by Joshua Cook

October 14, 2013

Since 2008, the idea of third parties started to gain more popularity across America.  Principled conservatives and libertarians united against both the Democrat and Republican establishment started to explore methods of opposing Washington elites and the status quo.


The Tea Party had some success – and has continued most successfully – with primary campaigns which put principled people like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul in races as the Republican candidate.  Once they won the GOP nomination, winning the general election was often pretty straightforward.


Yet many liberty activists have become disenchanted by the two party system and are turning to other options. Third parties have been the other option, employed for a variety of reasons both practical and ideological for many voters.




Third parties are becoming more popular in the U.S.


In 2012, both the Libertarian Party and the Constitution Party executed impressive grassroot campaigns to get their candidates on the ballot in most states. Both parties created milestones by debating each other on a national stage, the first ever third party presidential debate, moderated by Larry King. In this historic event, many Americans heard their message for the first time, while streaming live over the internet. Third parties around the country are gaining momentum because there is a growing outcry for real political change and people want more options than just a two party system in American.


In 2010, for instance, the American Constitution Party earned major party status in Colorado when its gubernatorial candidate earned more votes than GOP candidate Dan Maes.  After Maes suffered a series of scandals, it became apparent he could not win, and he refused to drop out of the race.  His primary opponent, Tom Tancredo, who had stayed on the ballot as the ACP candidate, quickly became more popular, and may have won if Maes hadn’t siphoned just enough votes away to seal a victory for Democrat John Hickenlooper.

It’s in this environment that the Ohio State Senate has passed this bill which would essentially eliminate all third party candidates from ballots.  In the bill, only candidates from parties which earned 3% or more of the vote in a presidential election would be placed on the ballot; all other candidates would be write-in options.  Newly qualifying parties must also submit petitions with at least 55,809 valid signatures.

The bill would, in many ways, solidify the placement of the Democrat and Republican parties at the center of American politics.  Voters must look up and remember the names – something which should be simple but many people simply vote party line, and this will create a discrepancy amongst parties – and write-in candidates must apply to be counted.  Write-in votes are also counted much more slowly than others, if at all, meaning they will not be discussed in the initial analysis of election results.


In addition, many third parties choose to build support by running in small, local campaigns before progressing to expensive and challenging presidential elections, but the Ohio bill only bases its judgment on presidential elections.  Any third party candidate from a party which chooses to focus its limited time and money on winnable campaigns would be at an immediate disadvantage.


Many Americans who want limited government are dissatisfied with both parties. They feel there is no real opposition party that seeks a responsible fiscal policy. Establishment Republicans are threatened by the growing competition from tea party supporters and liberty activists who are say they may support a third-party challenger to incumbent moderate Republicans.


A statement from the Libertarian Party of Ohio’s website says, “The bottom line is that the John Kasich Re-election Protection Act would disenfranchise every Ohio voter by taking away their right to vote for a candidate for governor other than a) John Kasich, a governor who has miserably failed the state of Ohio and betrayed millions of fiscal conservatives who expected him to follow Ohio law and oppose Obamacare, or b) the nominee of the other big-government party who is promising to double down on most of Kasich’s failing policies.”


If Ohio’s proposed law passes it will be yet another rule which helps the establishment maintain power.  The Ohio bill will have a similar effect of creating different standards for different candidates in America’s democratic process.