Too High A Barrier?

(Without editorial comment, see Editor’s Note)

Hartford Advocate article on the petitioning effort required to get on the presidential ballot: <read>

In a rare show of third party unity, the campaigns of Nader, Libertarian Bob Barr and the Green Party’s Cynthia McKinney, the last two former Congress members, are joining forces across state lines to overcome ballot access rules designed to keep minor party candidates out. The camps are sharing workers, swapping petitions and urging voters to sign up for another third party candidate along with their own. They’ve joined forces in Maine, West Virginia, Hawaii, Pennsylvania and now Connecticut, where Barr submitted 13,000 signatures and McKinney turned in “close to the necessary number,” a Green Party boss says…

Sidewalk petitioning can be thankless work: Campaigns pay workers $1 to $1.50 per signature to stand on baking asphalt, asking irritated grocery shoppers to sign in support of a candidate they’ve often never heard of, or might consider a “spoiler.” Nader’s national ballot coordinator, Christina Tobin of Illinois, arrived in Hartford last week to turn in the fruits of their labor…

…petitioners must carry a form for every town—Andover to Woodstock—which the state then mails to those towns. Another law says petitioners must be state residents, which poses a problem because the most reliable workers are the few paid national staffers who travel from state to state, not local volunteers. Beyond that, requiring 7,500 valid signatures when other New England states require a fraction as many (1,000 in Rhode Island, 3,000 in New Hampshire) disadvantages small-dollar grassroots campaigns, Tobin says.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, the state’s top election official, is unsympathetic. She says town officials must validate petition signatures because only they have the original signed voter cards. If something looks suspicious—say, several signatures in the same handwriting—officials need to check the source documents.

Read the entire article for more details and opinion.

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