Third Party Ballot Access in Georgia

Here at Bludgeon & Skewer we are constantly reminded of the cruelties of the entrenched two party system here in Georgia. Did you know that my fair state has the most Draconian third party petition laws in the good old US of A? Through the ceaseless efforts of generations of Republicans and Democrats, ballot access is damn near impossible for a third party to obtain. My party, The Libertarian party has been qualified as something called a "Political Body" and is able to run candidates for statewide office like the Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, PSC races and the US Senate without petitioning, but not for State Senate or State House elections or the US House of Representatives. By Georgia law, a third parties only path to parity with the entrenched Republicans and Democrats is to either get 20% of the vote in the Governors race or 20% of the vote in the Presidential election. A tall order by any standard.

The injustice goes on. The Georgia law covering third parties was changed in 1943 to mandate that 5% of registered voters must sign a petition to qualify a third party candidate for a State Senate or State House run or a run at the US House of representatives. Those guys in the smoke filled backrooms did their job well, there hasn't been a third party candidate for the US House in Georgia that could meet the petition requirement since then. Imagine, locking out any competition for 66 years! A fine tribute to Democracy.

But it only gets better, did you know that of the 180 state races held in 2008, 141 of them were unchallenged! That's right, 141 State House seats and State Senate seats were not challenged by their "opposition" party. Smells like the smoke filled backroom is still in operation after all these years, a little wink, wink, nudge, nudge you don't run anybody against my boy, I won't run anybody against your boy and to hell with giving the people a choice. That's how it played out in 2008, 61 Democrats got a free ride and 82 Republicans coasted along as well. And the crop of newly "elected" politicians lived up to their own standards by not getting a damn thing done during their first session. No booze on Sunday, no transportation plan no nothing, except posturing for the 2010 cycle.

So if you're not happy with the status quo, if you want real change, effective change, change that means something and gets something done, what do you do? Do you let the entrenched two party system continue to dictate the terms, do you accept the decision made in 1943 to sideline all those uppity voters as something written in stone? Are you willing to continue to be  treated like chattel? What do you do?

Here at Bludgeon & Skewer we think we have the answer. We live in an age of marvels, people have pocket sized phones that don't need wires to connect, they got these little laptop things that let them communicate around the world with the touch of a button. Hell, people can pay their taxes over the internet, buy cars and property over the internet and see more nekkid women in 30 minutes than a guy living in 1870 could have seen in a lifetime. And the legislature of Georgia demands, demands I tell you, that anybody looking to exercise their political rights has got to trudge door to door in the hot June sun to collect signatures on a piece of paper! A freaking piece of paper!!

We propose that Georgia enter the 21st century and promote electronic petitioning at a much more reasonable level. To hell with 5% of the registered voters in a district, it should be more like 1% of the vote total for the prior election in the district in question. If there have to be petitions at all, they should apply to all registered political parties in Georgia. The Democrats cut a deal with Republicans to lay off each other? No problem, if they change their minds in the next cycle, they gotta petition too. Fair is fair.

While we're changing election law we might as well include a novel feature used by the Libertarian Party in it's nominating process at it's conventions. Good old "None of the Above". NOTA is a Libertarian concept whose time has come for the general electorate. If there is a unchallenged incumbent, and he really is a sack, the voter could select NOTA and prevent the bum from taking office.

Lots to ponder kids, more political fun from your friendly neighborhood Libertarian Community Organizer!