Friday, April 21, 2006

Are US elections free and fair?

Whilst glancing at the websites people have come from when visiting this site I came across this random post from the blog Tom Martin for US Senate from Pennsylvania about the difficulties one faces in standing for election in the United States.

In Pennsylvania the Republicans and Democrats parties only need 2,000 signatures for their state wide ballot access - In 2006 Libertarians, Constitution, Greens, Independents or any one else needs over 67,070 signatures -- more then 33 times as many signatures the incumbents need -- so much for the explicit Pennsylvania constitutional guarantee of Free and equal elections (article I Section V) - apparently the laws are only for the little people.
Does anyone want to defend such a biased system? What's wrong with a straightforward one rule for all approach?


Richard Johnson said...

The more than two-party system in the United States cannot exist because of the difficulty to get on the ballots, the intence publicity, the campaigning, but most of all, the huge sums of money needed to run a campaign.

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

I'm inclined to agree - the issue isn't just ballot access but also access to public debates and the like. Whilst access to the electorate on the scale we take for granted here is not in itself going to lead to great advances for third parties, they wouldn't have to expend so much energy just getting their foot in the door and might be able to instead devote that time to diversifying political debate in the states.

The history of one off surges in votes for third parties in the US suggests that brekathroughs can be made, as indeed does the fear exhibited by the two main parties which is demonstrated by the biased rules rigging the system in favour of incumbents (could anyone get away with gerrymandering in this country on the scale of the US?!).


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