pageok
pageok
pageok
More on LP v. Blackwell:

Yesterday's Sixth Circuit decision finding that Ohio election regulations unconstitutionally denied ballot access to the Libertarian Party is more significant than the relatively sparse press coverage would suggest. Our local paper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, only ran this small story on the decision.

As Richard Winger notes, this is the first time a minor party has won a ballot access case in a federal appeals court since 1997. This decision could also have national implications given Ohio's pivotal role in recent Presidential campaigns and increasingly purple hue. There is a Libertarian Party candidate for Governor in Ohio this year (former Case economics professor Bill Pierce), but the Libertarian candidate for President was not on the Ohio ballot in 2004, and this likely aided the re-election of President Bush. Given how disenchanted many Ohio conservatives have become with current Republican office holders, the LP may begin to cut into the GOP's support if it continues to field candidates (and Ohio Republicans continue to eschew any commitment to limited-government).

rbj:
At least your paper mentioned it. The Toledo Blade has nothing in the paper version.

And a quick check of the online version also brings up nothing.
9.7.2006 2:28pm
Third Party Beneficiary (mail):
"The Toledo Blade has nothing in the paper version."

Acknowledging that third parties exist would . . . complicate things.
9.7.2006 2:39pm
paulhager (mail) (www):
The problem with third parties is the result of the election method used in the U.S. - plurality or first-past-the-post voting. It is a particularly bad system when more than two candidates are running for the same seat. The best voting system would be Condorcet voting, a ranked system that resolves into a series of head-to-head runoffs (different from so-called "instant runoff" voting which has a number of problems making it only slightly better than plurality). A good second best voting system is approval voting, in which a single voter can vote for every candidate (s)he likes. The winner is the candidate with the most "approval" votes. It has the advantage that existing voting machines wouldn't have to be replaced with systems that allow ranked ballots. Both of these systems eliminate most of the problems associated with plurality - in particular the problem of vote splitting disappears. It's likely that viable alternative parties would evolve if Condorcet or approval were used in the U.S.

I don't expect voting reform to take place, however, because it would break the major party monopoly. Thus, "third" parties will always operate as little more than spoilers in our system. The obvious GOP response to a LP candidate on the ballot is to help a Green candidate gain access. The GOP has, in fact done this. See Santorum donors give to Green Party).
9.7.2006 2:59pm
Houston Lawyer:
I have never understood the appeal of voting for a minor party candidate who has no chance of winning. There are generally fairly significant differences between the Republican and the Democrat on the ballot. I would think that you would want to vote for or against one of these candidates. Voting for the minor party candidate is the equivalent of not voting.
9.7.2006 3:12pm
Third Party Beneficiary (mail):
"There are generally fairly significant differences between the Republican and the Democrat on the ballot."

I'd like to live in the district/county/state you live in that you actually have two major party candidates with "fairly signficant differences" and both of whom have a roughly equal chance of winning.
9.7.2006 3:32pm
ohio guy:
This is somewhat tangential, but since the original post mentioned the lack-of-LP candidate for Prez in Ohio in 2004, I'll mention it. In 04, Ralph Nader sued to get on the ballot. Secretary of State Blackwell not only rejected Nader administratively, but he and the AG fought Nader's lawsuit all the way.

This ran contrary to cynical partisan motives, as Bush would have been better off in Ohio -- THE swing state -- if Nader got on the ballot to siphon votes from Kerry.

This got little or no attention from the stolen-election conspiracy theorists. This would have been an easy thing for the GOP officeholders to cave on, as they could have preached platitudes about erring on the side of open ballot access, giving more choices, etc.

Maybe being tight on ballot access is a bad thing, but in that case, they risked Bush's re-election to stick by the letter of Ohio's tougher laws. That doesn't square with the story from the RFK types.
9.7.2006 3:32pm
Pendulum (mail):
Thank you, paulhager, for insightfully pointing out why 3rd parties are doomed to irrelevance. Another aspect which all democracies struggle with is balancing voting for individuals with voting for parties. Canadians, for example, encounter the unpleasant experience of having to often vote against a local politician whom they like, for fear of strengthening the leader of the party, whom they oppose. The U.S. solves this problem by separating Presidential elections from Congressional ones. Yet, this, too, creates frequent situations where one is voting for a candidate one despises to support the party which one prefers.

Houstonlawyer - a million reasons exist for voting for a 3rd party candidate. Perhaps the major party closest to your point of view has fielded a candidate who is corrupt, untrustworthy, or duplicitous. Perhaps you're staunchly pro-life, and it violates your conscience to vote for a pro-choice candidate, but the major party candidates are both pro-choice. Or, you simply agree with the third party, and disagree with the major two.

Kerry was almost unpleasant enough to make me vote Libertarian out of protest, and if there had been no war going on, I would have.

I'm not arguing that 3rd party votes are valuable in changing the outcome (actually, aren't they just as valuable as any other vote - that is to say, basically worthless?). But there certainly are reasons to vote for them.
9.7.2006 3:33pm
Third Party Beneficiary (mail):
Sorry for the double post, but I should add that even in the event someone lives in such an amazing world as Houston Lawyer describes, one still might find that neither major party represents one's views. (E.g., in the 2004 presidential election neither major candidate was in favor of withdrawing from Iraq, whereas almost all third party presidential candidates were.)
9.7.2006 3:35pm
U.Va. 2L (mail):
Badnarik wasn't on the ballot? I know I voted for him by absentee, but I guess I wrote him in.
9.7.2006 3:42pm
MDJD2B (mail):
Paulhager,

A multiplicity of parties do not make for effective government. Do you think the electoral system and its results in Germany, Italy, Israel, and pre-Fifth Republic France have produced effective government?
9.7.2006 3:48pm
Brian Moore (mail):
Dr. Peirce spells his name with "ei" instead of "ie." From my time at Case Western Reserve and small activity with the libertarian party there, I have only good things to say about him.
9.7.2006 3:54pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):

the LP may begin to cut into the GOP's support

They may even break the 1% limit.
9.7.2006 4:02pm
Steve:
The reality of the world is that one vote very rarely makes the difference in an election - you could go your entire life without ever voting in such an election.

If you voted for Bush in 2004, I'm not sure your vote "mattered" any more than if you had voted for Nader or even someone more obscure. The concept of "throwing your vote away" assumes that your vote has some material impact if you vote for a major-party candidate, which it doesn't except in the most extraordinary cases.

For a similar reason, I've never understood why Republicans in California or Democrats in Texas claim they are "disenfranchised" by the Electoral College just because they will never get the chance to vote for a winning candidate. That's not what the word means. If you vote for a losing candidate, you still voted. Your voice counted the same as any other.
9.7.2006 4:04pm
Gordo:
After reading a recent New Yorker article on the Ohio Republican Party, I find it incomprehensible that Ken Blackwell would have a serious chance to be elected governor, with or without the Libertarian party on the ballot.

But I've been mistaken before ...
9.7.2006 4:11pm
Still Learning:
Houston Lawyer said:

I have never understood the appeal of voting for a minor party candidate who has no chance of winning. There are generally fairly significant differences between the Republican and the Democrat on the ballot. I would think that you would want to vote for or against one of these candidates. Voting for the minor party candidate is the equivalent of not voting.

But what if you don't like either and you want to send a message that you are an active voter who is not happy with the choice. Not voting makes you look apathetic.

What we really need is the option to vote "NONE OF THE ABOVE."
9.7.2006 4:15pm
Third Party Beneficiary (mail):
"A multiplicity of parties do not make for effective government."

And here I foolishly thought that the primary point of a democratic republic was to permit voters to seek representatives who reflect their views.
9.7.2006 4:28pm
Bill R:
Houston Lawyer,

FWIW, one reason that I sometimes vote for third party candidates is to signal to the major parties where they need to go to get my vote next time. While this is not terribly effective, nor is voting for the "lesser of two evils" because that sends no clear signal as to my level of (dis)pleasure with the major party candidates.

The most important thing to most major party state and national level politicians is, IMHO, your vote. These candidates (and parties) are not nearly as concerned with how happy you were with casting that vote. I believe that voting for the "lesser of two evils" encourages the wishy-washy, take no firm stand sort of (lack) of leadership we see too often.

As science and marketing reduce the margins of victory between the major party candidates, I'm hopeful that my strategy will become more useful. An increase of 1% in the vote gained by a third party candidate in a presidential election decided by a 1% margin gives one (perhaps both) major parties a clue about what to do to improve their chances of winning next time.

My criteria for voting for a third party is simple... If it turns out that the major party candidate I "least detested" were to lose by one vote, would I still feel I did the right thing by giving a third party candidate my vote? If the answer is YES, I cast my vote for the third party candidate in hopes that four years later I will get to vote in a "higher contrast" election. Obivously my comfort level will depend on the current situation, the contrast between the major party candidates and other factors. In most cases I would feel bad if the third party candidate actually won as a result of my vote(as most of them are too idealistic for my taste) - but there's little chance of that happening.
9.7.2006 4:43pm
Toby:
Nome of the Above (NOTA) rules!

I suspect that NOTA would win more than a few elections. Like the above described Condorcet, I would like to see the candidates in any election in which NOTA won, banned from running again for 5 years and a new election called.

NOTA Bene!
9.7.2006 5:19pm
paulhager (mail) (www):
MDJD2B said:

A multiplicity of parties do not make for effective government. Do you think the electoral system and its results in Germany, Italy, Israel, and pre-Fifth Republic France have produced effective government?


I agree. However, the problem you describe is the result of proportional representation (PR), which is used extensively by parliamentary systems. I discuss this in a piece I wrote titled Why I left the Libertarian Party and joined the Republicans. I direct your attention to the three sections beginning with The narrative interrupted: why we have a two-party system in the U.S. In the last section, Weaknesses of proportional representation, I discuss the major problems with PR. Clearly a voting system that allowed the Nazis to take over the Weimar Republic with only 30% of the vote is seriously flawed - the Germans, in fact, recognized this and made changes in their post-war constitution. I also blogged about the the dangerous instabilities that exist in parliamentary systems using PR in "A problem with democracy?". I offered a modern example of another PR disaster - the big Islamist win in Turkey. No commentator explained why it was that a party that won only 34% of the vote ended up with nearly 2/3 of the seats. There have been major political ramifications of that PR failure, starting with Turkey denying passage of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division to attack Northern Iraq.

Note that the British parliamentary system, though it lacks the checks and balances of the American system, has still managed to stand the test of time. The reason is direct representation. First-past-the-post voting and single-seat representation will tend to produce a more stable electoral system - usually (but not always) a two-party system.

It is possible to have BOTH the stability of direct representation AND multiple parties by adopting a voting system that allows the "true majority" candidate or the "condorcet winner" to be found. I think thats a desirable goal for a representative democracy.
9.8.2006 10:00am