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.