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20 September 2010

Introducing The Georgia Voter Choice Act

Sunday, Washington Post staff writer Chris Cillizza reported that voters don't care much for the Democratic or Republican parties these days.

What happens if they hold an election in which voters don't like either of their choices?

We'll find out in 43 days, as poll after poll shows that both national parties are deeply unpopular with an electorate looking for something new and different. Democrats have suffered from being the majority party for the past 20 months - in control of political Washington and expected to do more by voters who elected President Obama to change the culture in the nation's capital. But Republicans are not offering much that will earn them credit in the eyes of most voters, either.

Cillizza, Chris (2010-9-19). As November nears, voters turn backs on both parties. Washington Post. Retrieved on 2010-9-20.

People are angry at the Democrats because of their arrogant overreaching in the halls of Congress and the White House. And people are angry at the GOP for being the so-called "Party of No."

Unfortunately, for most voters across the country, their choice at the ballot box is limited to a "D" or an "R". So to answer Chris Cillizza's question, what happens if they hold an election in which voters don't like either of their choices? Put simply, the voters hold their nose and cast their ballots for the lesser of two evils.

That isn't right, and that certainly does not keep with the competitive spirit of America.

Our government, in the past, broke up huge monopolies such as the Bell System in order to promote competition in the marketplace. Yet, when it comes to elections, the government sanctions a two-party monopoly that stifles competition.

Seeking to break up this Democratic/Republican monopoly on elections, early Monday morning I did my research and found the section of Georgia law that defines a political party.

O.C.G.A 21-2-2 reads as follows:

(25) 'Political party' or 'party' means any political organization which at the preceding:

(A) Gubernatorial election nominated a candidate for Governor and whose candidate for Governor at such election polled at least 20 percent of the total vote cast in the state for Governor; or

(B) Presidential election nominated a candidate for President of the United States and whose candidates for presidential electors at such election polled at least 20 percent of the total vote cast in the nation for that office.

There are only two political organizations that meet that twenty percent threshold -- the Democratic and Republican parties of Georgia.

All other political organizations have to register with the Secretary of State; file a nominating petition signed by voters equal in number to 1 percent of the registered voters who were registered and eligible to vote in the preceding general election; and then work their collective butts off to get 1 percent of the state-wide just to maintain their organization's ballot access.

But it doesn't stop there.

Even after collecting all those signatures, and getting 1 percent of the vote state-wide, a political organization doesn't get to run their candidates for Congress, state House or state Senate unless they collect even more signatures.

In district-office races, such as for the General Assembly and U.S. House, third parties are required to collect petition signatures equal to 5 percent of the registered voters in the district. No third-party candidate has appeared on the ballot in Georgia for the U.S. House of Representatives since the 5 percent requirement became law in 1943.

Shock, David R. (2004-6-15). Third Parties. The New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved on 2010-9-20.

Can anyone say this process promotes competition? Can anyone say that any part of this process give Georgians more choice at the ballot box?

To quote U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R - Ohio), "hell no you can't!"

So Monday morning, I wrote a bill.

It's a simple, one-page bill that re-defines what a political party is in the state of Georgia. If a political organization can convince the voters to sign their nominating petition; if a political organization can garner 1% of the state-wide vote, then they are a political party entitled to full ballot access across the state.

That's what my bill, the Georgia Voter Choice Act, does.

Now, which legislator --Democrat or Republican-- has the guts to introduce the bill when the General Assembly convenes next January?