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Nader fails, Nader sues

Ralph Nader has filed suit after failing to collect enough signatures to secure a spot on the Texas ballot in November.

Nader filed a federal lawsuit in Austin challenging Texas ballot access rules as the deadline passed for him to gather enough signatures to get on the state ballot this year as an independent.

He needed 64,076 signatures of registered voters who didn’t vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary this spring. He missed that mark by about 10,000, according to the lawsuit.

Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese said the lawsuit challenges as unconstitutional state law that gives independent candidates less time to amass petitions than alternative political parties.

Independent candidates have a 60-day window to gather petitions with signatures equal to one percent of the number of Texans who voted in the last presidential election.

Alternative parties have two weeks longer to get 20,000 fewer signatures. The Green, Libertarian and Reform parties have mounted petition drives to get on the Texas ballot.

“Democracy is under assault in Texas,” Nader said in a prepared statement. “Through unconstitutional laws and denial of access to public places, Texas voters are being denied more voices and more choices.

“One of the goals of this campaign is to open up the ballot in Texas not only for this campaign but for future campaigns by other candidates.”

Secretary of State Geoff Connor, defendant in Nader’s suit as the state’s top election official, said that the state’s courts have upheld the Texas law that determines how independent and alternative party candidates get on the ballot.

Conner said that other independent presidential candidates have made the ballot in Texas — Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996 and Pat Buchanan in 2000.

“Repeat litigation is regrettable, but we will certainly defend state election law,” Connor said in a statement.

Right offhand, I’ll simply note that Nader could have run as a Green again and taken advantage of their status as a party to gain access to the ballot more easily. Of course, he wasn’t a real Green in 2000, at least according to their respective platforms, and he did nothing for them in terms of party building. He’s a lone wolf in this election, and he failed to fulfill the requirements.

I don’t really have a problem with those requirements, either. They are a bit steep, but so what? Running for President is not a triviality. I could live with more lenient rules, and I could live with less lenient rules, but I don’t see any good reason to invalidate the rules as they are. I’m willing to bet the courts will see it that way as well, though of course you never know.

One more thing:

Zeese said that in 2000, Nader challenged ballot application laws in eight states. He was on the ballot in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

And I daresay that he failed in those challenges, for otherwise his spokesperson would have trumpeted his wins against The Man. Thanks for playing, Ralph.

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6 Comments

  1. Jim D says:

    Moreover, Kuff, the requirement is to get on the ballot so that people too lazy to write-in vote can simply check off a box.

    Listen people, even if Ralph Nader isn’t on your ballot, you can still write him in.

    And I’d imagine that even if you’re dumb enough to vote for Nader again, you’re still capable of reading and writing, right?

    Move along people, nothing to see here.

  2. Jack Cluth says:

    Thanks for playing, Ralph…now, please don’t let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out, ‘kay?? Buh-bye, now….

  3. Tim says:

    Though never a Nader supporter, as a proponent of third parties in general and sometime supporter of Libertarian candidates, I resent the idea of a Nader vote being a “dumb” one. Rather, I think the system is “dumb” for locking the electorate into only two choices year after year.

    The 2000 Presidential election set third parties back several decades, I think. A lot of effort has been made to convince people that a third party vote isn’t a wasted vote, and there are at least a few examples of strong third-party candidates influencing runoffs. The 1992 Georgia Senate race is a perfect example of this, when the 3% Libertarian vote came out on one side to turn a 49-48% deficit into a 51-49% victory in the runoff for the late Paul Coverdell over Wyche Fowler.

    What happened in 2000 wiped all of that out and then some.

    As long as there are elections which can be won with a plurality rather than a majority — where no runoffs are required — the true choices of the people can’t be known. I suspect there’s a LOT more support for third parties out there among independents than can be seen in the polling results. Find a way to make that vote not a “wasted” one or not one to help the candidate they most despise, and maybe we’d get a real idea about what people think of the two-party stranglehold.

    Give us instant transferrable runoff voting NOW. End the “lesser of two evils” voting scheme. Any state can do this, as the Constitution gives the state the power to determine how it chooses its electors for president (Article II, Section 1, Clauses 2 and 3). Any state that had this wouldn’t have to *worry* about the Nader vote, because it would almost always transfer to Kerry before it transfers to Bush.

    So sure, *this* year, curse Nader all you want, especially in the swing states (Texas is pretty irrelevant here.) But I’d prefer a future which can’t let him be a “spoiler” and which doesn’t force people to vote for Tweedledumb or Tweedledumber just because they have a “D” or an “R” next to their name.

  4. Steve Bates says:

    “I resent the idea of a Nader vote being a “dumb” one.” – Tim

    “and which doesn’t force people to vote for Tweedledumb or Tweedledumber” – Tim

    So let me get this straight… calling someone dumb for being a Democrat or Republican is OK, but calling someone dumb for voting for Nader is offensive. Yeah, right. I am a great believer in, and a frequent provider of, political snarkiness, but please don’t assert that ours stinks and yours doesn’t.

    BTW, I’d love to see instant runoff voting implemented, but I’m not holding my breath.

  5. Tim says:

    So let me get this straight… calling someone dumb for being a Democrat or Republican is OK, but calling someone dumb for voting for Nader is offensive. Yeah, right. I am a great believer in, and a frequent provider of, political snarkiness, but please don’t assert that ours stinks and yours doesn’t.

    No, Steve, you’re reading WAY too much into this. Not all races are between Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber, but when they ARE, at least in the opinion of any individual voter, doesn’t it suck that most people still feel compelled to choose between those two, and that they’re legitimately and understandably reluctant to vote for another candidate whom they actually *support*?

  6. Steve Bates says:

    Yes, Tim, I agree. My only objection was to the asymmetrical snark. (Sounds like some sort of small mammal, doesn’t it, doubtless documented by Dodgson!) At least both of us, having mentioned IRV while discussing Nader, will avoid the plague of frogs Charles refers to in a post upstream! 🙂