In response to arguments made by Rob Sherman, the Cook County, Illinois Green Party Chair who has challenged other alternative parties seeking a place on the ballot, prominent New York Green and 2010 Gubernatorial Candidate Howie Hawkins has the following in Ballot Access News comments:
My appeal to Mr. Sherman to withdraw his objections:
Dear Mr. Sherman,
I urge you to withdraw your challenges to the ballot access petitions of four presidential candidates.
I write this as someone who joined the Socialist Party USA when it reformed in 1973 and has been active in the Green Party since our first national organizing meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota in august 1984. I was also involved in the Peace and Freedom registration drive for party status and ballot access in 1967-68 in California, in the People’s Party presidential campaign of Ben Spock and Julius Hobson in 1972, and the Citizens Party presidential campaign of Barry Commoner and LaDonna Harris in 1980.
I know how hard it is to get on the ballot. I’ve petitioned successfully 17 of 19 attempts for myself and petitioned countless times for other Green candidates, with mixed success because of major party challenges or state official malfeasance. I have been challenged on my own petitions by the Democrats almost every time, most of them utterly frivolous challenges that served only to force me to devote limited time and resources to defend my petition instead of campaign for the office.
I appreciate the hard work that the Illinois Green Party put into petition to put the Green Party presidential ticket on the Illinois ballot. As you know, I was the vice-presidential candidate on the petition as a stand-in until our presidential nominee chooses a running mate. I congratulate you on a job well done.
Nonetheless, I believe Greens should support the ability of all candidates to be on the ballot. Let the voters decide!
Greens should not use the restrictive ballot access rules to eliminate candidates. Those rules were written by the two corporate parties to exclude alternatives. Greens should be in solidarity with other parties on reforming ballot access laws, not acting like the Democrats and Republicans do to exclude them.
Also keep in mind that ballot access challenges are a double-edged sword. The Greens are working very hard to get on the ballot in many states this year where the requirements are very onerous. If one of our members challenge other parties in Illinois, we cannot credibly object if one of them challenges a Green petition in another state.
It would be a self-inflicted defeat if progressive independents allow rules written by the corporate parties to exclude all of us end up dividing and conquering us. I suggest that a better approach is that we support each others’ ballot access this year and work in the future toward an electoral united front against the corporate two-party-system.
The most important divide politically today is not between progressive third parties, but between all of them and the corporate rulers. Once we break open ballot access and replace the winner-take-all two-corporate-party system of rule with proportional representation for full representation and democracy, then the various strands of independent progressive politics can run their own slates, win their own proportionate shares of legislative representation, the can debate, negotiate, and legislate policies during their term in office.
But today we need solidarity against the corporate parties’ attempts to silence us. To restricting ballot access, we must add the Citizens United repeal of the Tilden Act ban on corporate campaign spending, preventive detention of organizers before demonstrations, the war on whistlelbowers using the Espionage Act, the federal coordination of the suppression of Occupy, warrantless surveillance of all our phone calls and emails by the National Security Agency, and many other bipartisan assaults to our political freedoms and constitutional rights.
We need unity in the fight to for our freedoms. I want the Greens to set a positive example in this respect.
Please withdraw your petition objections.
Howie Hawkins, Syracuse, New York, delegate to the Green National Committee
Additional arguments from others against Mr. Sherman’s position include:
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When Jesse Ventura was the Reform Party nominee for Governor of Minnesota, there were 8 candidates on the November ballot. But Ventura still won.
[T]he rules are illegitimate. Illinois didn’t require any signatures for any party to appear on the ballot during the period 1927-1931. In 1931 the legislature ended that policy and put into effect the current system. A new party must submit hundreds of thousands of signatures if it wants to run for all levels of office in Illinois. Separate petitions for each US House candidate amount to 5% of the last vote cast alone mounts up to hundreds of thousands of signatures.
Furthermore, chances are the Greens didn’t have 25,000 valid signatures either this year. They submitted about 29,000.
The rules are that you can file and if no one challenges you’re on the ballot. All 6 candidates followed the rules, though two of them did it in different ways. One of the huge hurdles is that you cannot fulfill the actual petitioning requirement unless you have tons of money to hire paid petitioners. Given that they will lie what it is for half the time, it is essentially a financial requirement, not a support requirement.
You’re making excuses to justify such an action. You’re making large assumptions as to whether the other candidates are frivolous or not.
the Constitution Party presidential candidate is not frivolous. He was elected to Congress in every election 1996 through 2006. He has far more experience in government than Jill Stein does.
In 2008, the Constitution Party presidential candidate polled more votes than the Green Party presidential candidate in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. In the nation as a whole, the Constitution Party outpolled the Green Party for president.
Virgil Goode has been at 6% in some Virginia polls recently. I doubt Jill Stein has that much support in any state.
Rocky Anderson was also elected Mayor of Salt Lake City for two terms, and has more political experience than Jill Stein.
It seems to me that frivolous is in the eye of the beholder. I would be very careful about who gets to decide who is frivolous. That path leads in a bad direction.
Considering that Socialists have helped get the Greens on the ballot in Illinois and many other states (Howie Hawkins, Socialist Party member and Green candidate in NY) Mr. Sherman should withdraw his objections to ALL the parties at once.
Greens who disagree should put pressure on him to withdraw his challenge.
Ironic that a Green is challenging those other parties when it is highly unlikely his own party had enough VALID signatures of voters.
Also ironic that COFOE’s meeting is at the Green Party National Convention in a few days.
Previous BAN post:
Annual Coalition for Free & Open Elections (COFOE) Meeting
The Coalition for Free & Open Elections (COFOE) will hold its annual board meeting on July 15, Sunday, in Baltimore, at the Inner Harbor Holiday Inn, 301 W. Lombard Street, at noon. The meeting will be in the Harbor 2 Room. The Green Party is kindly making this room available to COFOE. The national convention of the Green Party will meet on the day before, Saturday, July 14, to choose a presidential and vice-presidential nominee, in the Chesapeake Ballroom of the same hotel. Then, on Sunday morning, the national committee of the Green Party will meet at 9 a.m. in the Harbor 2 Room, but that meeting is expected to be finished by noon, making the space available for the COFOE meeting.
COFOE was formed in 1985, and is a loose coalition of most of the nation’s nationally-organized parties, other than the two major parties. Also included are organizations that are interested in the legal problems of political parties and independent candidates. The COFOE board currently includes representatives from the Conservative Party, the Constitution Party, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the Reform Party, the Socialist Party, the Working Families Party, Free & Equal, and the Committee for a Unified Independent Party.
Anyone is free to attend the board meeting.
I find the notion of a minor party advocate throwing aspersions on other parties as being “frivolous” […] to be really disheartening. This apes the “There Is No Alternative” blather of the Democratic and Republican party apparatchiks. You’re going to get pulled into the Democratic orbit, arguing like that.
[..] The incumbents write the rules. Anything bureaucratic hurdle that trips up the Constitutionalists or the Socialists can be turned against the Greens or anyone else challenging the status quo. We need simplified ballot access, especially in states like Illinois and North Carolina. Trying to game the system just plays into the hands of the duopoly.
With write-in votes and/or faithless electors, any candidate could theoretically have a mathematical chance of winning.
That’s a silly threshold anyway, since we all know that the Greens and Libertarians are extremely highly unlikely to win the presidency.
Who’s to say you have to draw a line somewhere when it comes to ballot access? California managed an election that I voted in with 135 candidates just fine, and Iraq had one with 111 candidates iirc and managed OK too; yet the states with the easiest ballot access, no signatures needed, get 10-20 candidates for president at most.
Also, who am I, a non-”progressive,” to tell Socialist Party members whether the Green Party is socialist enough for them or not, etc? That is their business to decide for themselves.
I’m a registered Green, I’ve been active in Green campaigns in Philly and CT, and I founded a College Greens chapter at my college, and I sent an email to Rob Sherman to tell him to withdraw his petition challenges. I really hope this wasn’t supported by the party.
Common Tater, thanks for reminding us of the October 2003 California special gubernatorial election, which had 135 candidates for Governor on the ballot. Peter Camejo, Green Party candidate in that election, got 242,247 votes in that election, 2.80%. That was a higher percentage than he got when he ran for Governor as the Green nominee in 2006. In 2006 he got 205,995 votes, 2.37%, even though in 2006 there were only 6 candidates on the ballot.
From the Green platform:
“We will act to broaden voter participation and ballot access.”
Here, an officer of the Green Party is acting to narrow ballot access instead of broaden it. This is a fundamental hypocrisy that is making the Green Party seem no more legitimate and no less prone to double speak than the Democrats. I do not think anyone would be as upset as if the challenges came from the Republican or Democratic parties whom we expect to do such undemocratic actions.
And from IPR comments on the previous story:
Rob Sherman seems unaware that the Constitution Party and the Green Party are co-plaintiffs in 5 important constitutional ballot access cases. In four of those cases, those two parties are the only two plaintiff parties. Weakening the Constitution Party will make it easier for the states to beat us in court. The state attorneys can’t defend the early deadlines, so they attack the plaintiff parties. Evidence in these cases includes the number of states in which each of the parties is on the ballot nationwide.
Wow. What an egomaniacal jerk. And his reasoning regarding ‘dividing up’ the 3rd Party vote is nonsensical on every level. The reason the major parties didn’t challenge is because IL will go to Obama by a large margin, no reason to waste time and energy (plus ill will) challenging them. And it wreaks of hypocrisy to whine about the exact same thing that Dems base their objections to the ‘spoiler’ Greens (dividing the vote). Plus what does Michael Hawkins’ behavior have to do with the other petitions?
Rob Sherman has until Monday to withdraw his objection to the Constitution, Socialist and Justice Party petitions if he can be persuaded to change his mind.