Lone Star State, Lone Presidential Candidate?

Yesterday, Ballot Access News reported that BOTH the Republicans and Democrats had missed the filing deadline for their candidates, John McCain (presumptive) and Barack Obama (official), in the state of Texas. Late in the afternoon, after many third party watch groups and blogs reported the story and the Bob Barr campaign sent out a press release to all of his supporters, Fort Worth’s Star-Telegram political blog, PoliTex, reported that “[b]oth parties filed before the deadline. We expect their amended filings after both parties finish their nominating process at the conventions,” according to the Texas Secretary of State’s spokesperson, Ashley Burton. The website for the Secretary of State’s General Election candidates also displays a blank where one would anticipate seeing John McCain and Barack Obama, along with their respective running mates.

 

As of the publication of this article, that website still does not list either ticket from the status quo parties. This story has yet to be picked up by anyone in the mainstream media, since they are all in Denver awaiting a picturesque oratory from Barack “The Chosen One” Obama. I fully expect that it will be swept under the rug without a full-court press by the third parties and bloggers who are sympathetic to their ballot access woes.

What does this inaction mean for voters in Texas, as well as the other 49 states?

  1. If the deadline was actually missed AND is unchallenged, Bob Barr/Wayne Allyn Root ticket would be the only one qualified to be pre-printed on the ballot in the state, along with the option to write-in one of the six candidates who qualified and filed on time. This would effectively eliminate 34 electoral votes from the scenarios both campaigns are looking at to determine their strategies to achieve the 270 needed to secure the election. Specifically for John McCain, this would eliminate a traditionally Republican state from his plans, especially with the outgoing president having been the governor there prior to his eight years in the White House. 270 electoral votes would be much harder to achieve without these 34. Barack Obama can stick to his original plan, as I am sure Texas was not a part of it.

  2. If the deadline was actually missed, and either or both of the status quo parties acknowledge the state law, there may be a legal battle. That legal battle will bring into question the validity of such a deadline in qualifying candidates for ballot access. Should a court find this deadline arbitrary and invalid, that decision would help many third party candidates in their quests for ballot access. Specifically, several states in this general election have lawsuits before them arguing this point on behalf of the Libertarian Party. Russell Verney, the Barr/Root campaign manager, was quoted as saying “We know all about deadlines. We are up against them constantly in our fight to get on the ballot across the nation. When we miss deadlines, we get no second chances. This is a great example of how unreasonable deadlines chill democracy. Republicans and Democrats make certain that third party candidates are held to ballot access laws, no matter how absurd or unreasonable. Therefore, Republicans and Democrats should be held to the same standards.” Unfortunately, holding the Republicans and Democrats to this deadline would mean sacrificing positions in lawsuits in other states.

  3. The most likely of scenarios is that this “mistake” will be forgiven without any acknowledgement by either party or the mainstream media. As we have seen in the update by the Star-Telegram, the Secretary of State’s office backtracked yesterday afternoon. This shows me that someone alerted the duopoly, and either one of both of the parties flexed their muscles to make such a quick dismissal. Quelling this story before it gains ground makes it easier for both parties to ignore the mistake and move past it. My advice is for the Texas Libertarian Party to file suit to close the door, rather than allowing a repeat of 1988’s mistake with Indiana, where the suit was “filed too late” to keep the candidates off the ballot. They should also publicly request the proof of receipt by both status quo parties to show the actual date of filing.

The real question here is whether the double standard for the political duopoly to have its cake in Texas, while being able to eat it in states like West Virginia, will be able to stand. That two-party stranglehold on American government relies on their ability to play the game by a different set of rules than everyone else. For the 2008 general election, Libertarians, Greens, Constitutionalists, Socialists, and anyone else organized enough to petition for ballot access, must each provide 867,134 unique signatures nation-wide endorsing their candidate, while Republicans and Democrats do not need to turn in any signatures to secure ballot access.

So, how many Presidential candidates do you think will be on the Texas ballot in November?


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