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August 28, 2008

Bob Barr: The Lone Candidate in the Lone Star State

by Stephen Littau

As with most third party campaigns, the Barr/Root campaign has had an uphill battle to make the ballot in certain states. In Texas, however, Bob Barr is the only presidential candidate on the ballot. The McCain and Obama campaigns have failed to meet the August 26th deadline to file the necessary paperwork and are not even listed as possible write-in candidates.

Bob Barr’s campaign manager, Russ Verney, doesn’t for a second believe that Texas will uphold its law to keep McCain and Obama off the ballot:

“We know all about deadlines,” says Verney. “We are up against them constantly in our fight to get on the ballot across the nation. When we miss deadlines, we get no second chances. This is a great example of how unreasonable deadlines chill democracy.”

“Republicans and Democrats make certain that third party candidates are held to ballot access laws, no matter how absurd or unreasonable,” says Verney. “Therefore, Republicans and Democrats should be held to the same standards.”

In another press release, Verney elaborated more on this Texas two-step around the state law:

“According to Texas Election Code § 192.031 , a political party is allowed to have their candidates on the ballot if “the names of the party’s nominees for president and vice-president” are submitted before “5 p.m. of the 70th day before” the presidential election.

Given that neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party nominated a candidate before Aug. 26, it would be impossible for either party to file under Texas law.

A spokesperson for the Texas Secretary of State’s Office claims that both parties “filed something” on time, despite the fact that neither party had nominated a candidate by the deadline as required by Texas law.

“We agree that unreasonably early deadlines are absurd,” says Verney. “We’ve run into them in states like Oklahoma, West Virginia and Maine during our fight for ballot access across the nation. But if third parties are required to adhere to the law, then we expect the same for the candidates of any other party. Maybe this will show Republicans and Democrats what it is like to be on the wrong side of ballot access laws.”

It doesn’t take a Harvard law degree to know that the Barr/Root campaign has a legitimate case here. If we were truly governed by the rule of law as opposed to the rule of men then there is no question that Bob Barr should be the only choice on the Texas ballot (I sincerely hope that the Barr/Root campaign challenges the Texas Secretary of State Office and/or the McCain and Obama campaigns in court if only to make a point and perhaps grab some headlines).

Upon reading this, it occurred to me that perhaps a good solution to improve informed voting would be to require all candidates for all offices to be write-in candidates. This would mean that in order to vote, the voter would at least have to know the name of his/her preferred candidate. If the candidates have campaigned effectively, then their supporters should have no problem writing their names next to the office.* This would at least disenfranchise the most illiterate and most ignorant individuals from inflicting their illiteracy and ignorance on the rest of us.

*Even if the requirements were very liberal with misspellings this would be better than voters looking for the “R” or the “D” knowing nothing else about the candidates. Hell, I get the squiggly red underline every time I type “Obama” in Word. As long as the write-in is phonetically close enough to determine voter intent, such a policy would be more than sufficient. Having said that, I don’t believe that writing “the old guy,” “the black guy,” “the Democrat/Republican/Libertarian” should be considered as that would defeat the purpose of having a minimum standard for informed voting.

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6 Comments

  1. The August 26 deadline is for independent and third party candidates. Texas Election Code – Section 192.031

    Since the D’s and the R’s have statewide organizations, nominate by convention, and have each had “a nominee for a statewide office who received a number of votes equal to at least five percent of the total number of votes received by all candidates for that office,” Texas Election Code Section 181.005 applies.

    Don’t worry. John McCain and Barry Obama will both be on the ballot, and the state of Texas won’t have to break any rules to make it happen.

    Comment by thomasblair — August 28, 2008 @ 9:36 pm
  2. [...] Bob Barr: The Lone Candidate in the Lone Star State thelibertypapers.org [...]

    Pingback by chennaibangaloremumbaidelhi.com » Blog Archive » Obama - how old he is! — August 28, 2008 @ 11:42 pm
  3. @thomasblair
    Your argument there fails. If the R’s are required to nominate by convention, then they would need to demonstrate they had 43,992 (at least one percent of the total number of votes received by all candidates for governor in the most recent gubernatorial general election) people participate in their precinct conventions… For Tarrant County (Fort Worth) to have done its part, it would have had to of had 3,263 participate…it had less than 2,100. oops.

    However this is wrong. The R’s and D’s are required to nominate by primary under Chapter 171.

    Comment by Chris — August 29, 2008 @ 12:32 am
  4. thomasblair Chapter 181 only refers to county/state precinct conventions. They cannot avoid the Chapter 192 deadline.

    Comment by Anonymous — August 29, 2008 @ 5:13 am
  5. 181.005 is an additional requirement beyond the 70 day dead line. 192.31 states that the D’s and the r’s must file 70 days before the presidential election and meet the conditions of 181

    Comment by Steve — August 29, 2008 @ 6:42 am
  6. Wow, look at that! The TX SOS knew before the rest of the world that Palin would be on the ballot at McCain’s VP! And with papers filed before 5 pm on Tuesday, the TX sos, and chair of the TX GOP knew that Palin would be chosen to be the VP.

    That’s incredible considering there’s no laws that allow for substitutions and there’s no laws that allow for amending a filing.

    Comment by Brad Forschner — August 29, 2008 @ 4:03 pm

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