On January 21, the Georgia Green Party issued a press release titled, “Georgia Green Party Kicks Off Ballot Access Drive for 2008″. The release says, for the first time, the party will attempt to qualify as a statewide party. That will require 44,089 valid signatures, to be collected between April 2007 and July 2008.
Across the U.S., only one higher ballot access barrier has ever been overcome by a state Green Party. That was the California registration drive in 1991, which required the party to persuade 79,188 people to register into the party. Even the Texas Green 2000 petition didn’t need as many signatures as will be needed in Georgia; the Texas 2000 petition drive required 37,381 signatures.
However, if the Georgia Greens can succeed, the rewards for them will be great. Once the petition is complete, the party will probably be able to remain ballot-qualified (for statewide office only, since the statewide petition only affects statewide offices) indefinitely into the future. A statewide party in Georgia remains on the ballot as long as it polls a number of votes equal to 1% of the statewide registration. Since Georgia usually elects 9 or 10 statewide officers in mid-term years, any diligent party can poll the needed votes for at least one of those offices. In presidential years there are always one, two or three races for Public Service Commissioner, another office for which voters are generous to minor parties with their votes.