Texas Ballot Access Laws Restrict Voter Choice- Study Ranks Texas Among Nation's Worst

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Texans for Voter Choice Coalition calls for deregulation to remove barriers, and switch to secure online petitioning process.

Texans for Voter Choice released a new study of Texas’ ballot access laws that shows the Lone Star state ranks among the worst in the nation with respect to protecting voter choice.

The study, OUTDATED, OVER-REGULATED AND JUST PLAIN COMPLICATED: How Ballot Access Laws Deny Texas Voters A Free Choice At The Polls, shows how the Texas Election Code limits voter choice by imposing a range of barriers to the ballot for non-major party candidates. Read the Report: http://texasvoterchoice.org

Texans for Voter Choice State Director Carly Rose Jackson said: “Texas is among the worst when it comes to ballot access laws. While Texans are usually proud to stand out, our general petitioning burdens and outrageous barriers for independent presidential candidates and new parties are nothing to be proud of.”

Texans for Voter Choice analyzed ballot access laws across the country based on two basic criteria:
1. The extent to which they protect the state’s legitimate regulatory interests in ensuring fair and honest elections and;
1. Maximize voter choice by ensuring that all candidates have an equal and fair opportunity to participate in the electoral process.

"Texas loves its mavericks, its wildcatters, and its competitive free-market business environment," said Mark Miller, Vice-chair of the Libertarian Party of Texas. "It's time for our great state to allow those same energies to be expressed at the ballot box ... and Texas voters the political diversity they clearly crave.”

The results of the study reveal a cumbersome process, making it difficult for qualified candidates to complete the necessary steps to appear on the ballot. Texas voters ultimately bear the consequences of the state’s burdensome ballot access scheme, because it often denies them a meaningful choice of candidates at the polls. In 2016, for example 44 percent of the races for Texas State Senate and 54 percent of the races for State House had only one candidate running unopposed, according the Texas Secretary of State.

Electronic Frontier Foundation-Austin Political Director Josh Cohn suggested a partial solution to the Texas ballot access barrier crisis. “Texas has the opportunity to show how government can use technology to offer smart solutions to difficult issues. A secure online petitioning process, maintained by the Secretary of State, could remove ballot access barriers for voters across the state."

Texans for Voter Choice is supporting HB 3068, the Texas Voter Choice Act which offers a solution to these problems. The legislation establishes reasonable requirements for all non-major party candidates, while eliminating outdated regulations that impose unnecessary barriers to the ballot. One key provision authorizes minor party and independent candidates to collect and submit nomination petition signatures online, through a secure portal maintained by the Secretary of State, thus eliminating the waste, inefficiency and expense of submitting paper nomination petitions.

“A majority of people want new political movements, but Texas laws won't allow any of us to become viable," katija gruene, Secretary of the Green Party of Texas and coalition member stated. "We spend so much time & money just trying to exist in this system, there is little left for campaigns and community building."

Enacting the Texas Voter Choice Act, HB 3068, would place Texas among the best states for protecting voter choice, by modernizing the process and setting the standard for best practices in ballot access regulation.

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Todd Main

Carly Jackson
@TXvoterschoice
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