Elections Should be Free and Equal

May 9, 2011 Posted by zachary

I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free in deed; and the law also maketh you free.

Never the Less, when the wicked rule the people mourn.

Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil. (Doctrine and Covenants 98:8-10)

We oppose laws that effectively exclude alternative candidates and parties, deny ballot access, gerrymander districts, or deny the voters their right to consider all legitimate alternatives. (Libertarian Platform 3.6)

As a Latter-day Saint, we are asked to vote for honest people who reflect our values and ideals. How are we to do so when those people are blocked from being on the ballot? Many states have laws that restrict the formation of new parties and make campaigning more costly for those who are not in favor with the government.

For example, Oklahoma is often described as the state with the most restrictive ballot access laws in the country. In order to form a new party in Oklahoma, a new party must petition the people and gather a signature requirement that is equal to 5% of all voters in the last general election, either Presidential or Gubernatorial. This means that in order to form a new party for the coming presidential elections, a party must gather over 52,000 signatures. This prior election for Governor would have required over 70,000.

Not only is the base requirement high, parties often have to gather 50% more than the base requirement in order to account for all the signatures that will be invalidated for some reason or another. This effectively blocks the formation of new parties. Oklahoma has not had a party aside from the Democratic or Republican parties for over 50 years. They have also successfully blocked Independent presidential candidates over the years as well. Oklahoma is the only the state that did not have a third option in 2000 or 2008.

How can someone follow the commandment of God and vote for the most honest and wise person for office if such a person cannot run because of these kinds of laws?

For another example we have the State of Arizona. Arizona has a law, currently challenged in the Supreme Court, that makes campaigning for office more difficult unless you want to use solely state tax payer money.

This law forces all candidates to use state money or their opponents will be given matching funds. This means that if you choose not to accept state funds for your campaign, any money you or anyone you support (whether they are speaking for you or not) beyond what the state has given to your publicly financed opponent, they will match that spending for your opponent.

What this does is effectively restrict the ability for an privately funded candidate from speaking in order to not give their opponent a leg up in the race. Not only does it punish a privately funded candidate from raising and spending money on their campaign, it also punishes the candidate for money raised and spent by third parties that have no relation with the candidate.

With these two examples, and I can assure you there are plenty more where these came from, the people are restricted from voting for the person whom they feel is the most honest and wise men and women and are left with, as the saying goes, “the lesser of two evils.”

As a Latter-day Saint and a Libertarian, we should be seeking to abolish all such laws so that our choice in elections are not artificially limited by those who would seek to restrict our freedoms.

For more information on Ballot Access Reform and Campaign Finance Reform please visit Free and Equal.

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