July 3, 2007
I am pleased to report that long-time activist and candidate Leonard Schwartz has volunteered to serve as the LPM's Political Director. Leonard will devote his energies to candidate recruitment, training and support, including assisting in the preparation of candidate initial election and campaign finance filings. Please contact Leonard at email@example.com if he can assist you.
Elsewhere in this issue of LPOnline is a description of the upcoming Libertarian Party Region 3 Convention in Dayton, Ohio, on August 3-5. This is a great opportunity to educate yourself in the grass roots political skills you need to help your local affiliate succeed, and to network with other Libertarian Party activists from across the country. If you're unable to attend due to financial considerations, an LPM donor has offered to help out. We have two scholarships available to cover the $100 registration fee for the convention, and might also be able to provide a shared room for the two nights of the convention. Several activists are attending from Michigan, so rides may also be available. If interested, please contact Erin Stahl, Vice Chair and Affiliates liason, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[This is the text of a press release that has sparked radio interviews and print articles across the State.]
LANSING, MI – Five of Michigan's political parties have joined together to establish the Michigan Third Parties Coalition (MTPC). Saturday afternoon, representatives of the Green, US Taxpayers, Reform, Socialist, and Libertarian Parties met at Finley's American Grill, and united to challenge election laws that unfairly favor Democrats and Republicans. Spanning the political spectrum, the Michigan Third Parties Coalition formed to advocate equal rights, in Michigan elections, for all Political Parties. The MTPC contends that the present "two-party" system is not simply a product of voter's choices or ideals. Rather, members say, it is an institutional arrangement maintained by major parties and special interests to prevent competition. "Unless you are a Republican or a Democrat, Michigan's elections are neither free, nor fair. Michigan's other political parties hope to change that, by working together to make it easier for all Michigan voters to vote for the candidate they choose" said Libertarian Party of Michigan Chair Bill Hall.
Michigan third party candidates say they face a media blackout. "This lie of omission is perpetrated through circular logic: We're shut out of the debates, nominally because of low polling numbers, then shut out of the polls because we weren't in the debates, then shut out of the next debate because of low poll numbers . . . It's difficult enough for voters to make intelligent decisions when you hear from all sides, let alone only two. Michigan's citizens deserve better...'" said Douglas Campbell of the Green Party, who was arrested, beaten and jailed for attempting to participate in a candidates' debate. Socialist Party of Michigan Chair Matt Erard further argued that, "Living in a democratic society means that voters have a right to make informed decisions. Voters are robbed of that right when third parties are excluded from the coverage and opportunities necessary to equally present their views to the voting public."
Jon Ettinger of the Reform Party said, "Of all of the obstacles to third parties achieving fair and equal access in the Michigan electoral system the greatest are the present state election laws which prevent many third party candidates from getting the opportunity to participate in Michigan's electoral process, at all." Gerald Van Sickle of the US Taxpayers Party points out that, "Under the present Michigan election law, it is impossible for a new party to nominate any candidates for the ballot without spending tens of thousands of dollars on a statewide ballot access drive; an often impossible task without the corporate financial backing (which the two major parties receive as 'access contributions.')" In each election, third parties with ballot access, face the prospect of losing their ballot access. Furthermore, the present voting system, which depends on primaries, compels people to vote for one of the major party candidates rather than their first choice, or else "waste" their vote.
While the member parties have diverse, and divergent, political perspectives, they have agreed on these core objectives:
Amending Michigan's ballot access laws to give all state parties a chance to have their candidates listed on the ballot.
Allowing candidates affiliated with non-ballot qualified third parties to list a party label on the ballot once they' have qualified to appear on the ballot as independents. Michigan is among a minority of states that does not allow this.
Establishing Instant Run-Off Voting (IRV) in Michigan elections. IRV is a system that would allow voters to rank their preferences and drop the least popular candidates until one candidate has a majority. In addition to being a far more democratic system of voting than the "winner-take- all" system currently in place, IRV could replace primaries, and would eliminate the spoiler effect of voting for third party candidates.
Coverage of all candidates by the media. We jointly advocate the importance of including third party candidates in the media and raising the issue to the media and general public whenever third party candidates are systematically ignored in election coverage.
Fighting the exclusion of third party candidates from debates.
Furthermore, the MTPC developed a website and are organizing a series of events and campaigns.
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