The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.
Richard Stocking’s commentary about Arizona’s Green Party losing its recognition missed the target.
Increased primary election petition signature requirements enacted by Arizona’s state legislature in 2015 kept all Libertarian candidates for state and Congressional offices off Arizona’s general election ballots in 2016 and 2018, even though Libertarian voter registration qualified for minor party status.
Green candidates received record-high vote percentages in Arizona in 2016 and 2018, as the only alternative party with candidates (for offices other than president) on the ballot. In 2016, I received more votes as a Green candidate for Arizona’s U.S. Senate seat than any other Green candidate for the Senate has since 2010. Arizona Green Party nominee Mark Salazar received the most votes ever cast for any Green candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016.
Arizona’s Green Party is much too small to qualify as a recognized party through voter registration under current state law. If the Greens did qualify, both the Libertarians and Greens would have ballot status on paper without the ability to get candidates on the general election ballot.
The real test for Arizona Greens has been to gather at least 31,686 “valid” signatures on a party qualification petition by Nov. 28. This petition deadline is absurdly early. The previous February deadline (70 days later) was unsuccessfully challenged in court for being unreasonably early.
Alternative political parties should have reasonable ballot access, with vastly reduced requirements.
Arizona legislators maneuver to keep all alternative party candidates off the ballot.
Ballot access is the first — and smallest — obstacle to creating a representative election system in the United States. The primary obstacle to fair representation is the winner-take-all voting system.
Under winner-take-all voting systems like those used in the United States, political minorities are excluded from representation.
Only two parties are represented in the U.S. Congress. No candidate representing an alternative party has been elected to Congress since 1970. Out of 7,383 seats in state legislatures, none are held by candidates who were elected as members of the nation’s third or fourth-largest political parties.
The Senate violates the principles of fair representation. It should be abolished. Representation is for people, not for the “imaginary beings called states,” as James Wilson argued. California now has more than 68 times the population of Wyoming, but each state elects two senators. Nine states with a majority of the nation’s population elect just 18% of the Senate.
Ninety-four nations use proportional representation to secure fair, inclusive representation for politically diverse populations in their legislatures. Another 34 countries mix proportional representation with some winner- take-all elections. The European Parliament is elected proportionally as well.
Most nations with proportional representation use some form of party-list voting. Under these systems, voters support a list of candidates representing their favorite political party. Each political party is awarded seats in the legislature in proportion to its share of the vote. Five percent of the vote equals 5% of the seats.
Green Party candidates have been elected to at least 30 national parliaments under party-list systems of proportional representation.
Under a party-list system of proportional representation, the Green Party would have elected representatives in Congress and in state legislatures. Without such a system, the Green Party will be, at best, an ineffective protest vote in the U.S.
Nations that use party-list systems to elect their legislators generally have higher voter turnout, better representation of women and ethnic minorities in government, more political parties in government, higher standards of living, and stronger environmental protections than nations that use winner-take-all voting methods.