The 2018 Libertarian candidates in Georgia may not have been the front runners, but voters who chose to support candidates outside the two-party duopoly did so in a significant and meaningful way; by voicing their desire for change and personal liberty. One of the dominant tenets of our society is freedom of speech. It is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or sanction. As Libertarians, we are constantly being told that our “vote doesn’t count” or that we are “just causing run-offs” because we are not voting for one of the two-party candidates.
Ryan Graham, the 2018 Libertarian candidate for Public Service Commission District 3 said about our current election system: “Republicans and Democrats like to complain that Libertarians cause costly runoffs while ignoring their own primaries that often cause the same expensive runoffs. Primaries that should be held privately by private organizations.” Graham further stated that, “We could easily fix this by forcing the Republicans and Democrats to finance and run their own primaries, and implementing Ranked Choice Voting as Smythe DuVal, the 2018 Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State, recommends. This would save the state billions of dollars over just a few election cycles.”
It is often difficult to enlighten citizens that voting for Libertarians can in fact make a significant impact on elections and the current political system. The 2018 Libertarian candidate for Governor, Ted Metz stated; “when there is a runoff, it might force voters to more closely examine the two final candidates. We can pick apart either party, but when it comes down to it, government is Republicans and Democrats. When they vote together on expanding government and increasing taxes, how is there any difference between the two parties?” Nicholas Sarwark, Chairman of the Libertarian National Committee, further explains why a vote for a Libertarian candidate not only counts, but sends a poignant message to career politicians and citizens. He states that, “when you vote Libertarian, the other parties have to become more Libertarian.”
The 2018 Georgia Libertarian candidates earned the following votes and percentages in the November 6th election: Ted Metz for Governor earned 37,277 or 0.95% of the votes, Smythe DuVal earned 86,109 or 2.23% of the votes, Donnie Foster for Insurance Commissioner earned 101,587 or 2.64% of the votes, Ryan Graham for Public Service Commission (PSC) District 3 earned 102,272 or 2.66% of the votes, and John Turpish for PSC District 5 earned 96,695 or 2.52% of the votes. Those numbers and percentages may not seem significant upon first glance, but they represent a growing voice of citizen discontent with the two-party system and lack of candidates that reflect their values. More importantly, they count towards Libertarians being recognized as a political organization and securing future ballot access in Georgia.
Georgia code states that official political party status is determined by the number of votes a presidential or gubernatorial candidate receives. Once a Gubernatorial or Presidential candidate receives twenty percent of the votes, the Libertarian Party of Georgia will gain party status, giving us ballot access equal to the Democrats and Republicans. Until the LP of Georgia achieves that threshold, we are considered a political organization, and must collect petition signatures for all offices below state-wide officers. As long as any of our state-wide candidates receive one percent or more of the votes counted, our eligibility to nominate candidates at our convention for those positions remains intact. Almost all of the Libertarian Party of Georgia’s state-wide candidates met and exceeded that requirement, ensuring the right to run Libertarian candidates in 2019 and 2020. Thank you to the voters who supported the efforts of our candidates and our party platform of Liberty. For more information about the Libertarian Party of Georgia visit www.lpgeorgia.com.