Category:Ballot Access

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Ballot Access -- Participatory Democracy

Via FairVote and Ballot Access News

References re Restrictive Ballot Access Laws

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Re: History of Ballot Access Laws

State regulation of third party ballot access is a relatively new phenomenon. Before 1880, ballots were provided by parties rather than by state governments. Because third parties could print their own tickets, minor parties were regular parts of American electoral politics. This changed in the late 19th century, however, with the introduction of the Australian ballot. Individual states, rather than political parties, were now responsible for producing the ballots. It fell on state governments to make decisions about precisely how many parties should qualify. “Thus, ballot access immediately became both an administrative and political question that the states had to resolve. Many states chose to utilize nominating petitions asthe means for deciding who deserved a spot on the ballot.”

For a political party to be on the ballot means that it has a designated spot assigned for each office to list its candidate. This enhances a party’s perceived legitimacy and demonstrates to voters that the candidates are a viable alternative, perhaps in contrast to the long-shot “write-in candidate.” At present, every state requires minor-party and independent candidates to collect signatures on nominating petitions and submit them to a state agency by a certain deadline to appear on the ballot. It is much easier for a candidate to run as a Libertarian in one race than it is for a third party such as theLibertarian Party to gain party recognition (and thus get slots in all races). Thus, this report will focus solely on the ability of actual parties to gain ballot access, rather than individual candidates who may or may not have a party affiliation. Opponents of expanded access offer several justifications for strict ballot access regulations. First, they claim a multitude of third party candidates could split the vote of the majority and lead to the election of a candidate that a majority of the voters actually dislike. If only two candidates are allowed on the ballot, though, at least the one that lacks majority support is never elected. Furthermore, if voters could vote in a primary for one candidate, and then sign a petition for another candidate, this would violate the one person, one vote mandate of Reynolds v. Sims. Some voters might even engage in strategic voting by signing a petition for the candidate they want, and then vote in the primary for the candidate who would be easier to beat. Supporters of third parties, who often favor less restrictive ballot access laws, believe that many problems are inherent in the two-party system and see third parties as a possible answer. Some believe that a two-party system is polarizing or anti-democratic and deprives voters of the ability to make an adequate electoral choice. Furthermore, some claim that because two party systems are so polarizing, few centrists are actually elected.

When public opinion polls show that 44 percent of New Hampshire citizens are undeclared or independent, a larger percentage than are either registered Democrats or Republicans, one might logically question the virtue of having such a polarized two-party system.

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'Death by a Thousand Signatures':

The Rise of Restrictive Ballot Access Laws and the Decline of Electoral Competition in the United States

This Article explores one instance of the countermajoritarian problem in American democracy: how to protect the rights of minor parties and independent candidates participating in an electoral system dominated by two major parties. In particular, this Article focuses on the effect of modern ballot access laws on candidates' rights, arguing that courts ought to treat these laws as a presumptively impermissible form of "collusion in restraint of democracy." Although the article borrows the language of antitrust law, this argument is rooted in core constitutional principles and rights guaranteed under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Nevertheless, the analogy to antitrust law is useful as a means to address the decline of electoral competition in the United States and its consequences for the democratic character of our government. Antitrust law also provides a legal framework for distinguishing between nonpartisan and bipartisan legislation, as the analogy helps distinguish between legitimate regulation of the political process by the state and collusion in restraint of democracy by the two major parties. Part II begins with a discussion of elections' function in a democracy, addressing the lack of electoral competition in the United States and identifying prominent anticompetitive features of American democracy, mainly modem ballot access laws. Part II provides a brief history of ballot access laws in the United States and an analysis of their justification. Part III analyzes the Supreme Court's modem ballot access jurisprudence, starting with the first minor party challenge to a modem ballot access law in 1968 and tracing the erosion of candidates' rights since then. Finally, Part IV sketches an approach to ballot access jurisprudence that offers greater protection to candidates' rights by analyzing ballot access laws according to the principles of antitrust law.

Center for Competitive Democracy -- -- see ALEC

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FairVote Policy Guide 2015 / US

FairVote's Policy Guide 2015 includes one page policy briefs for dozens of key proposals, along with resources for each, including model statutory language, sample letters of support, and more. These proposals represent the cutting edge in reforms for expanding suffrage, enhancing voter access, and protecting the right to a meaningful vote at all levels of government.


17 Year Old Primary & Caucus Voting

Automatic Voter Registration at High Schools & Colleges

Automatic Voter Registration

Election Day Holiday

Extending Voting Rights to 16 & 17 Year Olds

Youth Voter Pre-Registration

Restoring Voting Rights to Citizens with Past Convictions

Post Election Audit Standards

Ranked Choice Ballots for Military & Overseas Voters

Presidential Primary RCV Ballots for Military & Overseas Voters

Usability Testing of Ballots

Constitutional Right to Vote

Reasonable Ballot Access

High School Civics Curriculum

Civics Education: Mock Legislatures in Capitals

Districts Plus

Non-Partisan Ballot Labels

Presidential Nomination Reform

Ranked Choice Voting for At-Large Local Elections

Pilot Program: RCV in Multi-Seat Local Elections

State Voting Rights Act

Top Four Primarys with Ranked Choice Voting


This category has the following 14 subcategories, out of 14 total.








Media in category "Ballot Access"

The following 10 files are in this category, out of 10 total.