Category Archives: Independents and third parties

It’s OK to vote for someone else

Hand with ballot and boxBy Steve Brawner
© 2016 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Voters complain each presidential election about their choices, but that’s especially true this year. According to Real Clear Politics’ compilation of polls, Hillary Clinton is viewed unfavorably by 55.5 percent of voters and favorably by only 39.7 percent, while Donald Trump’s numbers are worse: 61.1 percent to 33.4 percent unfavorable to favorable.

These are historic numbers, and they could get worse. When candidates’ negatives are so hopelessly high, they respond by trying to drive up their opponents’ unfavorables and, if necessary, win by becoming the lesser of two evils. Both campaigns will unleash a torrent of negative ads. Both have plenty to work with.

If you’re like many Arkansas voters, you may have said you’ll just write in somebody else’s name. Unfortunately, there is no provision in the law for you to do that in the presidential race.

Libertarians, Greens better choice than death

Hand with ballot and boxBy Steve Brawner
© 2016 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

The first line of an actual recent obituary reads, “Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Noland of Richmond (Virginia) chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God on Sunday, May 15, 2016, at the age of 68.”

If only she had known she had other choices.

Those would include the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, and assorted others.

Let’s focus this column on the Libertarians, Arkansas’ most active third party. If you’re not familiar, it’s the one that says it’s for less government and actually, really, really means it. The Libertarians would cut social programs, including the popular ones, and they support gun rights. But cutting government also means shrinking the military, and they also would remove government from people’s personal decisions, which means they’d legalize marijuana and end the drug war. The party’s chairman in Arkansas, economist Dr. Michael Pakko, describes the party as a combination of small government constitutionalists, anarchists who want virtually no government, and “minanarchists” who fall somewhere in between.

Squashing the wrong problems

By Steve Brawner
© 2015 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

You know when you’re on your porch, and you notice a spider crawling by, but then you look closer and realize it’s not a black widow or a brown recluse, so it’s not poisonous, but then you wonder if maybe you could be wrong, so therefore it could be a threat, and plus it’s a nuisance? Those things multiply, and maybe they’ll get into the house, so you squash it just to be sure.

That’s kind of what the state’s establishment has done to independent candidates in Arkansas.

This past week, District Judge James Moody ruled in a case, Moore v. Martin, in favor of a 2013 law that requires independents to submit their required signatures – 3 percent of the voters in the last election, or 10,000 in statewide races – to the secretary of state by the end of the filing period. In a typical year, that’s the beginning of March.

Taking stock of third parties, independents

By Steve Brawner
© 2015 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Three events have occurred the past two weeks that are noteworthy, particularly for the growing number of voters who call themselves independents and the small percentage who actually vote for candidates who are not Republicans or Democrats.

First, on May 29, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law a bill moving Arkansas’ 2016 primary elections from May to March 1. The stated goal was to include Arkansas early with other Southern states in the so-called “SEC primary” so the state would have more of a say in who the Democrats and Republicans nominate for president. It might help Mike Huckabee in his campaign a little by giving him an early state win.