Calling All Third-Party Candidates
Missourinet has an interesting story about the Constitution Party in Missouri (link via Mr. Durrwachter-Combest). Because the party hit the 2-percent statewide vote threshold in the recent state treasurer’s race, it is now poised to receive automatic ballot access in Missouri.
Ballot access status is one of the more important and underconsidered issues for third parties. Until you have it, you must spend a great deal of time gathering signatures merely to get on the ballot — time that would be much better spent trying to convince people that your ideas are worthy of their vote. A very smart way to do this is to run candidates in races in which one of the two major parties sits out. The Green Party has figured this out in the city of Saint Louis, where it has run candidates in races where no Republican files. In those cases, they get votes from all types of people who show up to vote and don’t want to support the establishment candidate, and it has been easy for them to hit the threshold for ballot access in city elections. Now they don’t have to waste time gathering signatures, but can actually try to get people to vote for them.
Now, I am not a supporter of a third party, but it is just as easy a move to pull in strongly GOP districts where no Democrat files. If Green or Libertarian Party candidates file against a Republican with no Democrat opposition, they can readily expect to get a certain number of votes from Dems who show up with nobody to support. Then they can spend less time in supermarket parking lots getting people to sign their candidacy petitions, and more time in supermarket parking lots trying to convince people that their third-party ideals aren’t insane. Isn’t democracy fun!