Green Party U.S. fighting for ballot access in all 50 states in 2016


KPFA Evening News, 06.04.2016


KPFA Weekend News Anchor Sharon Sobotta: The Green Party of Nevada and the Jill Stein for President campaign filed petitions yesterday to qualify for Nevada's ballot in November. Stein thanked all those who helped with signature drives, including Bernie Sanders’ supporters who were alienated by Nevada’s controversial nominating convention.   

Rick Lass, New Mexico activist and Jill Stein 2016 campaign staffer The Nevada Green Party was required to file 5,431 signatures. They filed 8,300 which will now be verified by county clerks and then sent to the Nevada Secretary of State.
KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to New Mexico Green and Stein campaign staffer Rick Lass about petition drives to get the Green Party on the ballot in all 50 states. 

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Rick Lass, your press release said that Greens are on the ballot in 22 states. Could you give us an overview of petition drives and other efforts to get Greens on the ballot in the other 28 states? 

Rick Lass: Yes, well we're actively petitioning in 25 and expect to be petitioning in all 28 very soon. We fully expect to get on the ballot in all but three states due to our petition drives, and in three states we'll probably require litigation because their petition requirements are so onerous.

KPFA: And those three states are? 

RL:  North Carolina, Indiana and Oklahoma. And the most egregious example is North Carolina, which requires 89,000 signatures. We filed just under 12,000 signatures on Wednesday, June 1st, and we expect that the state will reject them and that we'll have to go to court over this. 

KPFA: Greens in the State of Georgia have had some success with this, right?

RL: Yes, there was a lawsuit that was settled about two months ago that said that 54,000 signatures was unconstitutionally high and the judge reduced the requirement to 7500. So our activists and members in Georgia are very excited, and they're redoubling their efforts because what seemed like it was gonna be an impossible task is now very possible. And we expect that we will file in Georgia in mid-July and we'll have plenty of signatures and be on the ballot there. 

KPFA: Why is it that the Green Party had to make these efforts to qualify in 2012 . . .  and I believe it did so in 38 states then . . . why does it have to go through this all over again?

RL: Well that's just one of the many obstacles that the major parties put up to voter choice, and so we may have to do it again in four years, even if we get on in all states, because in most states, there's a vote test - that if your candidate, and frequently it's just the candidate for president or governor or the top of the ticket, doesn't get maybe it's one percent, maybe it's three percent, maybe it's five percent, then they disqualify those parties and we have to start from scratch, which clearly never happens to the major parties. 

KPFA: It's often argued that Greens should concentrate on local races for the school board, the city council, etcetera, instead of running presidential candidates. What's your response to that? 

RL: Well there's a lot of merit to that regarding party building, but in most states, the requirement is, if you want to run those local candidates, first you need to have a ballot line, and most of those states require you to have a presidential or gubernatorial candidate who gets one or three or five percent of the vote. So I would love to see state legislatures say, "Hey, if you have a 1000 members in our state, like Colorado does, then you're on the ballot. That's all you need to do, have a thousand members. You don't need to run candidates for president or governor." There're many ways that we can find common ground to get ballot access for other parties. And I just want to point out that in just about every other democracy in Latin America or Europe, voters expect to have four or five or six parties on the ballot. And those parties don't have to jump through all the hurdles. 

KPFA: And that was Rick Lass, New Mexico Green and Jill Stein for President campaign staffer. In Berkeley, for PacificaKPFA Radio, I’m Ann Garrison.

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