The political slogan “no taxation without representation” was an expression of one of the most egregious of the many complaints that the American colonists held against Great Britain. Essentially, this statement captures the idea that the absence of fair representation among lawmakers in the British parliament was equal to a denial of their rights according to the 1689 Bill of Rights. These deliberate efforts to squelch the voices of a significant portion of the empire led to the American Revolution yet, over 200 years later, here we are again with a new tyrannical regime that wishes to impose its will upon the citizenry while deliberately depriving a fair voice to those who are subjected to its power.
The Reign of the Duopoly
There is no justification for the contrived dominance of Georgia politics by two political parties which have created a system of insane hurdles for any other party to gain representation, allowing them to effectively corner the market on governance. Make no mistake about it, this is not just about politics, this is about people—people with opinions and ideas about how the government that controls so many minute aspects of their daily lives should operate. It is not hyperbole to say that those people are being silenced and oppressed.
Employing a charade of protecting the people of Georgia from “frivolous candidates,” the office of the Secretary of State is depriving the candidates of a legitimate political organization from inclusion on election ballots which, in turn, deprives the citizens of this state from choices in leadership. To suggest that the Libertarian Party of Georgia—an affiliate of a national political organization, which holds a respectable membership, executive leadership, and an annual convention—is a frivolous organization is disingenuous.
But this is not just about the Libertarian Party. The Green Party, the Working Families Party, the Constitution Party, and many more are disempowered by a corrupt establishment that seeks to maintain a hold on politics, not through good governance but rather by political cunning and deception, held in place at taxpayer expense. For while the Libertarian Party must ply its membership with requests to fund a lawsuit to eliminate some of these hurdles for ballot access, the state can afford to continue using the courts to deny the rights of voters with the use of public funds.
How Libertarians are Kept Off of the Ballot
Let’s investigate some of these hurdles. In order to get on the ballot as a Libertarian in a districted race, the candidate must capture signatures equal to 5% of eligible voters in the district. This requires the LP Georgia District 14 candidate alone to collect upwards of 25,000 signatures. It is necessary to collect 50% more than the recommended number of signatures since some of them will inevitably be disqualified, making that total 37,500. There are particular rules about how these signatures must be collected. Each page must be on a special form that allows only ten signatures per page. Each page must be notarized by an individual who was unconnected to collecting signatures. All of this must take place within a narrow window of time during which candidates must be actively campaigning while not knowing whether they will even get on the ballot.
Now let’s add to that an additional hurdle. With the redistricting that has recently taken place, the Secretary of State will not have new registered voter maps available until mid-March. This means that several weeks of that narrow window are now either lost or spent collecting signatures that may or may not be eligible, as it is difficult to know where the registered voters actually are.
This amounts to voter disenfranchisement on a massive scale as each and every voter in the state of Georgia is being denied choices. Whether or not they would choose those third-party candidates is beside the point. They have the right to have those choices.
What Does the Duopoly Have to Fear?
So, one might ask, why all of the fuss over parties that, historically, have not achieved substantial wins in the state when they HAVE obtained ballot access? One possibility lies in the fact that third-parties overall have seen substantial growth over the last couple of years. The blatant mismanagement of public policy and outrageous examples of government overreach during the pandemic have, no doubt, led to this. Even if third-parties tend to have fewer wins, they are extremely powerful in determining the outcome of elections.
When more choices are available, politicians are held accountable. A simple solution to this problem for a major-party candidate could be to actually represent their constituency and attract a greater number of voters by creating the small-government solutions that libertarians (and Republicans) want. Instead, they prefer to resort to unethical practices to keep parties off of the ballot which allow them to continue their policies of self-promotion and backroom deals with powerful special interest groups, free of the accountability that more choices would bring.
The Libertarian Party is one that is founded in philosophy. Plato understood the value of having philosophers in positions of leadership because they understand what it means to be virtuous and because they tend to not want to rule, thereby acting in the public good rather their own self-interest. Can such qualities be attributed to people who would seek to eliminate competition rather than trying to be the equal of it? If they are capable of matching the integrity and competency of their opponents, then what are they afraid of?