FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 2020
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Kevin Zeese, Press Secretary
Robert Smith, Media Coordinator
DEMOCRATS’ EFFORTS TO DENY BALLOT LINES TO GREEN PARTY IS VOTER SUPPRESSION
Syracuse, NY: Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for President, said today that Democratic Party efforts to prevent him and VP nominee Angela Walker from being on the ballot was voter suppression that rivaled the more well-known efforts of Trump and the Republicans to undermine democracy (release on Trump).
The Greens cited Democratic Party efforts seeking to block Green opposition from the ballot this year in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Montana. The Greens have sued over ballot access in several states. Five third parties have sued Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York state over recent laws seeking to eliminate them. Most states have rejected calls to reduce ballot access requirements this year despite the pandemic making it extremely dangerous and unsafe to collect petition signatures in person.
The huge amount of funding, volunteers and time spent navigating the obstacle course of ballot access diverts the limited resources the Greens have to do outreach to voters in the general election.
“The myth that the United States is a beacon of democracy is taught in American schools and reinforced by mainstream media. The reality is far different. The United States is one of only three democracies that do not use proportional representation, where legislative seats are allocated based on percentage of votes. Unlike other countries, campaigns are financed by the legalized bribery of private campaign funding by wealth special interests”, Hawkins pointed out. “Porous campaign finance laws allow undisclosed dark money into election finances and Supreme Court rulings have said that electoral spending by the wealthy and special interests is a form of protected free speech. Then the two parties write ballot access laws that are far more onerous than other democracies to prevent challenges by third parties, independents, and insurgent candidates,” noted Hawkins.
“Party suppression is a form of voter suppression. Rather than seeking to limit voters’ choices on election day to the candidates of the two corporate-financed parties, the Democrats need to join the Greens in fighting Republican efforts to prevent average Americans from voting. Trump’s open assault on the US Post Office to make it harder to vote by mail is especially outrageous,” Hawkins noted.
Both parties have suppressed voting by making it harder for low-income residents, students and tenants to register, purging voter rolls, reducing polling places and machines in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods to create long waiting lines, and blocking individuals with criminal justice records from voting. Republicans tend to do this throughout the election cycle, while Democrats are often more focused on primaries, except when Greens challenge them in the general election.
Hawkins noted that Democrats’ effort to block support for Greens can hurt the Democrats themselves. The presence of Green candidates brings out voters who would otherwise stay home. Many voters who go to polls to support Green candidates end up voting for Democratic candidates in down-ballot elections. 61% of Jill Stein voters in 2016 would have stayed home according to exit polls. Ralph Nader’s presence in 2000 brought more voters out who also voted for Marie Cantwell, enabling her to win a close race in Washington, allowing the Democrats to take control of the US Senate.
The Democrats routinely seek to knock the Greens off the ballot due to technical problems in meeting the rules written by the two parties. In Pennsylvania, which has attempted to charge candidates tens of thousands of dollars for the fees of lawyers who challenged Green ballot petitions, Democrats are challenging the Green presidential ticket over the routine practice of listing stand-in candidates that are replaced once the national nominating convention picks the ticket. In Wisconsin, Democrats are challenging because VP candidate Angela Walker moved during the petitioning period. The campaign notified the Wisconsin election commission and followed their instructions. In Montana, the Democrats harassed 600 individuals to remove their names from petitions that had been submitted.
One purpose of Green presidential campaigns is to secure ballot lines, so the party can more readily run local, state, and federal candidates in the next election cycle. In 40 of the 50 states, the Green vote in the presidential race determines whether a party has a ballot line for the next election cycle. In most states, it takes 1%, 2%, 3%, or 5% of the popular vote for president to win ballot qualification.
US ballot access requirements are far more onerous than other electoral democracies. Without a ballot line, Greens must do independent nominating petitions.
For the House of Representatives for example, an independent must get thousands of signatures in many states: 3,500 in New York; over 4,000 in Arizona; over 15,000 in Illinois; over 20,000 in Georgia and Ohio; over 30,000 in Alabama; and over 40,000 in Indiana. By comparison, if you want to run as an independent for the House of Commons in the UK, it takes 10 signatures. In New Zealand 2 signatures, Australia 50, Canada 100 (or 50 in rural districts), Germany 200.
“Boss Tweed in New York City used to say he was happy to allow the voters to select the winner as long as he got to select the candidates. That’s what the Democrats and Republicans still do today. The Green Party challenges the political duopoly that is bankrolled by corporate special interests. Party suppression and other forms of voter suppression are why a white supremacist con man can get elected President,” Hawkins said.