179 Candidates Thrown Off Ballot for Minor Technicality

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About Lauren Hale

A two time Postpartum Depression survivor turned peer advocate, Lauren Hale blogs about Postpartum Mood Disorders at My Postpartum Voice. She also hosts #PPDChat each Monday on Twitter for families struggling with Postpartum Mood Disorders. Lauren holds a B.A. in English and enjoys writing poetry in the forests of Virginia.

Comments

  1. AnonymousDog says:

    It’s easy to talk about the courts not choosing candidates, and ‘minor technicalities’ not keeping candidates off the ballot, but unless we practice democracy by getting together in open air assemblies and voting by a show of hands, someone has to have the ballots prepared well before election day after the candidates have shown they met the requirements to get on that ballot.

    Maybe you don’t think candidates should have to file a statement of economic interest? That would reduce the red tape.

    • Mike L says:

      AnonymousDog,

      I’ve worked on ballot access before, and I can say with certainty that it can be a real problem in many states.

      I know one of the biggest offenders is New York. If you want to fun in New York you have to be from a “qualified political party” or you have to run as an independent. To be a qualified political party, you need to have received 50k votes in the most recent election for governor. In case you didn’t figure it out from that sentence, this makes it extraordinarily difficult to start a new political party.

      There is, of course, a process for starting a new political party: you have to get thousands of signatures, and they must be collected from a majority of the state’s districts.

      This seems fair, until you consider: someone running for a congressional district will need to get signatures from OTHER congressional districts to get on the ballot. Why is this necessary?

      If you run as an independent, you need to get 3x the number of signatures as you would if you ran with an established party (which is why there’s a push to establish parties in the first place).

      Why is this such an issue? Why do independents need 3x the number of signatures as those from established parties? Why put up nonsense barriers (gathering signatures in districts you wouldn’t even represent) to get new political parties into the mix?

      The answer is simple: for quite a while people have blamed “independent” or “third party” candidates for being “spoilers.” Usually it looks something like “The democrat would have won, but too many people voted for the green party!”

      To cut down on this “problem” the established parties (read: the republicans and the democrats) take steps to make ballot access more and more onerous. One such step is now backfiring in South Carolina.

      For those of us who have worked on ballot access initiatives, this really is an ongoing problem. It’s good to see some discussion of it.

  2. AnonymousDog says:

    I would agree that the requirement for more signatures to get on the ballot is, indeed, onerous. However, your article made little mention of that, and seemed to be focused on the filing deadline and the SEI, You have to admit that some of the various voting reforms over the last century have done little to increase ballot access and in some cases made things worse.

    Personally, I think party primaries should be abolished and replaced by caucuses and conventions, or at least conducted at party, not public expense.

    • The article focuses on the filing deadline and the SEI because that’s the focus of this piece and what is at issue in South Carolina at the moment. The issue is not if candidates should file SEI’s, it’s that there are two separate expectations for the actual filing which has been exploited to withhold candidates from the voting public.

      The issue at hand here is a difference between State Law and the Ethics Commission. The Ethics Commission stopped printing a paper form of the SEI and doesn’t include instructions on how to file as State law mandates. There was a very specific method which allowed for proper filing, one which very few candidates managed to pull off. This is not a case of one candidate screwing up. This is a systemic problem which has plunged the state into chaos.

      Information regarding this method was not filtered through proper channels and even those with the parties and election boards were unsure how to proceed which is why several forms were not accepted/refused or thrown out.

      I’m not looking to discuss who should pay for what or if a certain document should be filed or not. I’m pointing out that both candidates and voters have been and potentially will continue to be disenfranchised in the state of South Carolina.

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