Count My Vote wants us to believe that their proposal will improve the elections process. I’ve already called into question their motives and proposed a solution of my own. Now that details of their solution are leaking out, it looks worse than ever. Ironically (or, more likely, by design), it would make it even harder to get onto the ballot, restricting access instead of easing it. What the what?
Let’s review the current system of ballot access we have in place. Right now, any registered member of a political party can file to run for office. They have to go through their party’s nomination process to secure a place on the ballot. Independent candidates have to secure signatures from 300 or 5% (whichever is less) of the total registered voters in their district. For State House candidates, that works out to around 1.5% of total registered voters in their districts. For Senate, it’s around 0.6%. Candidates for governor need at least 1,000 signatures from registered voters which also works out to around 0.6% of registered voters.
So how does Count My Vote propose to address this? Instead of making it easier for independents to file, they raise the threshold considerably for everyone else. Their proposal is that anyone who wants their party nomination would have to gather signatures from 2% of the voters in their district, but only from their registered party. Candidates for governor would need to lock down at least 10,000 signatures for the Republican nomination or 6,000 signatures for the Democratic nomination. This is an order of magnitude beyond the current requirement for independent candidates. Senate and House races are just as nasty with thresholds at or above independent candidates not to secure a place on the general election ballot, but to get the chance to run in the primary. These onerous requirements will ultimately discourage many candidates from trying to run or favor candidates who can afford to spend a lot of time and/or money just to get their foot in the door.
This is the problem that Count My Vote doesn’t want to talk about. All of their proposed solutions ultimately reduce the number of candidates in elections and require more money than ever to run for office. Those charges of elitism don’t seem all that far-fetched now, do they?