According to an April 2018 Gallop Poll, U.S. Congressional Approval stands at 18%. This high level of dissatisfaction should be all the evidence that anyone would need to say that we need more options in the political process. However, since most voters in this county are trained to think that only Democrats or Republicans have a chance to win, it becomes a self fulfilling prophesy. On top of those abysmal Congressional approval numbers, the 2016 U.S. Presidential election pitted Hillary Clinton (D) vs. Donald Trump (R) in a contest of arguably two of the most disliked candidates in recent memory, with both candidates having over 50% disapproval. It would not be a stretch to say that most voters would vote for an “other” candidate besides the flawed Democrat and Republican candidates if given a chance.
Because of the high level of corruption of both Democrats and Republicans, they both have a vested interest in keeping competition out. Enter highly restrictive ballot access laws. According to Ballot-access.org, in GA Legislative year 2017- 2018, “HB 133 would have reduced the number of signatures for most offices. SB 112 would have eliminated mandatory petitions for all candidates. Neither of them made any headway.” Also according to Ballot-access.org, “the Georgia legislature made ballot access worse. HB 268, signed into law on May 9, 2017, moved the deadline for petitioning candidates to file their notice of candidacy and filing fee from June to the first week in March.”
As a current candidate for GA House District 90, I see first-hand how restrictive these ballot access laws are. Although I have already paid my filing fee to be on the ballot, I have to leap over the additional hurdle that neither Democrats nor Republicans have to. Within a 180 day period of time, I am required to get 1,767 signatures of registered voters in my district. If the playing field was level and Democrats and Republicans had to also do the same thing, it would slightly make sense. However, due to the restrictive laws that both parties enacted, they are exempt and everyone else must comply.
How does that make democracy better? It doesn’t. Not only that, in addition to gerrymandered districts that skew elections heavily towards Democrats or Republicans, there is a reason why Georgia has one of the highest occurrences of incumbents running unopposed. Instead of being able to get in touch with potential voters ahead of the election to inform them about how I can be their representative and allowing them more freedom and choice in their lives, they are stuck with the default choices, of Democrats and Republicans, who at every turn try to make life more difficult through continuously restrictive regulations. Third party ballot access regulations are not democratic nor do they promote freedom of choice and representation.
In the private sector, having abundant choices means that the consumer can purchase the product or service that meets their needs. However, when it comes to government, even though people are as diverse as they come, and government currently touches every aspect of their lives, they are forced to select between two heavily flawed parties. If a person were in the market for a new car would they be satisfied with only the choices of Chevy or Ford? Maybe if those were the only two options, not knowing that there weren’t other options might not be that bad. However, when they understand that there are many other options, it opens up the possibilities. They can also choose Chrysler, or Honda, or Toyota, etc. The same can be said for voting rights and choice of representation.
Because government touches so many aspects of our lives, people should have the option to choose between more than two options when going to the polls. The true test of if they support free and fair elections is where do they stand in regard to ballot access? Anything other than removing restrictive ballot access laws is a vote more towards tyranny than towards free and open democracy.
About the Author:
Demond Kennedy is running for Georgia House District 90 in the 2018 election. For more information about Demond and his campaign visit: http://kennedy4gahouse.com/.