WASHINGTON, D.C. (3-7-16) — Green Party leaders said that 2016 is proving to be a watershed year in the public’s discontent with a two-party choice on Election Day and urged voters and legislators to support democratic reforms that enable elections in the U.S. to welcome and accommodate alternative-party and independent candidates.
Greens encouraged legislators to enact Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), also called Ranked-Choice Voting, in all at-large elections including presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial.
“It’s possible that 2016 will mark the end of two-party politics — or at least a huge crack in the perception that a field limited to two parties is acceptable. Those worried about the spoiler factor because of third-party participation in elections should join the demand for reforms like IRV,” said Michael Dennis, member of the steering committee of Young Greens.
IRV, which allows voters rank the candidates in order of preference instead of voting for a single candidate. is an effective system for electing a single winner when more than two candidates are on the ballot. It ensures that the winner will have majority support and eliminates the alleged danger of “spoiling.”
For more information about IRV and its benefits, see FairVote.org.
Greens have sharply criticized politicians and pundits who invoke the spoiler accusation against Green candidates without also urging IRV as a solution.
“Greens have been calling for reforms like IRV since the Green Party was founded. In the wake of the 2000 election, Green nominee Ralph Nader was widely blamed for spoiling and enabling George W. Bush to move into the White House. We’ve challenged those worried about spoiling to demand IRV. Democratic Party leaders have ignored us — which leads us to suspect that Dem politicians would rather lose to Republicans than tolerate multi-party competition,” said Sanda Everette, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.
Green Party members have called the allegation that Mr. Nader spoiled for Al Gore in 2000 a myth, noting numerous reasons for Mr. Gore’s defeat that had nothing to do with alternative-party competition and the fact that far more registered Democrats (13% in Florida) voted for George W. Bush than for Mr. Nader. Greens challenge the assumption that alternative-party candidates draw voters away from a single major party. (See http://disinfo.com/2010/11/debunked-the-myth-that-ralph-nader-cost-al-gore-the-2000-election and http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/10/08/how-often-do-third-party-candidates-actually-spoil-elections-not-very/ and http://prorev.com/green2000.htm ).
“The U.S. Constitution doesn’t enshrine two parties. We demand fair and open elections in a multi-party democracy. Americans deserve the right to vote for candidates who represent their interests and ideals, without being told that only two candidates or two parties are legitimate,” said Laura Wells, Green candidate for Governor of California in 2010 and member of the campaign team that won approval of IRV in Oakland, California.
Green Party leaders also dispute the claim that two-party elections are natural or inevitable.
“Restrictive ballot-access laws in many states are evidence that the two-party status quo has been designed and maintained by Democratic and Republican lawmakers to privilege their own candidates and hinder alternative-party and independent contenders. State Green Parties have joined and supported efforts to overturn such laws,” said Bahram Zandi, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.
Recent legal challenges in Illinois and Pennsylvania have been successful ( http://wuis.org/post/insurmountable-burden-law-third-parties-stricken-paving-way-libertarian-candidates#stream/0 and http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/off-mic/84577-court-pa-unfair-to-3rd-parties ).
“Millions of Americans who support Bernie Sanders are not happy that Hillary Clinton is increasingly likely to be the Democratic nominee. They’d like to vote for a true progressive in November, instead of the usual choice between two candidates of war and Wall Street. The Green Party will be on the ballot in November. We’re encouraging Sanders supporters to go Green if he’s defeated by the Clinton juggernaut and also inviting them to join us in demanding IRV and other reforms,” said Andrea Mérida, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.
Mr. Sanders, who has served in the U.S. House and Senate as an independent and identifies himself as a socialist, has criticized two-party domination of elections ( http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/dem-primaries/269967-sanders-two-party-system-holds-back-competition ).
IRV is already used in some municipal elections in the U.S. A state-wide initiate for IRV (Maine Ranked Choice Voting Initiative) will be on the ballot in Maine in the 2016 general election ( https://ballotpedia.org/Maine_Ranked_Choice_Voting_Initiative_%282016%29 ).
“With IRV elections, people of color will no longer feel trapped by the paltry choices offered by the duopoly, whose deficient track records in solving problems for our communities garner little. Here in Colorado, Greens have fought for IRV for municipal elections and helped lead the campaign in Fort Collins,” said Ms. Mérida.
Along with IRV and repeal of unfair ballot-access laws, the Green Party supports election reforms like Proportional Representation, same-day voting registration, full public financing of federal, state and local elections, free and equal time on the public airwaves for all ballot-qualified candidates and parties. For a full list of democratic reforms supported by the Green Party, see the Green platform ( http://www.gp.org/democracy#DemPoliticalReform ).
The Green Party also demands that Green presidential nominees be allowed to participate in post-nomination debates and is currently a plaintiff in two lawsuits against the Commission on Presidential Debates (see http://www.gp.org/newsroom/press-releases/details/4/797 and http://gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=819 ).
The Green nominee will be chosen at the party’s 2016 national convention in Houston, Texas, August 4-7. In the 2012 election, the Green Party had presidential ballot lines in 37 states including the District of Columbia, reaching 82% of voters. (More information: http://www.gp.org/the_green_party_recognizes_five_candidates_for_the_green_presidential_nomination )