By Ann Garrison
Bernie Sanders’ defeats in the East Coast primaries have triggered a flurry of conversation about what the 25 to 35% of Sanders supporters who’ve told pollsters they will not vote for Hillary Clinton will do instead. Socialist Alternative, led by Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, and others have called for Sanders to found an independent left party for the 99% and run as an independent, or to appeal to Jill Stein and the Green Party to join their ticket, despite his oft repeated promise to endorse the Democrats’ nominee.
With little time left to get a new party on the ballot in most states, I looked into Green Party ballot access in the 50 states and spoke to Georgia Green Party activist and Black Agenda Report Managing Editor Bruce Dixon.
Ann Garrison: Bruce Dixon, the Green Party now appears on the ballot in 21 states including California and the District of Columbia, and there are ballot access drives underway in many of the others including Georgia. Can you tell us about the federal court victory you just won there?
Bruce Dixon: We won a victory in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals here in Georgia. The case has been around for, I think, eight years now and we got it reconsidered, and the court lowered the barrier of the number of signatures in Georgia from 50,000 signatures, or 1% of turnout in the last statewide election, down to 7500 signatures. The 50,000 signatures [requirement] was intended to be a barrier to keep third parties, originally back in the 1940s Democrats and Communists, off the ballot in the South. The rule was lifted briefly for Strom Thurmond when the Dixiecrats wanted to get back on the ballot, and then put back in place, but no third party has ever been able to qualify for the ballot in Georgia unless they were backed by some millionaires and billionaires. Ross Perot qualified and Libertarians have qualified a couple of times when they have got millionaire and billionaire pals of theirs to drop three, four hundred thousand dollars for them to do it.
You have a similar situation in North Carolina. In North Carolina the barrier is 90,000 signatures right now, but the court lowered the number of signatures we need to get a statewide candidate on the ballot in Georgia from 50,000, in early March, to 7500 and we feel very confident that we can make that goal.