Sorry, But You’re Not One of the Important Parties

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

When the Supreme Court of Texas gave the two major parties a pass for missing the filing deadline to appear on the presidential ballot, I doubted whether a third party candidate would have been given the same deference. In fact, the Texas Supreme Court didn’t even bother to issue an opinion on LP nominee Bob Barr’s claim. They just dismissed it out of hand.

As it turns out, the Libertarian Party missed the filing deadline in neighboring Louisiana because state offices were closed that week due to Hurricane Gustav. So the state gave the Barr campaign a break, right?

Well, see for yourself.

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25 Responses to “Sorry, But You’re Not One of the Important Parties”

  1. #1 |  Andrew | 

    This is Jack’s complete lack of surprise.

    What a joke.

  2. #2 |  Ben | 


    I’m really tired of people telling me that a vote for Barr is a wasted vote. I keep telling them that I see a vote for either major candidate as a wasted vote because it’s a forgone conclusion that one of them will win, either the Republicrat or the Depublican. It doesn’t matter. It’s all the same.

    My vote for Barr is a vote to make 3rd party candidates viable.

  3. #3 |  omar | 


    I wish I could hit the “thumbs up” button a hundred times on your comment.

  4. #4 |  Brandon Bowers | 

    Bravo, Ben. So, since the rules don’t apply to Democrats or Republicans, does that make them both elitist?

  5. #5 |  Ben | 

    My ultimate dream is to see Barr get some insanely high percentage, maybe 15-18% just to show the establishment that they can screw up enough to get their asses thrown out.

    People have called me a revolutionary because I tout ridding this country of the federal government as it stands as much as I can. I’m very proud of that title.

  6. #6 |  MikeL | 

    That looks to be like a good reason to write in Barr’s name on the ballot.

  7. #7 |  John Harrold | 

    How many generations removed in Ramesh from his India? I mean it’s possible that his parents pronounce these things the same way as Obama.

  8. #8 |  Salvo | 

    A pity. I would really like to see 3rd party viability in this country–it seems the only feasible way to do it is through instant run-off voting. Most people don’t even know what instant run-off is, and any campaign to get it seems to stall. I seem to remember that San Francisco tried to start it up a few years back, but I don’t know what happened there.

    From the article, it looks like that the Barr campaign didn’t dot their I’s and cross their T’s, by turning in their application 2 days after the office reopened. When you’re already facing an uphill battle to get on the ballot because of the 2 party monopoly, that seems….unwise. It’s not right, but a court would have tossed them if they made *any* mistake. Turning in the petition 2 days after the reopening without any contact was a big one.

  9. #9 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Hitler banned competing parties after he took power. Of course, our two parties aren’t that bad, so it’s ok. How dare I even mention it…

  10. #10 |  Mattocracy | 

    After reading the previous post about pack-a-stan, I wonder how you pronounce Louisiana correctly? Do we do it like the cajuns, or Bobby Jindal?

  11. #11 |  Zeb | 

    A two party system is really only one “bipartisan effort” away from a one party system.

  12. #12 |  Scott | 

    Ben –

    Great point about voting for Obama or McCain being a waste. The more I think about choosing between them, the more I hate it. Voting for Bob Barr is about as close to a vote of no confidence in the current system as you can get. Barr’s got my vote.


  13. #13 |  Bob Barr 2008 Blog » Blog Archive » Ballot access hypocrisy | 

    […] Balko points out the hypocrisy of ballot access laws: When the Supreme Court of Texas gave the two major parties a pass for missing the filing deadline […]

  14. #14 |  Matt | 

    I do agree with #8 that it does feel like Barr dropped the ball here. On the same token though, not allowing for some sort of lee way after a hurricane is ludicrous. I strongly suspect there is more to the story, especially considering the state that Baton Rouge and New Orleans were in with power and communication.

    So now that the Supreme Court has denied the appeal, is there any chance at all that us Louisianians will see Barr on the ballot? It’s funny that I’d finally sort of landed on a candidate that I felt I could vote for and now this.

  15. #15 |  Phelps | 

    FWIW, I’ve never seen a Mandamus denial get any sort of opinion attached. (The US Supreme Court doesn’t give any reasons when they deny cert, either.) I wouldn’t read too much into that. Concentrate on the other stuff (like equal protection and due process arguments.)

  16. #16 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #11 Zeb
    A two party system is really only one “bipartisan effort” away from a one party system.

    Short, to the point, and highly quotable.

  17. #17 |  Aaron | 

    Unfortunately, IRV starts breaking down due to strategic voting efforts precisely when a third party starts threatening the top two. Either Condorcet or Approval seem to work the best.

  18. #18 |  MikeL | 

    I’ve always thought the only way to waste a vote is to not use it at all. A 3rd party vote sends a message, even if the big boys deny it.

  19. #19 |  Bill | 

    It’s horsewhipping time. Get your horsewhips out and meet in the town center.

  20. #20 |  freedomfan | 

    MikeL, that’s exactly correct. It’s mathematically impossible for a voter to waste his vote by casting it. There is nothing wrong with casting a vote for a candidate who doesn’t win. Even if a third party candidate never takes the oath of office, the two big media parties will pay attention if he costs them enough votes. Third party votes serve at least two purposes: 1) They deprive the two parties of getting votes they haven’t earned (the stick) and 2) they tell the two parties what kind of government the people who cast those votes want (the carrot).

    Meanwhile, there is something wrong with knowingly casting a vote for a candidate whose programs will make the country worse. That’s worse than a vote for a third party candidate and worse even than an uncast vote. At least the uncast vote can’t be directly claimed as part of the “mandate” for a politician’s schemes.

  21. #21 |  SayUncle » Two party system | 

    […] notes that while exceptions are made for the two major parties, no such leniency exists for third parties. Even though hurricane sounds like a reasonable excuse for missing a […]

  22. #22 |  seeker6079 | 

    The deadline for candidates’ filings was [Tuesday] Sept. 2, but Hurricane Gustav closed state offices in Baton Rouge that week.

    Dardenne re-opened his office [Monday] Sept. 8 and declined to accept filings after 5 p.m.

    The Libertarians filed paperwork for presidential candidate Bob Barr and vice presidential candidate Wayne Root on [Wednesday] Sept. 10…

    The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans sided with Dardenne, concluding Libertarian officials should have made an effort to reach Dardenne’s office. A skeleton crew remained at the office the first week of September, according to court testimony.

    This is the part that baffles me. If a government office (or private concern) for that matter is closed then it’s closed. The fact that there are staff there, working or not, is irrelevant to whether or not the public is able to access the services there. I’m sure that everybody reading this post has had the experience of being at an office or store, seeing the staff, but not being served because it was out-of-hours.

    I wonder what the physical setup was. If, for example, the staff were in an office building, on, say, the third floor, and the doors to the building are locked, then how could any member of the public even know they were there?

    Further, if a member of the public hears “state offices will be closed because of the hurricane” then why on earth would they go and try?

    Those things said, Barr should have had his staff waiting on the doorstep at 0700 on the following Monday, ready to file. You can sing the man’s praises all you want, but I’ve got a genial contempt for a man who wants to be president who can’t even adapt to circumstances, especially when he was clockwork efficient about obsessing over another man’s fellatio.

    Note for the inevitable rebuttals: Put me in the rules-is-rules school, with no special favours for any party.

  23. #23 |  Rob Robertson | 

    If we were to have a vote on killing MikeL and divvying up his accumulated wealth, how would you vote, MikeL? Are you going to vote “live” or “die”? The correct answer is “I’m not going to vote at all because MY life is not amenable to YOUR vote”. Once you pull the lever you tacitly agree that the disposition of your life IS subject to the whims and passions of The People.

    That said, I will admit to having been a lifelong Libertarian voter, if only to “send a message” in a frantic attempt to slow down this runaway freight train. I’m thinking that tactic has been less than effective, so far.

    I’m still undecided between writing in Ron Paul, voting for Bob Barr, or showing up at the polling booth with a stack of handouts explaining that my decision to not vote is rooted not in apathy but in a positive action of withholding sanction for an inherently immoral system of plunder and degradation.

    Gosh, I hope it’s raining while I’m standing out there passing out
    those pamphlets. That’ll really send a message, eh?

  24. #24 |  Chris | 

    I am voting for Barr. This article has sealed it for me. The Dems and Repubs are nothing to me anymore.

  25. #25 |  Brief Essays With Pictures » Blog Archive » WV Judge Excludes Third Party From Debates | 

    […] best of friends. There are plenty of examples of this outrageous behavior; Radley Balko documented the Supreme Court’s refusal to allow Libertarians on the ballot in Louisiana. Here in West Virginia, we have the home-grown Mountain Party’s Jesse Johnson, who sued to be […]