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Bob Barr Wins Texas!

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In a surprising development, it appears that scrappy little Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr may have essentially won the presidential election in Texas by default. It seems that the two major parties failed to file their candidate selections with the Secretary of State by the statutory deadline, with the result that by law they cannot appear on the ballot, even as write-ins. In a press release on Wednesday Barr's campaign manager, Russell Verney said: "Unless the state of Texas violates its own election laws, Congressman Barr will be the only presidential candidate on the ballot…Texas law makes no exceptions for missing deadlines."

It seems like an extraordinary oversight to fail to register your candidates in the state with the second-most electoral votes (34), but apparently circumstances conspired against Obama and McCain. First, the nominating conventions were held much later than usual this year, so candidates were not formally selected before the deadline. Second, in 2005, after the last presidential election, the Texas legislature changed the filing deadline from 60 days in advance of the election date, to 70 days in advance of the election date. To be eligible, the candidates would have had to file by August 26th, a deadline which they appear not to have met.

This assumes that the information from the Barr campaign is correct. The Texas Secretary of State is not required to certify the filings until 8 days after the filing deadline, so the official list of candidates may not be an accurate source of information. I have a call in to the Secretary of State's office to confirm that the two major candidates did not file by the deadline. However, the Barr campaign was reachable, and their Media Coordinator told me that they had talked to the Secretary of State and verified the situation, so it sounds legitimate.

Obviously, the Democratic and Republican parties in Texas will do everything they can to straighten out this mess, and they have a reasonable argument that the deadline was unfair, since their candidates weren't even officially selected in time to file. If they go to court they can probably win a change on that basis, and the Barr campaign does not intend to oppose their efforts to get on the ballot, because they believe that more choices work to the benefit of the voters.

This situation does raise important questions about the issue of ballot access and unreasonable measures taken by some states against third party and independent candidates. As events unfold in Texas, the Barr campaign has been fighting for ballot access in a number of states, including states with strong Libertarian constituencies, like West Virginia and Maine which have very early election deadlines or extremely challenging filing requirements, usually requiring huge numbers of voter signatures. Barr is currently on the ballot in 41 states and expects eventually to be listed in 48 states, at considerable expense, and after filing lawsuits in several cases.

As usual, the Libertarian Party will be on the ballot in more states than any other third party, and will be running far more more local candidates than anyone but the two big parties. Barr is currently polling at 6% nationwide, and in double digits in some states, according to the latest Zogby poll. That a party and candidate with this much support should be having trouble getting on the ballot in many states, and will likely not be included in any of the presidential debates, raises serious concerns about the stranglehold which the two incumbent parties have on the electoral process.

The bizarre situation in Texas ought to be sending us all a message. If the major parties can't even file properly under their own electoral rules, then perhaps it's time to make those rules more reasonable and open up the electoral process to give the people more of a voice.

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About Dave Nalle

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    That a party and candidate with this much support should be having trouble getting on the ballot in many states, and will likely not be included in any of the presidential debates, raises serious concerns about the stranglehold which the two incumbent parties have on the electoral process.

    Dave, your words inspire me. I have my concerns. I raise them over and over again. We’ve got a system that is not flawed, it’s impotent. Obama tells us we’re the envy of the world. We’re not. If I were Mr. Barr I would demand a U.N. appointed group of independent observers come Election Day. We’ve had no problem imposing our “independent observers” across the globe to enforce fair elections. What a joke. We’re trotting across the globe trying to insure fair equitable elections when we haven’t a clue on how to administer a fair election in these United States of America.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Well, we may be the envy of the world, but not for our deeply fucked up electoral system. And the irony is that NONE of these screwed up procedures are specified in the Constitution and they could be changed, redesigned or done away with if there was any real effort at reform. Only the electoral college system – which I don’t really have a problem with – is Constitutionally required. The current mess is the direct product of the ‘baneful effects of the spirit of party’ which Washington warned us about 212 years ago. The parties are NOT our government, even if they think that they are.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    The only people in the world who envy us these days are Third World wretches like the Cubans who risk their lives crossing the Florida Straits in inner tubes, and the poverty-stricken Latin American campesinos sneaking across the border.

    Nobody in the First World envies US anymore; most of them are better off than we are.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Oh, I’m fairly certain McCain and Obama will find their way onto general election ballots in Texas come November. But this is still an interesting story. Thanks for the info, Dave.

    “Nobody in the First World envies US anymore; most of them are better off than we are.”

    I fully disagree with this. While Democrats talk of “the Bush recession” (despite a respectable 3.3% GDP growth last quarter), much of the rest of the First World appears to be headed towards a full-blown recession.

    From The Economist (dead-tree edition):

    GDP growth, percent change on previous quarter, at an annual rate, for the second quarter of 2008:

    Japan -2.4%
    Canada -0.3%
    The EU (total) -0.8%
    France -1.2%
    Germany -2.0%
    Italy -1.1%
    The Netherlands -0.2%
    Denmark -2.4%
    Sweden -0.1%
    Singapore -6.6%
    The UK +0.8%
    Spain +0.4%
    UNITED STATES +1.9 (and this was before the revised, and upgraded, economic numbers came in)

    Yes, we certainly have our problems. And so does everyone else…

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Dave,

    I was frankly shocked at some of those poll numbers listed in the article you linked to. Who knew Bob Barr was so popular in Ohio, of all places? (Nevada and New Hampshire make more sense to me.)

    I still don’t believe he’ll get more than 3% or so nationally, unless McCain chooses Lieberman or some other Democrat as his running mate. But even a small percentage could flip Ohio, New Hampshire, and/or Nevada to Obama. Troubling stuff.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Troubling, but also encouraging. If he does raise Libertarian numbers substantially, that will encourage them to continue to go more mainstream and become more of a viable party. Maybe 4 or 8 years down the road with Jeff Flake or Mark Sanford as their nominee they might become real contenders.

    BTW, RJ only alluded to it, but here in the middle of a supposed ‘recession’ the GDP was up 3.3% for the last quarter. Very bad news for the Dems desire to run on an economic doom and gloom message.

    Dave

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    “Troubling, but also encouraging. If he does raise Libertarian numbers substantially, that will encourage them to continue to go more mainstream and become more of a viable party. Maybe 4 or 8 years down the road with Jeff Flake or Mark Sanford as their nominee they might become real contenders.”

    That would be a good thing, in the medium to long term. I’m concerned about the short term, though… :-/

    “BTW, RJ only alluded to it, but here in the middle of a supposed ‘recession’ the GDP was up 3.3% for the last quarter. Very bad news for the Dems desire to run on an economic doom and gloom message.”

    Meh. Democrats and their MSM allies never allow facts to get in the way of a good doom-and-gloom class-warfare storyline…

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    In the short term we’re probably fucked, RJ.

    Dave

  • Zak Carter

    The differences between McCain and Obama are minimal, when you consider that both believe big government can save you from yourself, and that we can save other nations from themselves as well. I will not play along with the game of lesser of two evils, as I believe that is part of what has plunged this nation into the mess we find ourselves today.

    Please visit bobbarr2008.com and give liberty a voice in the Presidential debates and beyond.

  • Clavos

    RJ,

    I wasn’t simply referring to an economic comparison, but to the overall wellbeing of First World societies around the globe vis-a-vis the US, as perceived by them.

    I was responding to a line about the US being the envy of the world, which I contend is no longer the case; residents of countries like Australia, New Zealand, the EU countries, and the more developed Asian countries no longer envy US, because they consider themselves better off (and not just economically) than us.

    We are no longer “the envy of the world,” except in our own minds.

  • http://www.nolanchart.com/article4627.html Jonathan

    Please read my article and Please click on THUMBS UP

    Also, the campaign is in need of money to spread the message of less government. Please if you get paid, please donate $25 today at bobbarr2008.com

  • http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/39420/joanne_huspek.html Joanne Huspek

    This is looks like it’s going to be a banner year for voting your conscience.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Conscience, indeed. Unlike Obama, McCain once again proves that he’s a risk taker. On this, his 72nd birthday, he reminds those of us who once believed that it IS possible to go back to the GOP roots. The party of Lincoln has been ransacked and all but ruined by the Rove-led Bush machine. John McCain’s choice, from the GOP perspective, definitely reminds those of us who have walked away that YES WE CAN! Yes, all of us who have been left disillusioned by the Bush years, we can take our party back.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Clavos,

    Okay, gotcha.

    But our wonderful European “allies” have been sneering at us and denouncing us for, what? Four decades now? So I’m pretty sure we haven’t been “the envy of the world” for a long time now (assuming we ever were).

    But then, that raises the question: If not us, who? Cuba? North Korea? Red China? An aging/dying and impotent EU? A resurgent Russia? Who?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Why does it have to be anyone, RJ?