Tag Archives: Third Parties

Bill Weld Sues to End Winner-Take-All in Massachusetts Presidential Elections

Former Republican Massachusetts Governor and Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate Bill Weld filed a suit Wednesday in Boston federal court challenging the constitutionality of Massachusetts’ winner-take-all election system. He says the system disenfranchises third and minority party voters.

Under winner-take-all rules, which exist in 48 U.S. states, the presidential candidate that obtains the most votes in a state then receives all of the state’s electoral votes. In Maine and Alaska, electoral votes are attributed to the winners of each congressional district, allowing supporters of candidates who lost the state to get a degree of proportional representation in the Electoral College.

“The winner-take-all system under the Electoral College is at the heart of the unhealthy duopoly that plagues our national politics. It causes candidates and campaigns to ignore all but the ‘battleground’ states. It discards millions of votes for president every four years. Getting rid of the winner-take-all system will help Americans enjoy a broader range of choices for president than the narrow ‘either/or’ choice with which they’ve suffered for too long,” said Weld according to The Dallas Observer.

Weld’s Massachusetts lawsuit claims, “The predominant method in America for counting votes in presidential elections violates the United States Constitution; it also distorts presidential campaigns, facilitates targeted outside interference in our elections, and ensures that a substantial number of citizen voters are disenfranchised when their votes are tallied in early November, only to be discarded when it really counts in mid-December.”

According to The Republican, Weld’s suit comes as a part of a nationwide movement to end winner-take-all, with suits also filed in California, Texas, and South Carolina. The California version of the lawsuit includes Republican actor Paul Rodriguez as a plaintiff. The Texas suit names the League of United Latin American Citizens as a plaintiff, who argue that Texas electoral votes have not gone to a candidate supported widely by Latino and African American voters, who make up around 40 percent of the state’s population, since 1976.

The Boston Herald notes that in Massachusetts 9.6 million citizens have cast votes for non-Democratic candidates in the past 8 presidential elections, but all of the state’s electoral votes have gone to Democrats.

The plaintiffs of the lawsuits in four states have indicated that they do not intend to overturn the entire Electoral College system, just individual states’ winner-take-all methods of allocating electoral votes.

Weld’s suit claims that winner-take-all causes general election presidential candidates to avoid campaign stops in highly-partisan states such as Massachusetts. “As a result [of winner-take-all], candidates from major political parties rarely hold campaign events in Massachusetts once they are selected by their parties in the primary,” it reads. “This results in a reduced opportunity for all Massachusetts voters to interface with and petition the candidates for major political parties in person, and ‘to express their ideas, hopes, and concerns to their government and their elected representatives’ as is also protected by the Petition Clause of the First Amendment.”

Sanders Criticizes Two-Party System for Blocking Competition from Third Parties

At Thursday’s televised town hall among Democratic presidential candidates presented by MSNBC and Univision, Democratic presidential candidate and independent U.S. Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders was asked a question that touched on the viability of third parties under America’s de facto two-party electoral system.

During the town hall, first-time voter Aidan Char asked Sen. Sanders, “So seeing that it is — as it is nearly impossible for a third party candidate to be elected and the fact you had to switch from an Independent to Democratic to be considered as a legitimate candidate, since reformation of our party system has never been addressed by a presidential candidate, how would you suggest to reform our system and allow for other parties and ideas to be represented?

[RELATED: Illinois Libertarian Party Wins Ballot Access Fight in Federal Court]

Well, I probably know more about that issue than any human being in the United States of America,” replied Sanders. “You know, when I became mayor of the city of Burlington, I had to take on Democrats and Republicans and so forth. Your point is well taken. I chose to run, proudly, in the Democratic primary and caucus process and I look forward to winning that process, but clearly, as a nation, I think we flourish when there are different ideas out there, when there are more differences of opinions.

He continued, “If you go to Europe, for example, there are many, many political parties. Sometimes the two-party system makes it very, very difficult to get on the ballot if you are a third party, and I think that’s wrong. I think we should welcome competition, welcome different ideas. And I think the two parties should be open to making sure that people have a fair shake if they want to run on another party.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

According to The Hill, Sen. Sanders, a political independent who caucuses with Democrats, has served for longer than any other independent in the history of the U.S. Congress.

For context, in July of 2015 the Truth in Media Project released a Consider This video highlighting the fact that independent voters, who incidentally are forced to fund major-party presidential primary elections that often fail to represent them, now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uf26DKntwzM

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

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GOP County Chairman Says ‘Major Party Cartel’ Disenfranchises Indiana Third Parties

In an op-ed in Crawfordsville, Indiana’s Journal Review, Montgomery County Republican Party chairman John Pickerill denounced what he called a “major party cartel” between Republican and Democratic lawmakers that controls state election laws and grants special favors to major party candidates and voters at the expense of third parties.

Hoosiers have stood by and allowed our General Assembly to grant special privileges to the top two political parties, special privileges that all-but-guarantee leaders within those two parties will maintain a stranglehold on political power in our state,” wrote Pickerill.

State law defines a ‘Major Political Party’ as those two parties who got the most votes in the last election for Secretary of State. State law then hands entire control of our election system to these two parties.

Pickerill noted that only Republicans and Democrats can serve on or be employees of the Indiana Election Commission. He said that Republican and Democratic county chairmen “pick every county election board member and every poll worker.

Only [major party] members are allowed to be members of a recount commission, even if one of the candidates in the recount is a [non-major party] candidate. Is it any surprise that every statewide office is held by a [major party] member?” he said.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

Pickerill pointed out the fact that taxpayers, including supporters of third parties, are required to fund the top two parties’ primaries, which gives Republicans and Democrats an advantage in exposure over third parties.

He added, “Only major political parties get the special privilege to fill an office vacancy by precinct committeeman caucus. This guarantees if a [major party] officeholder is removed, resigns, or dies that his [party] gets to replace him with one of its own. But not true for any other party or independent. For example, if a Green Party county councilman resigned, the Green Party wouldn’t be allowed to pick his replacement. No, instead the other six county councilmen get to decide it. The flawed system encourages independents and third-party candidates to be weeded out.

Ballot Access News’ Richard Winger, a ballot access and election law expert, said that “[Pickerill] could have [also] mentioned the straight-ticket device, and the law that gives the two major parties the top spots on the ballot, and the ballot access laws [favoring major parties], but he didn’t mention those points.” Indiana’s straight-ticket device is a mechanism allowing voters the option of conveniently choosing all of the Republicans or Democrats on the ballot in one click.

Pickerill, who clarified that his opinions are his own and do not represent the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, said, “The Republican Party and Democratic Party pretend to have opposing views, but when you look past all the rhetoric there’s no significant difference in what they are really supporting. Neither party is serious about reigning in the size of government to constitutional constraints. Neither enacts anything more than token protection of civil liberties and economic liberties. Both create new schemes to interfere with the economy and enact more and more government programs.

Pickerill called for a judge to rule the biased election laws unconstitutional and said, “A political party should have to win voters over with the best ideas, not by rigging the system.

The Truth in Media Project recently released a Consider This video highlighting the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uf26DKntwzM

OK GOP Governor Signs Bill Making Third-Party Ballot Access Easier

“Today marks an important milestone in Oklahoma history — a day in which the state Legislature and governor not only acknowledged the harmful nature of Oklahoma’s ballot access laws, but also made an effort to ease that burden,” said a statement by the Libertarian Party, cited by The Oklahoman. On Tuesday, Republican Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed HB 2181, a bill that reduces the number of signatures required by independent parties in order to obtain recognized party status and ballot access from 5% of the number of people who voted in the last gubernatorial or presidential election to 3% of those who voted in the most recent gubernatorial contest. The new law is set to take effect on November 1 of this year.

A blog on the Libertarian Party’s website noted, “To get on the ballot in 2016 in Oklahoma, 24,712 valid signatures will be needed. Under the old standard, the amount would have been 41,188.” Libertarian Party staff said that Oklahoma’s outgoing 5% rule made it “one of the toughest states for ballot access.”

Oklahoma’s Republican Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman was one of the authors and initial sponsors of the bill. An op-ed in Tulsa World stated, “Hickman originally proposed bringing the number all the way down to 1 percent.”

Ballot Access News pointed out the fact that Governor Mary Fallin signed the bill within a day of it reaching her desk.

A statement by the Green Party, cited by The Oklahoman, said that the bill’s passage “opens up the possibility for progress towards greater political representation and participation” but that the Green Party will continue pushing for the signature requirement to be changed to 5,000.

Since the year 2000, no independent party has obtained official ballot access in Oklahoma such that a candidate could identify by that label on the ballot.

For more election coverage, click here.

Bipartisan Political Heavyweights Push for Third Party Inclusion in Presidential Debates


The Commission on Presidential Debates, a private group run by the Democratic and Republican parties, has controlled the US presidential debates since 1988. Given the fact that the major party duopoly runs the debate process, the CPD has effectively silenced third party candidates by setting an extremely strict rule for their inclusion which requires independent candidates to achieve 15% in 5 major public opinion polls prior to the debate, a feat requiring untold millions of dollars worth of advertising.

However, a group of elected officials and civic leaders, many of them card-carrying members of the Republican and Democratic parties, have launched a campaign called Change the Rule aimed at pressuring the CPD to adjust its rule to allow the top independent candidate who manages to attain ballot access in a sufficient number of states to achieve 270 electoral votes to participate in the presidential debates. This would allow voters to see the best-organized third party candidate who is on enough ballots to win the presidential election, which does effectively limit the number of candidates in the debate such that it would feature a Democrat, a Republican, and the third party candidate who attained the most signatures during the ballot access petition process.

Former prosecutor Alexandra Shapiro and Dr. Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, are spearheading Change the Rule, which includes a long list of political heavyweights. The group originally made its intentions known by sending a private letter to the CPD, but the organization’s dismissive response led them to go public with their initiative in an effort to turn on the heat.

Ex-FBI director Michael Hayden has signed on with Change the Rule, as has former Defense Secretary William Cohen and The Atlantic and National Journal publisher David Bradley. Jonathan Easley at The Hill wrote, “The list [of signatories] also includes former Govs. Bruce Babbitt (D-Ariz.), Jon Huntsman (R-Utah), Thomas Keane (R-N.J.), and Christine Todd Whitman (R-N.J.), former Sens. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), and former Reps. John Anderson (R-Ill.), Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), and Vin Weber (R-Minn.).”

Change the Rule’s private letter to the CPD read, “Because the current rule affords independent candidates no chance to get into the debates, it dissuades men and women with extraordinary records of service to this country from running for President… As a director of the CPD, you could ignore this complaint and wait for the ensuing legal process to play out. We think that would be a missed opportunity and an unfortunate mistake.” The legal process mentioned by Change the Rule may be a reference to a separate FCC complaint that has reportedly been filed against CPD.

The CPD responded to the controversy in comments to The Hill and said, “The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates reviews its candidate selection criteria every election cycle… The CPD will review its 2012 criteria in 2015 and appreciates the interest in these important voter education events.”