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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ballot Access and Third Parties

Our chapter on political parties discusses third parties, past and present. At The Tennessean, Professor John Miglietta of Tennessee State University argues that his state's ballot access law places too many burdens on third parties.

Our political system rewards those who already have money and name recognition while relegating the rest to an inferior status. The Constitution, Green and Libertarian parties successfully sued the state last year in federal court. The state legislature reworked the law but left several legally problematic requirements intact. The Constitution and Green parties have recently refiled the lawsuit.

Having additional parties on the ballot will provide voters with greater choices. Alternative public policies will be proposed and discussed. This creates a heightened interest in elections and an increase in voter turnout.

Choice is seen as a good thing in consumer goods such as toothpaste and dog food; why should we settle for just two political parties that reflect similar policies? Greater electoral competition would be a win for voters in Tennessee, as we would get greater substantive discussion of the issues and more innovative public policy. The attempt by the state legislature to propagate the monopoly of the political system by Democrats and Republicans is contrary to democracy and wastes public resources in defense of the current system.