, and calling the House of Representatives to voice their support.



This article was republished with permission from IVN.

IVN Prediction: Sanders, Trump Will Win Iowa – But Party Insiders Will Take the Delegates

Looking ahead to the Iowa Caucuses on Tuesday, February 1, IVN predicts that Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders will win their respective caucuses. However, IVN further predicts that the parties will find a way to take these wins away from them.

Every election year, IVN makes at least one prediction about the outcome of a major race. In 2012, IVN called Florida for Barack Obama before any other news outlet. In 2014, IVN projected that U.S. Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) was going to keep his seat in a hotly contested race against Republican Carl DeMaio.

This year, though the media reports a tight race going into the Republican and Democratic caucuses, IVN predicts that Trump and Sanders will take the popular vote and win their respective contests.

Both Trump and Sanders have strong support, not only from members of the Republican and Democratic parties, but from voters who are fed up with the status quo and feel disenchanted or disenfranchised by the current political system or cannot find a home in any political party.

The Republican leadership has frequently rebuked the candidacy of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is often at odds with the Democratic National Committee, which briefly denied him access to the party’s voter database in December and scheduled a limited number of debates on the weekend, an inconvenient time for a presidential primary debate.

This is why IVN further predicts that the parties will manipulate the private party rules that determine the allocation of delegates, including changing convention rules or going against the will of caucus voters, to make sure Sanders and Trump don’t get to eat the fruits of their victories.

It wouldn’t be the first time the parties have stepped in to alter the outcome in the nomination process.

In the 2012 Iowa Republican Presidential Caucus, Ron Paul officially came in third. However, Paul — who had a very similar appeal with voters as Trump and Sanders — had a different strategy than just winning votes. Paul’s grassroots-driven campaign encouraged supporters to remain at their polling location after the vote in order to become county delegates — the first step toward becoming a delegate at the national level.

[quote_right]IVN predicts that the parties will manipulate the private party rules that determine the allocation of delegates … to make sure Sanders and Trump don’t get to eat the fruits of their victories.[/quote_right]
Unlike his primary opponents, Ron Paul played the delegate game, aimed at caucus states, and he played it well. However, reports suggest that various state Republican parties and the Republican National Committee blocked several Ron Paul delegates, either by unseating them or replacing them at the Republican National Convention.

Party leaders argued that Paul hadn’t secured a majority of the popular vote in any of the primary states, and therefore didn’t deserve the nomination. The party leadership also changed the rules during the 2012 convention to allow the RNC to change convention rules between conventions without the say of party delegates.

Fast forward to the present. Donald Trump is leading in Iowa and several states. While many did not treat him seriously in the beginning of his campaign, it is beginning to sink in that Trump could very well win the nomination if he is able to mobilize his support on the ground.

It is indeed possible that the race for the Republican nomination could last until the Republican National Convention, and there have been reports that elected officials and party leaders within the Republican Party have met to discuss forcing a brokered convention, which happens when no single candidate has secured a majority of party delegates headed into the convention.

Since the party has already shown that they can unseat and replace delegates at will — regardless of how voters cast their ballot — an argument can be made that an unsatisfied Republican establishment may insist that such tactics be used to prevent Trump from winning the party’s presidential nomination.

In short, the argument from the parties will be flipped this year from their respect for the popular vote in 2012. Delegate rules will matter and the popular vote will be underplayed, away from the public discussion in the media.

Just like the Republican Party, for Bernie Sanders and the Democrats, it will all come down to the delegate count at the Democratic National Convention. However, unlike the Republican Party, the Democratic Party has superdelegates, chosen from elected officials and party leaders in each state, who can commit to any candidate they want, regardless of how primary and caucus voters vote.

According to a report on IVN, more than half of the party’s 712 superdelegates have already decided who they plan to support at the national convention — 359 of whom said they plan to vote for Clinton.

“With more than half of the superdelegates already intending to vote for her, Clinton is beginning the contest with a 15 percent head start in the effort to win the 2,382 delegates needed to have majority support at the July convention — and not a single primary vote has been cast yet,” writes IVN independent author Andrew Gripp.

In total, 30 percent of the conventions delegates can commit to a candidate with or without the support of their state’s voters, meaning Democratic leaders have significant control over who ends up winning the nomination. By using convention rules and these superdelegates, the Democratic Party could easily ensure Bernie Sanders does not get the nomination.

For any dissenting voice or candidate who challenges the will of the Republican and Democratic parties, the deck is already heavily stacked against them. In the end, the parties may decide that it doesn’t matter what primary and caucus voters think because the system currently places the interests of two private organizations ahead of the will of voters.

And as the courts have decided over and over again, the party nomination proceedings are private. So the will of the public, nor the courts, can stop the party from changing the rules to protect their preferred candidates.



This article was republished with permission from IVN.

IVN Interview: Gary Johnson Calls 2016 a ‘Tipping Point’ for Independents

By Glenn Davis – Last week amid considerable speculation, former New Mexico governor and 2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, formally announced his bid for the 2016 Libertarian Party nomination. In an exclusive interview for IVN, he clarified his announcement and ambitions for his 2016 campaign.

Gary Johnson is known for a wide range of accomplishments as an entrepreneur, two-term governor, marijuana advocate, and extreme athlete. To pave the way for his presidential bid, he resigned as CEO of Cannabis Sativa, Inc. – a position he recently described as his “dream job.”

So why aim for an even loftier goal of becoming president?

“I have a great life. I don’t need to be president. But I do need – and want – to alter the course the nation is on under the leadership of the past couple of decades,” Johnson said of his objectives.

His first hurdle is securing the Libertarian nomination. There are at least ten others vying to be the LP candidate, including computer security pioneer John McAfee.

[easy-tweet tweet=”2016 LP candidate @GovGaryJohnson wants to alter the course of the nation.” user=”TheCPlan” hashtags=”election”]

The LP endorsement is an open, competitive process, a process which Johnson believes in.

“I’ll have to earn the nomination,” he confirmed, adding that he is the candidate most capable of “providing a voice on the national stage.”

He means that literally.

The Libertarian National Committee is a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit to change the rules that obstruct third party candidates from participating in presidential debates. While the court decision is still pending, Johnson says movement is expected in the next few weeks.

“We believe we have a strong case, and that we will not only prevail, but in the process, expose the Commission on Presidential Debates as the partisan, rigged organization that it is,” he remarked.

Having a podium on the national debate stage is crucial to his success, suggesting that 2016 may be a “tipping point” in the viability of independent candidates.

Johnson believes that, like himself, the majority of voters are fiscally conservative and socially liberal. He elaborated:

[quote_box_center]“There are literally millions of Americans today who are libertarians, but frankly don’t know it. Their beliefs align with ours, and they just need a political home. We must make the LP that home.”[/quote_box_center]

And Johnson is not holding back against the current field of Democratic and Republican candidates. According to Johnson, “a majority of Americans now say that neither of the two ‘major’ parties represents them,” citing little difference among Obama, Clinton, and the Republicans.

Hillary Clinton, Johnson explained, “might well surpass President Obama when it comes to spending and increasing the debt.”

“Voters have just as much to fear and oppose from Clinton as they do the Republicans,” he added

Regarding the Republican candidates, “despite their attacks on one another, when you wade through the rhetoric, there is really very little difference among them,” Johnson stated, adding:

[quote_box_center]“Donald Trump may well be bringing some new ‘anti-establishment’ voters into the equation, but that is more a matter of style than substance. On the issues, none of the Republicans are bringing any new ideas to the conversation.”[/quote_box_center]

He previously expressed that Trump’s intentions are “just whacked… crazy.”

Johnson hopes that he and the LP will benefit from this.

“Our job is to connect with those voters and give them a credible, viable alternative,” he explained.

Where will his votes come from? In his announcement, Johnson asserted that “Libertarians draw as many votes from Democrats as they do from Republicans.” But conventional wisdom may suggest otherwise. When asked specifically whether he will draw votes from an already fragmented Republican electorate, he responded, “I certainly hope so.”

He added:

[quote_box_center]“It is clear that not just Republicans, but Americans across the board are rejecting the status quo. I believe 2016 has the potential to be historic in terms of the door being open for a candidate other than the Republican and Democrat to gain substantial support. Our job is to connect with those voters and give them a credible, viable alternative.”[/quote_box_center]

What will constitute success?

“I want to win, and I want to serve,” answered Johnson. But he also sees success in shifting the debate and reshaping American politics, citing the examples of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.

“If we change the course of the nation and restore liberty as the true American value, it will be a job well done,” he said.

Dream job or not, the presidency would be quite an achievement for Gary Johnson. But are voters truly ready to affirm his rejection of the status quo on Election Day? As Johnson maintained, “the only wasted vote is a vote for a candidate one doesn’t really believe in.”



This article was republished with permission by IVN

Gaming the Public: The Parties’ Dirty Secret About Corruption in Politics

By Steve Hunyar – Republican and Democratic politicians alike hold one dirty strategy close to the vest when it comes to the majority of the funds they receive throughout their political campaigns and their terms in office.

Many Republicans are fond of pointing fingers at political corruption in the Democratic ranks when public and private unions contribute lobbying dollars in overwhelming numbers to Democrats. We hear the usual litany of comments trying to convince Americans that Democratic politicians are in the pockets of the unions and their leaders.

Many Democrats are equally fond of pointing fingers at political corruption in the GOP ranks which stems from corporate lobbying dollars. We get their incessant comments trying to convince Americans that Republican politicians are in the pockets of the corporations and their boards.

Lots of postured finger points — even more money changing hands.

And many partisan Americans on both sides, left and right, lap it up and play right into the strategy. Incessant claims of corruption. Ad nauseam assertions of influence peddling. Right versus left. Democrats hating Republicans and vice versa. Chest puffery; fist slamming bravado.

Erstwhile, the politicians laugh all the way to the bank as their ‘divide and conquer’ strategy works to near perfection and it’s continued business as usual. For continued favors to their lobbying benefactors, the money pours voluminously into their campaign coffers.

In occasional grand schemes of contrition, policymakers pass laws to make it seem like they are equally angered by the financial manipulation — claiming that most of their colleagues are accepting these legal bribes, but never them. And these laws, such as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (McCain-Feingold), are eventually found to be unconstitutional and are overturned. Back to business as usual. Ah, but they look good trying to make it seem like they are fighting the corruption.

[pull_quote_right]Without the politicians standing there with their palms extended outward and upward, there would be no lobbying.[/pull_quote_right]

For all of the grandstanding and posturing, there is one simple truth. It is the politicians that are creating the demand for the supply.

We can blame anything and everything. However, without the politicians standing there with their palms extended outward and upward, there would be no lobbying, no lobbying dollars, and no influence peddling. Unions and corporations would not allocate lobbying dollars, if not for the greed and corruption of the politicians themselves.

Lobbyists and the entire lobbying industry would be sunsetted if politicians simply agreed to not fund their campaigns with monies other than directly from the public. The problem is no politician, nor candidate with political aspirations, wants to risk losing for a lack of funding, so it’s business-as-usual.

At a time when America has become inestimably divided, this is a rallying cry most would support.

We need a new breed of independent candidates who are willing to lead the charge and disregard any group that is eager to finance their run for office; candidates and politicians who do not rely on any special interest group other than the individual constituents they serve.

In today’s technological era, candidates use social media to easily reach out beyond the confines of their voting precincts and collect from anyone in the U.S. that wishes to contribute. They could also easily limit the amounts they receive from individuals – regardless of laws – putting purity back into their campaigns.

If they owe no one, they can vote their conscience and truly represent their voters. Politics would be radically overhauled on every level.

Alas, this will never happen as long as We the People do not demand it. As long as We the People do not recognize this divide and conquer strategy, we will never collectively see through the fog of division and derision, and demand real change.

If you take anything from my thesis, please understand the current quid pro quo politics would not exist if not for the contemptible corruption and greed of the politicians themselves. Blaming the unions and the corporations for attempting to influence politicians is a waste of time and a fabricated distraction.

We are being played.



Republished with permission from IVN.

Politics and Football: Why Our Blind Allegiance to One Team Can Ruin the Whole Game

By Brian Hasenbauer – With football season and the Republican/Democratic primaries in full swing, conversations about politics and football are everywhere and it’s hard to stay out of the discussions. This got me thinking about the similarities between football and politics.

In football, everyone cheers for their own team and thinks regardless of how bad they are or how they are doing they are the best!

Some have been cheering for that team since they were young and saw their parents cheering for them and never thought much of it. They became fans simply because their parents where fans of that team.

Some discovered their team later in life or in the college years when sports becomes more important to social activities but these favorite teams last with most of us for our lifetime and can’t be easily changed regardless of how well your team is doing or the opinions of others.

Growing up I had a few different teams that I rooted for as my dad was in the Navy and we moved around frequently. My parents were from upstate New York and many of those in the area were Buffalo Bills fans which became my first team.

Later we moved to Rhode Island and I became a New England Patriots fan but that didn’t last long as we moved to Spain and things changed.

When you live on a military base overseas things are a little different than life state-side and I can remember one team being the favorite team of most families living on the base. America’s Team was that team, the Dallas Cowboys!

Overseas there were not many games we could see in the 1970s as we were still receiving VHS tapes from friends to keep up with Greatest American Hero, but for some reason the one game we would see would be on Thanksgiving and it was always the Cowboys. So I became a fan and after my dad was stationed at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. things were solidified when I lived in enemy territory – Redskin territory.

When I showed up to 5th grade at Chapel Square I can remember my new friends mocking me and telling me how stupid I looked in my blue and gray Cowboys t-shirts every time I wore them.

I soon found out that even when the Redskins or any of my friends’ teams were not doing well, they still thought their team was the best and no opinions could sway their minds. It doesn’t matter what your team’s record is or the point in the season, no other team can compare.

This happens even when your team is down or going through a rough patch. You can’t see how any other team can be ranked higher and don’t understand why everyone doesn’t like your team or appreciate them as you do. You simply can’t understand what’s wrong with everyone else.

Comparisons to Politics

When seeing some of the posts and “discussions” in the media and Facebook regarding any number of issues regarding politics or religion, I have seen a number of similarities between football and politics.

[pull_quote_right]Similar to allegiance to a favorite football team, those who identify ‘strongly’ with either major party show this same blind allegiance to their party.[/pull_quote_right]

Chief among these similarities is the fact that once you have a mindset or certain set of beliefs, no amount of evidence will sway your opinion. Not to stereotype everyone in this same mold but that’s what I’ve witnessed and experienced.

Similar to allegiance to a favorite football team, those who identify “strongly” with either major party show this same blind allegiance to their party. It doesn’t matter what the issue is or how things are going, that’s their team and that’s where their allegiance lies.

Graduating from one of the largest Division I schools without a football team (George Mason University), I have a different viewpoint on college football for sure and like to think I can remain nonpartisan with most issues.

It’s for this reason I strongly identify with being an independent as I define myself as socially liberal and fiscally conservative or what some would call “a political unicorn.” Looking for solutions and embracing new ideas regardless of the origin is the way I like to think of my political ideology.

Back to Football…

Football you would think would be a little clearer cut with losing and winning records and statistics. It should be easier for the fans with teams with winning records to be the most vocal about their teams’ chances and those with losing records to agree and possibly even cheer for another team when there’s isn’t playing.

This simply doesn’t happen.

No middle ground is found and you typically don’t hear someone say about another team that they look great and should easily win. No, they just defend their own team and create reasons and arguments why the teams with better records aren’t so great and why their team is still in it.

I’m a Cowboy fan; they are 3-8 and don’t stand much of a chance at making the playoffs. I’m a realist and can see this even though my Sunday’s will now be ruined for the rest of the year.

I’m not going to start cheering for the Redskins or Giants but I’ve certainly realized and can understand that my team is not going to be in the Super Bowl and can appreciate the other teams left in the hunt for the Super Bowl.

Is this middle ground? Is this giving up on my feelings and passion regarding my team? No, I’m still as passionate about the Cowboys, but I am a realist and understand that it’s not their year and can see that another team is probably better suited to win this Super Bowl this year.

[pull_quote_right]In order to stay in the conversation you choose a team, the team you dislike the least.[/pull_quote_right]

Where is the common ground in politics or religion? With opposing viewpoints on most issues it’s difficult for opposing sides to see any common ground or points of meaningful discussion and the conversations become filled with hatred and spite for the opposing view. There is simply no middle ground.

In football, in a way middle ground is watching the Super Bowl where millions of people around the world choose one of two teams and cheer for teams they normally wouldn’t.

The presidential election is the Super Bowl of politics and just as many Americans whose candidates didn’t make it to the final two, we choose a side and cheer for the one that for most of us we dislike the least. It’s the lesser of two evils.

Let’s face it… when your team isn’t in the Super Bowl, no other team can compare, but in order to stay in the conversation you choose a team, the team you dislike the least.

This is true with the presidential race as well. For most of us, no candidate meets every single criterion you would like in a candidate and you make a compromise by voting for the lesser of two evils. In a two-party system, there is no viable alternative and this choice must be made if you still want to be involved in the conversation.

Unfortunately, many who identify with one party or the other will only vote party line and can’t find a middle ground on any issues. Considering there are not many options but one of the lesser evils, you vote your party line.

Common Ground

After writing this I more deeply understand the allegiance to certain teams but what I still can’t grasp is the blind allegiance to political parties that don’t represent the majority of Americans or understand how we continue to have the same two teams in the Political Super Bowl each year. We need a viable third party that can be more representative of an American populace that has become frustrated with the partisan bickering and lining of lobbyists pockets in a corrupt political system.

We need leaders willing to fight for the common man and woman and free us all from political parties that care more about tearing each other down than lifting up the American people.

It’s time we come together, look for solutions to our challenges as a country and have discussions and debates that focus on issues and not parties or personalities. It’s only by putting country first that we can fight terrorism, tackle the national debt, balance the budget, secure our country’s borders and return to being the undisputed leading super power in the world.

To make this happen, it will probably take an act of terror as never seen before to truly galvanize America once again to meet these challenges we face. And it’s only when we can truly come together as a nation that we can tackle poverty in our own country, build our education system into one that’s world class, and modify our immigration policies to ensure our safety while welcoming a highly skilled workforce to help support our aging and declining workforce.

We can do this if we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. If we can’t come together as a nation for a common good and end the partisan infighting, we will no longer be the world’s last best hope for peace and prosperity and could possibly relinquish that title to China or Russia.

It’s a choice our leaders can make and regardless of what team you are cheering for, you owe it to yourself and your country to tell your elected officials that you are tired of nothing being accomplished and call for change.

Trump Says He May Boycott Next Debate if CNN Doesn’t Give Him $5 Million

By Thomas A. Hawk USA Today reported late Monday that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed demanding $5 million from CNN or he would not participate in the next debate during a campaign stop in Macon, Georgia.

Trump says CNN hasn’t treated him properly even though his celebrity has been responsible for increased viewership on the network. He cited CNN’s last debate in September, which brought in an audience of 23 million people.

“’CNN had 23 million people. It was the biggest show in the history of CNN,’ Trump said. And the billionaire businessman is reopening negotiations over whether he will lend his star power to the debate the network is hosting Dec. 15,” USA Today reports.

[pull_quote_center]“How about I tell CNN that I’m not gonna do the next debate?” Trump asked the crowd.

“I won’t do the debate unless they pay me $5 million, all of which money goes to the Wounded Warriors or to vets,” Trump said, following a segue into how people who are “really, really, really smart like I am,” don’t need teleprompters.

Trump was particularly stung by what he felt was unfair coverage of his closed-door meeting with African-American ministers earlier Monday.[/pull_quote_center]

Though he said he didn’t want to point fingers at any specific pundits, he did name drop one big one:

“Guys like Karl Rove. He spends hundreds of millions of dollars on campaigns, he wins nothing. There are some people that are losers,” he said.

The purpose of these debates is supposed to give voters an opportunity to learn about the candidates and where they stand on important issues, but many of them have been far from that.

Regardless of what you think of this, Trump sees what these debates have become — ratings-driven entertainment, and he is an entertainer.

If Trump moved forward with this demand, he would likely be widely criticized for it. However, to maximize its audience, can CNN come out right now and say it wouldn’t pay it? Who would blink first?

CNN is scheduled to host the next GOP primary debate on Tuesday, December 15.


This article was republished with permission of IVN.

IVN: 5 Politicians Taking A Stand Against More Surveillance After Paris

By Carl Wicklander  Since the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13, various mainstream news outlets have noted that the politics of surveillance have shifted. A shift would indicate that instead of rolling back surveillance policies in favor of more privacy, more invasive policies could be enacted.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio used the attacks to accuse fellow Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Rand Paul of forcing a “weakening of our intelligence-gathering capabilities” that ultimately “leaves America vulnerable.” Yet despite this shift, there are still at least 5 politicians who remain consistent about surveillance after Paris.

1. U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (MI-03)

On Twitter, Amash, a noted critic of surveillance policies, wrote of Rubio’s support for a bill to extend the bulk collection of metadata that was a key provision of the Patriot Act:

.just cosponsored bill to extend unconstitutional spying on all Americans. He’d fit right in with GOP of past.

2. U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (KY-04)

The Kentucky representative told ABC News over Thanksgiving weekend how the immediate aftermath of a tragedy is the time when the government tries to capitalize on citizens’ fears to expand its power:

“Within six weeks of 9/11 they passed the Patriot Act. And it’s only natural they would try to do the same thing this time.”

3. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (KY)

Calling the argument that the Paris attacks required more surveillance “bullshit,” Sen. Paul also noted that surveillance policies of the past and present did not stop the Paris attacks:

“They are collecting your phone records as we speak, they did not miss a beat, even though we voted on reform, all your phone records are being collected and stored in Utah. Did it stop the attack in Paris? No.”

4. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (TX)

One of the candidates attacked by Rubio for opposing Patriot Act bulk collections, Cruz responded that his rival:

“…is trying to respond to the criticism that he has received that he is not willing to protect the Fourth Amendment privacy rights of law-abiding citizens.”

Separately, Cruz posted one of his endorsements on Twitter which noted his role in passing the USA Freedom Act:

“[Cruz] will use every tool we have to win, but he will never betray the very Constitution we are sworn to defend.”

Even before its passage, there was fierce debate about how much privacy the Freedom Act provided Americans, but Cruz’s positions have indicated that more surveillance is not the answer.

5. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (OR)

The Oregon Democrat has long been a critic of Washington’s surveillance policies. Echoing some of the sentiments of Paul and Massie, Wyden explained that broadly-defined powers are not even effective, which was also the case in France where an aggressive surveillance law was passed following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January:

“While some people seem eager to seize on this crisis to resurrect failed policies of the past, the facts show mass surveillance doesn’t protect us from terrorist attacks.”



Republished with permission by IVN.

IVP to Challenge Taxpayer Funding of Party Central Committee Elections

In light of recent court precedent that insulates political parties from any form of regulation by the state, the Independent Voter Project (IVP) is challenging the public funding and administration of party central committee elections.

California state law provides that a county registrar shall conduct party central committee elections at the request of any qualified political party (see e.g., California Elections Code sections 7230 and 7425).

However, as the political parties have successfully argued in court, a party’s county central committee does not perform any governmental functions and membership in the committee is not a public office (see, Wilson v. San Luis Obispo County Democratic Central Committee 175 Cal. App. 4th 489, 500 (2009), holding that California Election Code provisions that seek to govern the composition of a party central committee violate the First Amendment rights of political parties and their members).

The California Supreme Court has also held that taxpayer funds shall not be disbursed unless “a direct and substantial public purpose is served and non-state entities are benefited only as an incident to the public purpose.” (California Housing Finance Authority v. Elliot 17 Cal. 3d 575, 583 (1976).)

In light of this precedent, the Independent Voter Project is asking all county registrars to refrain from expending any public resources for the administration of party central committee elections unless each political party requesting such administration first agrees to reimburse taxpayers for the full and fair public costs related thereto.

Read a draft of the letter HERE.

If you are from California and would like to sign the letter, CLICK HERE or fill out the form below.

If you are not a California voter, but would like to support similar efforts in your state, CLICK HERE.

IVN: 10 Ways Political Parties Control Your Vote

1. States Send Delegates to the Electoral College that Represent Parties, Not People

When envisioning the electoral college, the goal of the Founding Fathers was to send electors who were “free from any sinister bias” to select the next president.

“They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment.” – Federalist Paper 68

Today, however, electors are chosen because of their service, dedication, and loyalty to their political party. Most states have a ‘winner takes all’ electoral system, which presupposes that the electors cast their vote for president not “in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America,” but because they are bound by their party to vote in unison and loyalty to that party’s nominee.


2. Campaign Finance Laws Give Political Parties Special Exemptions Even in Nonpartisan Races

Political parties, through the legislatures they control, have written campaign finance laws to give their parties special advantages that no one else gets. In San Diego, for example, political parties are the only exception to the individual donation limits for local elections, even for offices and elections that are supposed to be nonpartisan. (See, San Diego Municipal Code § 27.2934(b) and § 27.2935(a) that allow parties (but no one else) to give $30,000 to an individual candidate.)

So how hard is it for someone to funnel money through a political party to simply skirt the individual donation limits?

In local elections, this imbalance makes it nearly impossible for those without major political party affiliations to compete, even in supposedly nonpartisan elections.

3. Gerrymandering: Parties Draw District Lines to Insulate Themselves from Competition

Gerrymandering is the act of selectively drawing district boundaries so that voters of the opposing party are crammed into a small number of districts, allowing the party in power to win virtually every other district with impunity. An effective gerrymander will trap one party in a small number of safe districts, after which the other party spreads its voters out over the rest of the state. A tell-tale sign of a gerrymander is a district with mind-bogglingly shaped boundaries.

Often, both parties work together to draw districts so that as many elections as possible are made “safe” for the political parties in power. This is why approximately 90% of elections today are ‘decided’ in the primary.

Statistically, gerrymandering helped ensure that around 94% of House elections in 2014 were noncompetitive, meaning that only 6% of general elections even mattered. This means, if you couldn’t vote in the major party’s primary, you never really had a voice in the election at all.

Voters in some states have tried to fight back, however, by creatingindependent redistricting commissions through the initiative process. But the fate of these commissions might be in danger:

Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature, for example, filed a lawsuit against its citizen redistricting commission, arguing Arizona’s voters didn’t have the power to take away the drawing of districts from the legislators in power. A ruling by the Supreme Court could result in the dismantling of the independent commissions in Arizona and five other states.

4. Taxpayers Fund Primary Elections that Benefit Private Parties

Believe it or not, when the closed primary system was originally enacted, it was a democratic reform: it offered a publicly-administered alternative to the smoke-filled room selection process by party bosses. The direct primary was an attempt to democratize the process by forcing parties to deal with their in-party controversies under the watchful eyes of the public.

Nevertheless, closed primaries serve a private purpose: to select candidates that represent the members of a political party. And, each year, fewer and fewer voters identify with either major political party. And each year, fewer and fewer voters participate in the primary elections as a result. And finally, although only party members are allowed to participate in closed primaries, taxpayers foot the bill for these elections.

5. The Media Discusses Issues Not Based on Merit, But on the Two Major-Party Positions

Let’s face it: we have two political parties that are the sole source of political competition. As a consequence, we’ve divided our political discussions into a two-sided debate between the red team and the blue team.

A Pew Research Center study published in October 2014, for example, shows that the media can be divided into separate echo chambers for each team. These teams of people rely on separate groups of news sources, with little overlap elsewhere in how they gain their information. They are likely to consult with like-minded individuals and like-minded news channels, at the exclusion of other sources of information. Consistent conservatives are more likely to have friends that share their views, while consistent liberals are more likely to end a personal friendship or remove someone from their social media network due to differing beliefs.

Just recently, a recent study by the University of Kansas confirms that 41% of voters are only concerned with their party “winning” an election than being right on a given issue. It is of little wonder, then, that mainstream media channels play into their viewers’ easily identifiable and inherent political biases: It keeps them coming back for more.

6. Parties Are Directly Involved in Administering Elections

Although elections are supposed to offer an organized system by which we elect representatives, even the minutiae of that system is controlled by major parties. For example, in many districts of New York, citizens cannot be poll workers unless they are members of one of the two major parties.

There is even a growing body of scholarly work addressing how parties have hijacked the inner workings of the election system. This law review article from Gilda Daniels, a professor at the University of Baltimore, details how states have slowly outsourced election administration to both major political parties, often leading to patently illegal activities, such as voter suppression, voter caging, and voter intimidation.

7. Chief State Election Officials Are Appointed by Parties

[quote_left]”What if we suggested that the election process was supposed to serve the fans of the entire league, and not just the two teams on the field.”[/quote_left]

Thirty-six states have partisan secretaries of state or lieutenant governors who oversee the public election process. And thirty-two states have no restrictions on the partisan activity of its election officers. Of those with restrictions, many of them are slight, such as restricting election officers from holding another public office.

The dangers of having partisan election administrators are not trivial. As leading election law scholar Rick Hasen explains, election overseers aligned with both major parties routinely implement policies that hamstring voters from the other party.

In short, states have routinely implemented electoral systems that put a conflict of interest between a voter’s right to fair and secure elections and a political party’s pursuit of power.

Imagine if the umpire at a baseball game was actually on one of the two teams!

What if we suggested that the election process was supposed to serve the fans of the entire league, and not just the two teams on the field.

8. Parties Write Laws That Directly Limit The Ability of Opposing Voters to Cast Their Votes

Across the nation, the major political parties have written laws that keep voters that do not support them away from the polls. Parties have successfully closed previously open primaries, shifted power from primaries to caucuses, implemented voter ID laws, limited early voting days, and even restricted the ability of get-out-the-vote organizations to register new voters.

In fact, party-affiliated poll watchers in some states have the power to confront individual voters about their registration or citizenship and thereby invalidate their vote. Challenges in the courts to such broad voting restrictions, as one would expect, are ever so commonplace. And many of them — such as these challenges on voter ID laws — are unsuccessful.

Predictably, voter turnout has decreased as political parties have exerted more control over the process. Less voters in the party primaries means that only the most dedicated and party-faithful voters are left.

When only the party faithful are left voting, only the party faithful are represented. That leaves us with more partisan legislators who have an interest in enacting more partisan laws.

9. Parties Appoint the Judiciary and Control Judicial Elections

Although there are various methods of appointing judges, they are all centered around the political parties’ power. Seven states have partisan judicial nominations. Many other states leave their judges to the mercy of political-party influence: partisan elections are used in twenty states for local trial court judges, nine states also elect judges for courts of appeal, and seven states elect judges for state supreme courts.

These judges face pressure to make judicial decisions to win votes and special interest groups to raise funds. Justice Pariente of the Florida Supreme Court explains that a politicized justice system endangers “our right to appear before impartial judges who are neither bought nor bullied.”

Even the most powerful judicial body in the United States, the Supreme Court, along with all other federal judges, are appointed by the President and approved by Congress. This has made the Supreme Court so motivated by partisan influence that the justices are routinely categorized as “liberal” or “conservative.”

This influence over the judicial appointment process gives political parties an inordinate foothold in another process that is supposed to be completely nonpartisan.

10. Other Benefits

Additionally, political parties are tax exempt, receive discounted postage rates, and have free access to voter registration records. Historical voting records, for example, give partisan political operatives the ability to identify and ‘turn out their base’ much easier than nonpartisan candidates.

For the presidential election, the two major parties control the debate process (and in turn the public discourse). This is because the Commission for Presidential Debates is controlled exclusively by Republicans and Democrats who have made it nearly impossible for third parties or independent candidates to participate. In particular, the threshold to participate in the major debates requires support from 15% of likely voters based on the results of three major polls. But how can a candidate be expected to gain that much support among the electorate if he or she can’t even enter the televised debates or otherwise be heard by the American people?

Unsurprisingly, the 15% requirement has become a topic of much debate and is being challenged by multiple groups, including Gary Johnson’s Our America Initiative and

Closing Remarks

Private political parties have managed to influence nearly every aspect of our public election process. As a result, both major parties have managed to insulate themselves from meaningful competition, leading to an increasingly divisive political climate in which candidates are forced to toe the party line.


This story originally appeared on IVN and written by Daniel Kim.

VIDEO: How Partisan Primary Elections Violate Your Right to Vote

Whether you support political parties or not, one thing we should all agree on is that the public election process should serve voters.

Over the course of our history, voter discrimination has taken many forms. Today, both parties have engaged in a “voting rights” debate related to “voter access” and “voter fraud.” But rarely do we ask fundamental questions about the process itself, like why do our representatives seem to serve their party more than the voters in the first place?

The Independent Voter Project produced a short video explaining the power the two major parties have over the voting process in many states:

Note: This post originally published on IVN News on September 30, 2015.