Independent Candidates Have Higher Hurdles To Clear
Former Senator Larry Pressler and retired professor Michael Myers are running for statewide office. Pressler is running for the Senate seat held by Tim Johnson. Myers wants to be our governor. Both are running as Independents.
In South Dakota that means they have to work twice as hard to get on the ballot as members of the good old boy and girl political groups, the Republicans and Democrats.
A state law says in simple terms: In order to qualify to get on the ballot, candidates have to get valid signatures equaling one percent of the vote from their party in the previous governor election.
For a Republican that means slightly more than 1900. For a Democrat the number is a little over 1200. Not overly difficult to get when you consider the organizational structures both parties have in the state and at the county level.
HOWEVER, Independents are required to get over 3100 valid signatures to be on the same ballot!!!!!! This high number comes from adding the one percent of each party vote in the last election. It is therefore literally true that Independents have to clear a bar nearly twice as high as either party to get on the same ballot. That is outrageous !!!!!!
As citizens we complain about the lack of accomplishment of the two parties in Washington. We tire of the same rhetoric of the two parties in South Dakota. We cry for new ideas, new approaches. Yet our elected officials in Pierre have made it improbable if not impossible for new ideas and new approaches to be heard by a public clearly dissatisfied with the "same old, same old."
If people with new ideas can't get on the ballot, they can't be heard. The media don't give non candidates the time of day. Non-candidates don't get invited to forums or debates. And we don't get the chance to approve or disapprove of their ideas, because we aren't given the choice of voting for or against them.
Independents don't have conventions, meetings, don't elect chairs or committee heads. They are "Independent." We shouldn't punish them for that.
The law needs to be changed requiring fewer valid signatures to get on the ballot.
Here is my idea.
Libertarians and other third parties only need 250 valid signatures to make the ballot. The same number should be used for Independents. Two hundred and fifty valid signatures requires an effort and commitment.
The legislature is going into session next week. In theory, this idea can be heard and voted upon. In reality, i don't believe either party will embrace this new approach. They don't want to compete with people not beholding to dogma of either party.
I am going to contact my elected representatives with this idea. I will talk about it on Viewpoint University. I hope you will do the same.