Level Playing Field for All Candidates
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by David Hobbs

[This letter appeared in Florida Today on August 12, 1998]

In November, Florida voters will have a chance to correct the most discriminatory ballot access laws of any state in the country.

Here are some basic facts about the current election laws: In Florida, a political party is not considered a "major" party until it gets 5 percent of the registered voters.  At the time, only the Republicans and Democrats are considered major parties in Florida.

To get on the ballot for a political office, a major party candidate may either pay the filing fee or collect signatures from 3 percent of the registered voters in his party in the district in which he is running.

An independent or minor party candidate must first collect signatures from 3 percent of all registered voters in the district.  If he manages that, then he must pay a filing fee.  To run for a statewide office in 1998, a minor party candidate would have had to collect about 242,000 signatures just to get on the ballot!

Florida has never had an independent or minor party candidate on the ballot for statewide office since these laws were passed in 1931.  To top it off, major parties get a rebate of about 50 percent on candidate filing fees, while minor parties get none.

Revision 11 ensures that each candidate, regardless of political affiliation, will have to meet the same ballot access requirements.  As a Libertarian, and a Brevard County voter, I think it's critical we get behind Revision 11.  After seeing what the older parties have done over the past 30 years, it's obvious we need to level the playing field so candidates with truly new ideas can be placed on the ballot.


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