Like It or Not: Ballot Access

Georgia voters deserve better choices. More choices. Our red state/blue state politics don’t cut it anymore. It’s a national problem, as this horrible election season proves.
 
More people than ever before complain they don’t like either of the presidential candidates, claiming there’s no good choice. Let’s talk about how to fix that.
 
Here in Georgia, the problem isn’t a lack of political talent or ideas. I blame the political elites for suppressing the message of additional opponents and ensuring they never reach the ballot.
 
That’s right. The very people who stand to lose the most from “better,” more qualified candidates are making sure you never see their names.
 
I know you’re as shocked as I am.
 
It’s so bad that Georgia has long been ranked 50th in the nation for ballot access laws. Today, Georgia currently requires roughly 22,000 signatures of registered voters for an independent candidate JUST to place their name on the ballot for a U.S Congressional race, and roughly 60,000 signatures for a statewide race.
 
It’s so bad that no third party has been on a general election Congressional ticket since 1943.  That's 73 years ago. Because of these restrictive ballot access laws, many races for the Georgia legislature only have ONE candidate.
 
Time and again, members of the legislature have introduced bills to try to ease access to the ballot. State Representative John Pezold tried in 2015 to reduce the number of required signatures, but never even got a committee hearing. Now, State Senator Josh McKoon is trying to eliminate the need for signatures altogether. More than a decade ago, before he was Speaker, David Ralston introduced similar legislation that went nowhere. Even Secretary of State Brian Kemp took a weak swing and missed.
 
The result: for more than 25 years, Georgia has allowed no more than two candidates on its ballots. And that means people who don’t align with the Republican or Democrat parties don’t have a seat at the table. 
 
Even worse, you have dozens of candidates who run under one of the two parties but have very little in common with their platform; they simply use the name because it’s the “easy way.”
 
Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that the Georgia law requiring presidential candidates who aren’t Republicans or Democrats to collect signatures to be placed on the ballot is unconstitutional. But state law still hasn’t changed.
 
Wouldn’t you prefer a laundry list of choices when you go into the voting booth? Wouldn’t you at least like to know that elected officials aren’t keeping others out of the process?
 
Secretary of State Brian Kemp needs to support real ballot access reform and stand up to the legislature. If you want more choices, he needs to hear from you. His phone number is (404) 656-2881 and here's his Facebook. He can force our legislators to address the fact that we’re serious about wanting more than two choices.
 
We say we want quality people who represent our values and are willing to serve, but that might mean looking outside the current, either/or system. Those people are out there, and we should be able to find them...on our ballot.
 
 
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