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Iowa ballot features Presidential nominees from six non-major parties

BY BRENT GRIFFITHS | OCTOBER 10, 2012 6:30 AM

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Voters in Iowa will cast their ballots on Nov. 6 for the next president of the United States. Beyond the two major candidates, third-party and write-in candidates navigate a series of requirements across the state and country in hopes that a pencil mark, lever, or punch-out is cast in their favor.

Iowa has six presidential nominees not including the two from the major parties on this year’s ballot. Across the country, Colorado has the most third-party nominees with 13, according to a sample ballot.

“People might vote for them if they’re unhappy, but everyone knows that they’re throwing their votes away,” said Caroline Tolbert, a University of Iowa professor of political science.

Experts believe Iowa’s number of third-party candidates was more closely related to state policies and not Iowa’s stance from the first-in-the-nation caucuses or view as a battleground state.  An expert from University of Virginia Center for Politics felt this view applied across the country as well.

“[I think] it depends on ballot restrictions, and Virginia has some onerous ballot restrictions in the country,” said Kyle Kondik, an analyst at the center. According to a sample ballot, Virginia has three third-party presidential nominees.

An official from the Green Party, one of the parties whose nominee is on Iowa’s ballot, believes that Iowa’s ballot-access requirements were better than other state policies across the country.

“The system across this country sucks,” said Holly Hart, the secretary for the Iowa Green Party. “Iowa is one of the better states, but I wouldn’t say we’re an easy state.”

Hart believes that Iowa’s signature requirement of 1,500 legal-age Iowa residents from across at least 10 counties is slightly higher than she prefers.

“Fifteen hundred can be really tough as more and more people don’t even want to sign,” she said. “We may have to bring in paid petitioners in the future to meet the requirement.”

Justin Holmes, a University of Northern Iowa associate political-science professor, believes that third parties would be better served to start at local elections before trying to field candidates on the national level.

“Instead of starting at the top, [third parties] need to start with local races, which are more winnable because the turnout is so low they could knock off a Republican or Democrat,” he said. “They could then win a couple of local races and build support for the party.”

Hart said candidates in states such as Florida need to do well so their respective party can maintain state status, and parties such as the Green Party will continue to field candidates to affect long-term policy.

“It’s further down the road, but if we can get enough votes, we can have a seat at the table,” she said.
Holmes said that it is unlikely to see a candidate achieve the role Ralph Nader played in Florida in 2000. Campaigns play closer attention to third-party nominees than most voters.

“[Most people] will say, ‘Oh my, god there are six people on the ballot that I’ve never heard of,’ and not really give them any consideration,” he said. “[Campaigns] don’t want what happened in Florida to happen to them; they don’t want to lose by 500 votes.”


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