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Is your Horse in the Race?

Comments Off on Is your Horse in the Race?

Freedom of Expression and Speech are fundamental rights along with others put forth and protected by the founding documents of our great country. The first Congress met in 1791 and ratified The Constitution along with the Bill of Rights including the 1st amendment addressing Freedom of Speech. 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Freedom of Speech often times freely interchanged with Freedom of Expression is broad and interpreted by the Supreme Court to encompass all forms of expression therein that do not pose an imminent danger or harm to others. This right should include the ballot choices presented for casting a vote in an election.

I cannot think of a more meaningful way to express and voice opinion in the running of our government. When a vote is cast for one’s choice of candidate/s it is an illustration and exercise in the basic right to be heard.   What happens if state laws are written and put in place by incumbent parties to control and limit those choices?  Laws designed to prevent smaller party candidates from being officially recognized and included on the State ballots. Is that not a form of interference and censorship restricting the voter’s voice?  Is it not limiting choice? What a great advantage for the duopoly to have when they can pick the horses in the race. The horse not allowed to run never wins.

A recent article in the Yale Law & Policy Review by Armand Derfner and J. Gerald Hebert states:
“It seems like an obvious proposition that a citizen registering to vote or casting a ballot is engaging in free speech, a fundamental right entitled to full protection under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This simple proposition is especially fitting in light of the broad First Amendment protection extended to the dollars spent in political campaigns to influence votes. But the current Supreme Court rarely scrutinizes voting regulations as it does other speech regulations. The Court treats spending to influence voters in elections by candidates, political parties, individuals, corporations, labor unions, and others, including anonymous contributors who might well be international terrorists as free speech entitled to robust First Amendment protection against state and federal limitation. Any limitations on such speech are subjected to strict scrutiny. Registering and voting, on the other hand, are given short shrift by the Court. Burdens on voter registration and voting are not analyzed under strict First Amendment standards, and therefore the Court has allowed states excessive latitude to restrict voters’ access to the ballot box. The Court should change course, fully acknowledge the expressive nature of voting, and grant voting the same First Amendment protections as the money spent to influence it.”

We’ve all heard that old saying “ignorance is bliss”. Most Citizens follow the crowds to the polls with little to no understanding of the existence of ballot restrictions and the insurmountable cost faced by minor parties to achieve ballot access. These factors controlled by incumbent parties limit citizen choices on election day.  There are many qualified candidates who truly desire to represent the interest of the people that will never make it to the starting gate due to a rigged system.

 “Although ballot access laws receive relatively little scrutiny, modern ballot access laws are probably the most obviously anti-competitive feature of the American electoral system. Ballot access restrictions are a violation of the people’s rights and an individual’s right to participate in his government and must be either drastically reduced or abolished altogether for the restoration of free and equal elections . Oliver Hall- Founder & Executive Director of the Center for Competitive Democracy.

How long will we allow our speech to be stifled by an out of control electoral system that seeks to restrict candidate choice and silence the voice of the people? I urge you to contact your state law makers and demand ballot access reform.  
Let’s get our horse in the race!

Tony Grant
Treasurer
The Constitution Party of Texas

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