Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What Value Secretary of State

A frequently asked question posed to me about running for Secretary of State is why the Indiana Libertarians put so much effort into it. For what it's worth, many friends of liberty find themselves uninspired by some of the issues associated with the office. It isn't legislative, so the spectrum of issues SOS touches is narrow.

The answer is that Indiana's election laws tie each political party's ballot status to the statewide outcome in this race. I've never received a good answer from any ranking Republican or Democrat as to why they wrote the laws that way, but we play by the rules.

As a minor party, the Libertarian Party candidate for Secretary of State always has to be mindful of at least retaining automatic ballot access, while striving for major party status, along with victory. The struggle of the Green Party shows us the value.

Bill Stant struggled long and hard to get the Green Party on the Indiana ballot. The method was to petition for enough signatures so that he could be on the ballot as a candidate for Secretary of State. Once that was achieved, he would try to get 2% statewide, thereby earning automatic ballot access for the Green Party for the next four years.

Unfortunately for Bill and his supporters, they failed to secure the required number of signatures, so he will not be on the ballot. Thus, the Greens will not have automatic ballot access. If persons wants to run as a Green Party candidate, each will have to petition individually to get on the ballot.

I have great sympathy for Bill Stant. I have done petitioning work in Ohio for the Libertarian Party. It is tiresome work and feels unrewarding, because all you are doing is getting signatures and not even talking your issues. Besides that, I believe in a fully open ballot. Let the voters decide, not the entrenched parties.

The Libertarian Party has close to 100 candidates this year. Imagine the unrewarding effort each would have had to undertake securing petition signatures if the LPIN did not have automatic ballot access. Most assuredly, there would be significantly fewer Libertarian candidates, just as there are almost no other Green candidates. Indeed- there are only six Green or independent candidates for statewide or legislative office. This shows how effective petitioning requirements are in keeping independents off the ballot.

Brad Klopfenstein once told me that the value of the petitioning effort is $80,000. To the Greens, though, I bet ballot access would be priceless.

I have made it my goal to raise $100,000 this year. I want to make sure that Indiana Libertarians should never have to worry about ballot access again, as we break through to major party status.

Even if the issues I campaign on for Secretary of State do not interest you, my success will allow about 400 other Libertarian candidates to do exactly that in the full election cycle until 2010.

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