Vermont Progressive Susan Davis: ‘Third parties and primary elections’

Rep. Susan Davis at Vermont Progressive Party blog:

Third parties speak out publicly when the issues that matter are left off the table for discussion or left in the waste basket after discussion. Still, the American system of elections tends to work against third parties. Vermont is not immune from this. I and many others feel that there should be more options, not fewer, for voters. Last session, House Progressives thwarted an attempt to hamper democracy with fewer options, with a quick voice amendment to bill S.122 that came out of House Government Operations as a “strike all” amendment.

The legislation, under the guise of “An act relating to recounts in elections for statewide offices” would have required a write-in candidate to file “a declaration of candidacy for an office with the Secretary of State not later than 5 p.m. on the Friday preceding the election if the candidate wishes to have the votes cast for his or her name counted by name for that office.” Despite the title, this change would have effected candidates running for state representative and senate, not just statewide. The overall impact of the bill would have been to reduce the number of candidates cross-endorsed by more than one party.

Building coalitions and working together is a two-way street that many times runs into road blocks on one side of the street. This change would have been yet another block. With primary voting now open, and the unprecedented outreach to Progressives from statewide Dem candidates, I wonder: has the Democratic party become a more comfortable home for Progressives? Will we continue to be a viable third party option for voters looking for more options, not fewer? Will the next legislature try again to move bills to push the three major parties apart?

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