Fair Ballot Access for Independents and New Parties

This January 2021 Gallup poll shows that 62% of Americans believe both parties do such a poor job, we need a third party. 

 

Voters in Texas who wish to nominate independent candidates or form a new political party are subject to the most restrictive deadlines in the nation.

 

If a candidate wanted to run as an independent for Governor in 2022, he or she would have to gather 83,000+ signatures from folks who didn’t vote in the primary and collect them in just 60 days, immediately following the primary. But, if there was a runoff in either major party primary for that seat, the independent candidate would have to wait 30 days for the runoff and then get 83,000 signatures in 30 days. The cost of such a drive? Try starting at $1 million. If it’s only 30 days, double the cost. Minor parties face similar requirements but have 75 days. Their petition period is not interrupted by any runoffs.

A federal lawsuit filed in July 2019 got stuck in court during COVID. It’s now moving again to  eliminate onerous petition requirements for independents and minor party candidates. It is also challenging discriminatory filing fees for minor party candidates. 

 

Read this release for the details. And, yes, Mark Cuban is a supporter of the litigation and efforts to get the Texas Legislature pass the Texas Voter Choice Act by the Center for Competitive Democracy (CCD). Note that the suit has big pro-bono litigators from Shearman & Sterling. Shearman is donating their services to the Texas litigation led by the CCD, a great non-profit organization that leads the cause for fair ballot access reform throughout the nation. We love CCD’s slogan, “A Republic if you can keep it,” famously spoken by Ben Franklin as delegates left the Constitutional Convention in Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

The lawsuit followed two attempts to get the Legislature to pass the Texas Voter Choice Act which, if passed it, would:

  • Allows voters to sign nomination petitions online through the Secretary of State’s website.
     

  • Eliminates the primary voter screenout, thus protecting the right of Texans who may want to support one party’s candidate for president, while supporting another party’s candidates for down-ballot races.
     

  • Eliminates Statement of Intent due in December of the year prior to an election.
     

  • Reduces number of required signatures to 10,000 for statewide ballot access, 5,000 for county ballot access.

  • Adds petition language making it clear you don't have to vote for the candidate if you sign the nomination petition.
     

  • Establishes reasonable filing deadlines.
     

  • Lowers statewide ballot access to 2 percent of the vote cast for that office.

 

A little more on why the Texas Voter Choice Act is necessary:

 

Voters in Texas who wish to nominate independent candidates or form a new political party are subject to the most restrictive deadlines in the nation.

 

  • Independent candidates may not begin collecting signatures until after the primary elections, and deadlines for filing nomination petitions are unnecessarily early.
     

  • Paper-based petition drives are cumbersome, inefficient, outdated and expensive.
     

  • Texas also requires petition circulators to read an oath to prospective signers, which effectively dissuades many voters from signing.
     

  • Texas is the only (or one of the only) states that maintains this primary voter screenout – significant factor contributing to the unnecessary burden and expense of petition drives.

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