Thursday, March 03, 2011

Free And Equal Access - Your Support Needed!

I have come across an outfit called Free and Equal, whose chief purpose is to ensure open access to the electoral process.  I met Christina Tobin, the Chairperson, at a fundraiser for the movie Electoral Dysfunction.  The movie describes the dysfunctional state of the election process.  It is not completed yet, but the expectation is that it will be ready for viewing next year.  The story behind the film is an example of the dysfunction that exists where elections are concerned.

Ms. Tobin told me about an effort in Illinois to open up the process for candidates to gain ballot access.  Currently ballot access for many, if not most, positions (regardless of the level of government) is based on petition signatures, which are a percentage of the number of voters who cast ballots in the previous election.  HB2854 offers up the opportunity for nominees to file and pay a nominating fee instead.

Provides that, in lieu of filing a petition for nomination, a candidate may pay a filing fee to the office of the State or local election official charged with accepting nomination petitions for that office. Provides that the fee shall be equal to 1% of the annual salary of the office for which the candidate is seeking nomination or $50 if the office is non-salaried.

I personally like this option.  It ends the petition signature challenges when candidates elect this option instead.  A 1% filing fee may actually be a tad low.  For a job paying $150,000 the fee would be $1,500.  I'd raise it to 3%, perhaps up to 5%.  Regardless, I think it is one way to ensure that people who wish to run for office get that opportunity.  The election occurs during the election, not during the petition gathering process.  Candidates who are capable of capturing public support will become known during the campaign season.  Tell your State Representative to give people equal opportunity at getting on the ballot.  The election will sort out who is most successful at garnering public support.  If that causes heartburn for the two major parties, so be it.

1 comment:

Fargo said...

Petition challenges have become such a standard in incumbents' bag of dirty tricks. I would love to see that particular tactic eliminated, and this would be an effective way to do it.