Republicans playing tricks with Georgia’s ballot access laws

Secretary of State Brian Kemp recently released the report from the Elections Advisory Council, which recommends several changes to the states election law and modernizes the state’s voter registration systems.

Perhaps one of the recommendations I’m most thrilled about is a suggested change in petitioning requirements for third party and independents candidates. While not ideal, it certainly does make the lives of these candidates somewhat easier. However, I received an e-mail last night warning that the the Senate Ethics Committee is considering legislation that would make the petitioning process more trying for these candidates:

Senate Bill 377, will receive a hearing by the Ethics Committee on Wednesday, February 22 at 2pm in CLOB310, the 3rd floor of the Legislative Office Building. SB 377 attempts to place new restrictions on anyone who signs a petition for an independent or third party candidate to run for office. It requires all signers to show their personal identification to the petitioner for verification. Obviously, most signers will refuse to show personal identification to a stranger seeking their signature on a petition. Georgia already has the most restrictive ballot access laws in the country by far and this bill will make it virtually impossible for any independent or third party candidate to ever get on a Georgia ballot through petitioning.

With identity theft on the rise and warnings about it on TV and the radio, who is going to put their name on a petition that requires an ID for verification? And doesn’t it defeat the purpose of gathering signatures since the Secretary of State’s office and/or the local registrar verifies each signature anyway?

Most voters you’ll meet when petitioning believe that the elections process is open to anyone, that is until you tell them that third parties and independents have to gather signatures to get on the ballot. They’re almost appalled that, in a free society, people must get permission to even appear on the ballot.

I’m not naive enough to believe that the legislature is going just give us the same ballot access that Republicans and Democrats enjoy, but this bill would make things significantly more difficult for third parties and independents. Of course, that is their goal.

16 comments

  1. Max Power says:

    Listen this all about preventing fraud. Sure they may be no evidence of a problem but still you can bet there’s fraud. Libertarians are second only to Democrats in their use of fraud. Sure I may have no evidence for that statement but still fraud. I think the experience has taught us that the only way to prevent fraud is to allow only republicans on the ballot and only republicans to vote.

    • CobbGOPer says:

      I see your sarcasm, but if anyone thinks this bill is about preventing fraud, then I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. This bill is all about making it even harder for any candidate that is not a Democrat or Republican to run at all in Georgia. Period.

      • Doug Deal says:

        Also, any fraud at this level is fixable, at the polls. Fraud at the polls means the wrong candidate can win the election and can even mean a crisis for the government.

      • elfiii says:

        @CobbGOPer – “This bill is all about making it even harder for any candidate that is not a Democrat or Republican to run at all in Georgia. Period.”

        Yep.

  2. Doug Deal says:

    Maybe this is a good thing. It will likely push the law over the edge and perhaps Federal Courts will finally throw the whole thing out for being too restrictive.

    With modern technology, there is no real limit to the number of people that can appear on the ballot and a token filing fee and/or a token petition requirement would keep it at a practical number.

    • Doug,
      I believe the attempt here is to actually keep the issue out of the courts. There have been numerous reports lately about how state’s SOS registered voter databaes are a joke of acuracy… missing names, dead people, people no longer in the state and multiple dublications are just tips of the iceberg. They usse this joke database to determine how many signatures are required and match the collected signitures that are turned in, often wrongly tossing many of them.

      The state want us to do the work for them and show that they’re trying to fix things, while at the same time keeping any true challengers off of the ballot…. all just just plain wrong!

      • Doug Deal says:

        I use the voter database on a constant basis and I am actually amazed at it’s relative accuracy. No database of 6 million entries where change of information requires action on the part of a normal person is going to be 100% accurate. But, most of these do not matter alone, as it would take another illegal act or two (like a living person voting for a dead person and creating a false id to use at the poll) on the part of someone else to make it a problem.

        This is not a fault in the database, it is the fault in the actual voting process.

        Unless you want a system that purges records on the assumption that it is okay to purge on false positives, there isn’t much you can do to improve it short of requiring re-registering every so often.

        • Agreed Doug, but that is my point as well… since the database such as this type would be impossible to be ‘perfect,’ it should not be used in the manner it is for ballot access. And adding more burden on the people it’s being used against in an act to look as if one is trying to improve it, just compounds the act of deception.

    • NoTeabagging says:

      I’d love a system where voters can ‘opt-out’ of the state sharing their personal contact info to marketers such as yourself. Some states do this for a modest $5 fee. I think it would be a great state moneymaker.

      • Doug Deal says:

        I am hardly a marketer, but I am a researcher. What others do with my analysis might be marketing, if you consider expressing your first amedment rights as marketing.

        In a free society access to the voter database cannot be restricted, since it runs counter to open and free elections. Would you rather the government just told you who won without telling you who voted, how many, the count and from what precincts?

  3. cheapseats says:

    We won’t really have free and fair elections as long as there are political parties officially recognized by the voting process. I’m not saying we should restrict freedom of assembly or association – if you want to belong to a party then, fine with me. It’s just past the time when we should have made party affiliation a private thing and not have any mention of them in our voting laws or processes.

    Surely by now most of you can see that we don’t really have two distinct parties (especially in Georgia) any more. The players move freely between teams but they are still the same players no matter which color jersey they wear.

    If you want to run for office, pay a small fee to cover the administrative costs and appear on the ballot.

    • NoTeabagging says:

      I totally agree. Anyone wanting to swim with sharks can jump in the water for a fair fee.

      I would prefer an end of the two party system. Make all candidates run and act independently of team loyalty. Govern for the people, not for your party. They can exercise the secret handshake in their own private ‘party’ clubs on their own time and at their own expense.

      • CobbGOPer says:

        Open primaries, Louisiana-style. Instant runoffs. No party restrictions; you pays your fee, your name goes on the ballot.

        I could get behind that.

        • Calypso says:

          “Open primaries, Louisiana-style.”

          Man, not if it gets us Louisiana-style politics…and politicians.

          • A Cobb Republican says:

            Wow, now that is funny.

            Okay, then NEBRASKA-style.

            And as long as we’re copying Nebraska, let’s go unicam. Why should a state need two houses in its legislature anyway?

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