Green Party of Tenessee Applauds Federal Court’s Ballot Access Decision

On September 20, U.S. District Court Judge William J. Haynes, struck down Tennessee’s laws on how a previously unrecognized political party can get on the ballot.  The case was filed by the Libertarian, Constitution and Green Parties of Tennessee on January 23, 2008.  The decision states that the high number of signatures required for party ballot access taken together with the wording on the petition saying the signers are members of the party, along with an early filing deadline for the petition, are all unconstitutional. The judgment stated that it violates the plaintiffs’ right to vote and to associate as a political party, as well as Tennessee voters’ right of choice among political parties.

The Green Party of Tennessee is delighted that the U.S. District Court in Nashville agrees that Tennessee’s ballot access laws are not fair and have effectively kept all other parties off of the ballot.

John Miglietta

John Miglietta

John Miglietta, Green Party candidate for US House of Representatives, 5th district, said, “The Tennessee ballot access laws have been a major impediment for alternative party candidates. Candidates who represent national parties essentially get lost on the Tennessee ballot because they are lumped in as independents. Voters cannot distinguish the candidates when they are denied their party label which further increases the already overwhelming political advantages enjoyed by Democratic and Republican candidates.”

It is important that parties be identified on the ballot because they generally represent a specific philosophy and set of values that people recognize. The decision could have major implications for voters in Tennessee. Green Party candidates will benefit voters in the state by giving them more information when voting.  It would serve our state well to have more opinions and ideas from the immensely creative people of Tennessee taken into consideration.  Miglietta added that, “Having alternative parties identified on the ballot will increase participation and allow for the greater discussion of issues and policy alternatives.”

The earliest that any other parties can have ballot access is the election of 2012. The Tennessee legislature needs to revise its laws on ballot access. Switzer said, “By 2012 we hope to have a ballot line for the Green Party of Tennessee.”

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