Thursday, March 06, 2008

Nader Campaign is about Ballot Access

Excellent piece today in Delaware Online by David McCorquodale:

"The News Journal chose to print a cartoon and an editorial critical of Ralph Nader's decision to run for president as an independent. A man who has spent his life defending the rights of consumers was trashed in the cartoon as a "bottom-feeder," as if he were somehow profiting from this decision. The editorial said he was "ruining his reputation."

"If it's a reputation for challenging the status quo, then Nader is adding to it. The editorial referred to the myth that Nader's campaign in 2000 gave George W. Bush the presidency. Al Gore actually did win that election, but Bush took the presidency by 537 votes. The Democratic Party allowed itself to be steamrolled.

"Here's the larger point about 2000. Isn't it possible that of the 95,000 votes Nader got in Florida, some people wouldn't have voted at all if Nader had not been on the ballot?

"One of the issues the Nader campaign will concentrate on is ballot access. His campaign in 2004 was hindered by the Democratic Party. In Pennsylvania, ballot petition signatures of the Nader campaign were challenged. When a court ruled in favor of the Democratic Party and denied Nader ballot status, it also charged the Nader campaign more than $100,000 in court costs, even though usually costs are only levied against frivolous lawsuits. It turns out most of the judges involved in this ruling had ties to the Democratic law firm that filed suit.

"In 2006, the Green Party of Pennsylvania saw a similar effort to deny ballot access when U.S. Senate candidate Carl Romanelli had most his petition signatures ruled invalid by Democratic judges and was fined $80,000. He faces the possibility of jail because of his inability to pay this fine, levied because he sought to run for political office.

"Is this country fated to choose only between Republican and Democratic candidates? Those parties and the media certainly seem to be conspiring to limit choices.

"There is a better way. Instant run-off voting would allow voters to rank their choices when more than two candidates are on the ballot. The candidate with the least number of votes would be eliminated and the second choices of voters would be assigned votes. This process would continue until someone won a majority.

"This reform is being adapted in other countries as well as some municipalities here. Minor Libertarian, Green and Reform parties would be able to show their true strength. The issues that concern them and many independents could not be ignored by major party candidates.

"The major parties would benefit because candidates would have to win a majority.

"The Green Party presidential candidate, most likely former six-term congresswoman from Georgia Cynthia McKinney, will have to compete with Ralph Nader for many of the same voters. Nader will hurt the Green Party more than any other party. But a democracy is about choices and we welcome the challenge."

David McCorquodale, of Wilmington, is treasurer of the Green Party of Delaware.

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