Miffed with Mitt? Had it with Obama? The Greens and Libertarians are back in business in Maryland elections.
On Monday, the State Board of Elections told leaders of the Green Party and the Libertarian Party that they had collected enough valid petition signatures to be put back on the November ballot.
The two minor parties lost their official status when they failed to get at least 1% of the vote for governor in the 2012 election. They had to collect another 10,000 signatures to restore them to the ballot, and both parties had come up short the last time they submitted signatures.
The parties challenged the signature validation process, but lost on appeal.
Election officials said the Greens had 11,033 valid signatures and the Libertarians had 11,133. Achieving official status means that the two parties can also nominate candidates for state and local office in 2014.
The Libertarian candidate for president is Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, and the Greens are running Jill Stein, a Massachusetts physician who was nominated for president at their national convention in Baltimore last month.
Full slate for Libertarians
The Libertarians have a much fuller slate of Maryland congressional candidates lined up for the ballot than the Greens.
Dean Ahmad of Bethesda is the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, running on a platform of bringing troops back to the U.S., restoring civil liberties that have been compromised by the “war on terror,” bringing fiscal responsibility to the federal government, and ending bailouts and other forms of corporate welfare, according to a statement from his campaign manager Susan Gaztanaga.
Libertarian candidates are running in all eight of Maryland’s congressional districts: Muir Boda in congressional 1st district; Leo Dymowski, 2nd district; Paul Drgos, 3rd district; Scott Soffen, 4th district; Arvin Vohra, 5th district; Nickolaus Mueller, 6th district; Ronald Owens-Bey, 7th district 7; and Mark Grannis, 8th district.
The Green Party has nominated just two candidates for U.S. House of Representatives: George Gluck of Rockville for the 8th District and Bob Auerbach of Greenbelt for the 5th District.
Working to end ballot exclusion
“We continue to work to end these exclusionary ballot access laws,” said Michael Cornell, former Maryland Green Party co-chair and current River Hill representative on the Columbia Council. “Imagine an Olympic race that required some runners to appeal to the crowd to be allowed to participate while others had already started. This would not be a fair game, and it’s not fair to Marylanders at the ballot box. The exclusion of Green Party and other smaller party candidates in many states deprives voters of the choices they deserve across the country.”
“Many people are concerned about voter suppression in southern states but the petition process is the Maryland version,” said Bill Barry, membership coordinator of the Maryland Green Party. “When only two parties are allowed to run in districts drawn to prefer one, voters stay home. This is a legal and relatively secret method of suppressing voter turnout for partisan reasons.”
Libertarian candidate Muir Boda, running for Congress against Republican Rep. Andy Harris, said: “We are so grateful for the hard work put into this drive for ballot access. This was a true grassroots political effort that will offer real alternatives to the two major political parties. … Liberty is on the ballot.”
This whole process is crazy. Why should a party that has over 10,000 registered voters in it already have to go out an get 10,000 signatures to keep its official recognition? The implication is that 10,000 libertarian voters are not a good enough reason to put the party on the ballot, so they must get permission from 10,000 of their neighbors who are mostly Republicans and Democrats. When I explained the process to people who signed for me, they were offended by these exclusionary tactics. Isn’t there anyone in the legislature who wants to be a champion for unrigged elections with unconstrained debate?
Actually, there were fewer than 10,000 Greens and 10,000 Libertarians registered.
The law needs to be amended so that if a party would ordinarily need to collect 10,000 signatures but already has at least 10,000 voters registered to that party, they would be automatically considered to have met the requirement. If there are 10,000 registered Libertarians or Greens, then there are 10,000 people who would want them on their ballot. It would save the state significant money in the petition validation process.