The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

14 September 2007

Now here's some ballot access

I've complained before about the difficulty in getting access to Oklahoma ballots faced by third-party candidates, and there are at least ten good reasons to loosen up the requirements.

Chris Lawrence has linked to a sample ballot for his precinct in New Orleans, and inevitably it reflects Louisiana's unusual election system, which goes something like this:

Every state, local, and congressional election in Louisiana is decided by what's called an open primary. The rules are that all candidates for a single office, regardless of party, appear on the same ballot on Election Day, and all voters (again regardless of party) can vote for any one of them. If no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote, a runoff between the top two vote-getters takes place a month later. It's completely possible for the open primary to produce a runoff between two Democrats or between two Republicans.

Which no doubt explains why there are thirteen candidates for Governor: five Democrats, a Republican, a Libertarian, four listed as "No Party" and two as "Other."

And running for State Senator District 6 is Louisiana's answer to Virginia "Blue Jeans" Jenner, ophthalmologist Monica L. Monica, last seen (by me, anyway) running for the 1st Congressional District seat now occupied by David Vitter, who says that the only place you can get a bad meal in New Orleans is at her house, which strikes me as an odd but effective form of branding.

"Voting is hard," complains Dr Lawrence. I don't think he'd like it any better were it Oklahoma easy.

Posted at 8:02 AM to Political Science Fiction

Louisiana's system would have been better than the system that was required by statute in Alaska when Chris and I moved there in 1994, which was that all candidates were on the same ballot, but each only ran against other candidates from the same party. As a result, if there was only one Democrat but four Republicans, Democrats had an incentive to try to monkeywrench the Republican primary.

As a result, the Republicans started using a ballot that could only be voted by people who were not already registered with a party other than the GOP. There was (at the time) no statutory support for it so there were lawsuits including one, IIRC,that went all the way to SCOTUS.

My position was, of course, that the statutory system was flawed, but the separate ballot, being illegal, couldn't stand. I think the Legislature finally changed the law -- thanks to a Republican supermajority.

Posted by: McGehee at 12:30 PM on 14 September 2007