A majority of Americans want more election choices.
In a September 2020 Hill-HarrisX poll, 60 percent of Americans stated a need for a meaningful third party outside of the existing two-party system. Of the 3,758 registered voters, 61 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of Independents, and 51 percent of Republicans shared a belief that America needs a viable third party.
When the participants were broken down by gender, race, income, education, and age, the results held true, with a majority in each case supporting the idea of a third party.
The problem, of course, is that the two-party system has set an impossibly high barrier for entry for third parties. While the two major parties are automatically included on each ballot, other parties must gather hundreds of thousands of signatures in order to be included.
The Commission on Presidential Debates, which is run by members of the two major parties, has established seemingly reasonable rules for third-party candidates who want to participate in the debates, but the requirements are stacked against them.
Consider this: in order for a third-party candidate to appear on the presidential debate state, the candidate must register at least 15 percent support across a total of five national polls. What they fail to mention is that those national polls might not actually mention the third-party candidate in their polling efforts.
If, for example, the polling representative only mentions the names of the two major candidates in her question, how will a third-party candidate legitimately muster 15 percent support?
The last time a third-party candidate was allowed to participate in the presidential debate, it was 1992, and Ross Perot was only allowed to appear because the other two candidates insisted on it. (Each was assuming that Perot’s participation would hurt the other.)
More than 160 million people voted in 2020, the highest voter participation ever recorded in an American presidential election. The American people engaged in the political process in record numbers, with a voter turnout of about 67 percent.
This year’s ground swell of participation has the potential to change the election conversation in America if we refuse to let up. People are paying attention, and we’ve just wrapped up a vicious election cycle that arguably didn’t include the best candidates that our nation has to offer.
There are a number of ways for voters to engage in this conversation, and the best first step is to read the information for yourself.
If the American people want more options, they should have them. Our government runs according to the consent of the governed, and politicians who choose to ignore our wishes should be held accountable. It’s up to us to do it.