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Ballot access in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK — New political parties will need fewer signatures to gain ballot access but will have less time to gather them, under a bill approved Friday by the House.

By a 66-23 vote, the House approved legislation that would require new parties to gather 10,000 signatures to be recognized on the ballot. State law now requires third parties to obtain signatures equal to 3 percent of the number of voters who cast ballots in the previous election for governor to obtain a place on the ballot.

Rep. Dan Greenberg, the bill’s sponsor, told lawmakers that the changes would satisfy a federal court ruling that the current requirements violated the constitutional rights of third parties.

“This bill designed to keep us out of court,” said Greenberg, R-Little Rock.

You can read the rest of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette article here.

The Constitution Party of Arkansas offers this commentary:

The courts rule that you cannot have one standard of ballot access for a person who wants to run as a member of a third party, and a lower standard if that same person wanted to run as an independent or non-partisan judicial position.

They required 10,000 voter signatures to run as an independent for statewide office, but 3% of the voters- now over 30,000, to run as a member of a new political party. No one has ever met that requirement since the law was passed in 1977. Even Ross Perot used a court victory to get himself on the ballot- that led to one of the court rulings that the legislature is just now getting around to complying with.

You see, when the court orders them to accumulate more power in Little Rock and spend more money, they comply immediately. When the court orders them to give other people a better chance to compete for their jobs they drag their feet for a decade.

At any rate, even though new parties had to get more signatures, they also had more days to get them. Something like 150 instead of 61. So to equalize it, they could have chosen to give independents and judicial candidates more days, or new parties less. Representative Dan Greenberg’s bill on ballot access protects the two parties as much as possible by choosing the latter course. They picked the right man to sponsor it for cover. Don’t expect the editorial page of the Democrat-Gazette to publish a scathing rebuke to the younger Mr. Greenberg for pulling the ladder up on ballot access. At least as much as they still can.

It was not too long ago in this nation’s history that we had blank ballots. Any man could just stand up in the town square and announce they wanted to run. People had to actually write down the name of the person they wanted to elect, but there was no ballot clutter. Run-offs could be held to sort out the matter of a person winning a small plurality in a twenty-person field, if that ever happened.

That was a good system because no candidate was beholden to any party. Of course, it also meant citizens had to think. It was harder to just vote party label. If I had the power, I’d send us back to the blank ballot in a heartbeat. It would fix a lot of our two-party woes.

Source: Arkansas Watch

7 Responses to “Ballot access in Arkansas”

  1. KenH Says:

    Unfortunately, the Arkansas House of Representatives had pulled a fast one on the people of Arkansas. If the House had left the time frame alone this bill would have been an improvement. Instead, it is giving with one hand while taking with the other hand.

  2. Cody Quirk Says:

    Which CP state affiliate are we talking about, the one that’s part of the national party, or the one with less then 5 people in the whole party?

  3. JShepp Says:

    To clarify the Greenberg/Gazette comment, Paul Greenberg is the sponsoring legislator’s dad and also the editor-in-chief of the editorial section of Arkansas’ largest newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

    Cody, I don’t believe the NCP has yet re-formed an official Arkansas affiliate, they just list a contact name on the national CP website. And our group (the former CP affiliate) has quite a bit more than five people, so I’m not sure to whom you’re referring.

  4. Trent Hill Says:

    The article is referring to the disafilliated Arkansas CP.

    Exactly how many registered members DO you have? How many candidates have you run?

  5. undercover_anarchist Says:

    As I said elsewhere: If you half the requirement and half the days, I think that’s easier (not just the same). After all, I’m sure there are diminishing returns. I’m sure you can get a lot more signatures per day in the first 60 days than you can days 61-150.

  6. Cody Quirk Says:

    Wow! Excuse me! I mean LESS then 6 people!

  7. Cody Quirk Says:

    Do you actually think the CP is going to post ALL of the members info of each state Party on their contact page?

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