We think voters – not private interests or incumbent politicians – should decide who gets elected to public office. That’s why we’re working to dismantle the unnecessary barriers that make it so hard for qualified candidates to appear on the ballot in Texas.
Access to the ballot is one of the foundations of a modern democracy and critical for the functioning of our political system. Throughout American history, candidates representing a diverse platform of ideas allowed many new and innovative policy approaches and solutions that were later adopted, such as social security, ending child labor and the 40 hour work week to name a few. But today, the political process is stifled, and our current electoral system is ailing. Uncompetitive and even uncontested elections are common, voter participation is among the lowest of any developed democracy, and political gridlock is the norm. Meanwhile in Austin one party has maintained firm control over the Governor’s office and both houses of the legislature for years.
Not coincidentally, Texas has some of the most restrictive rules for access to the ballot in the nation. These restrictions artificially restrict participation in the political process, insulate incumbents from competition, and deny voters the choice of supporting alternative agendas. h
The barriers they impose include:
High Signature Requirements: To run for president in 2016, minor party candidates must submit a nomination petition with 47,183 signatures, while independents must submit 79,939 signatures. Yet the major party nominees automatically appear on the ballot following their party’s primary election which is paid for by taxpayers.
- Short Petitioning Period: Signature for nominating petitions cannot begin until the day after the major party primaries, then must be completed in only 75 days or less.
- V0ter Support Restrictions: Citizens who vote in the primary election cannot sign a candidate nominating petition, and no voter can sign a nomination petition for more than one candidate in the same race.
More Voices and More Choices
Arbitrary, anti-competitive, barriers to entry are illegal in commercial markets. They shouldn’t be allowed in the marketplace of ideas either. Just as an open and competitive market place helps ensure that the best products and services succeed, so a diversity of voices in the political arena enables the best ideas to prevail.
Deregulating the Ballot
Discriminatory and restrictive ballot access laws that limit voter choice did not exist when our nation was founded, and they are not part of our Constitution. They were enacted in the 20th century, largely to protect incumbent politicians from competition. By eliminating these unnecessary barriers to participation we can restore voter choice and revitalize our democracy. Ballot Access Best Practices
Texas Needs to Modernize
Texans law currently allows the use of electronic signatures for many commercial transactions, notary publics, absentee ballot requests, financial disclosure statements by elected officials and others. Yet the the State of Texas Election Code still relies on old fashioned hand signed nomination petitions to regulate ballot access access. Texas needs to bring its electoral processes up to date by allowing electronic signatures for nominations petitions too.