Greens seek to improve access to ballot

Greens seek to improve access to ballot

With the Ballot Access Working Group (BAWG)’s meeting at the 2003 national Green Party conference in Washington, D.C., came many new member states and increased participation.

Wed 10/01/03
by Deirdre Helfferich, Green Party of Alaska
Green Pages, Vol 7, No.3

With the Ballot Access Working Group (BAWG)’s meeting at the 2003 national Green Party conference in Washington, D.C., came many new member states and increased participation.

The BAWG is comparing state ballot access strategies, working in two informal halves: those who have succeded in gaining ballot access or have experience in the task and those who are seeking access.

Projects in the works are a ballot access manual, a BAWG Web site, strategic planning and focus on current access drives. Such drives include those in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Alaska is pressing two lawsuits and conducting a registration drive. One lawsuit challenges the state’s closed primary, and the other challenges the requirement that, to be a certified party in the state, the number of registered party members must equal 3 percent of the votes cast in the most recent gubenatorial race.

The Green Party of Alaska is suing to show that the “modicum of support” required by state law is shown by Green voter participation in any statewide race. (In the most recent election, Greens had more than twice the minimum requirement in each of the other two statewide races).

The history of candidate participation in elections has been consistent since achieving ballot status in 1990. Alaska still needs to register approximately 1,900 more Greens to achieve the requirement.

The Kansas Green Party was founded in September of 2000 after a successful petition drive to get Ralph Nader on the ballot. Although struggling to grow in this largely rural and very Republican state, they are proud of their perserverance.

This is Kansas’ second attempt at ballot status; the first attempt resulted in an unsuccessful petition drive in winter of 2000-2001. The current ballot drive started mid-April 2003 and is slated to run through mid-October 2003. Kansas law requires all valid signatures to be collected in a 6-month period but doesn’t state when that period has to be.

Needing 21,000 signatures and having only 5,000, Kansas is considering the possibility of extending signature collection past mid-October, but this would not be optimal. In the first week of the drive, petitioners gathered almost 2,000 signatures, so those signatures would be lost if the drive were extended into late October or November.

Kansas does not have the resources for a full-time coordinator, so the petition drive is being coordinated by two members who work full time at regular jobs: Ryan Gregg and Jim Carpenter, both of Lawrence.

The Kansas Green Party Web site has a complete listing of petitioning events around the state at http://kansas.greens.org.

In South Carolina, the party has gathered over 1,000 signatures on their way to 10,000. “We have a lot to do, and we plan to finish by election day of 2003.” said Gregg Jocoy. “We are putting together a plan which will involve the entire party membership across the state in a weekend long signature gathering blitz.” he said. A primary goal of the ballot access drive, beyond getting on the ballot, is outreach to under represented communities.

More information on various access drives and the BAWG is available from Juscha Robinson at juscha@greens.org.

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