Contending one and maybe two congressional races were stolen from them, Republican legislators have approved a measure to finesse election laws to keep out the Libertarians who they say are taking votes from their candidates. The change, tucked into a much larger set of revisions to election laws, would sharply increase the number of signatures that Libertarian and Green Party candidates need just to get on the ballot for their own legislative and congressional primaries. Barry Hess, the Libertarian Party’s former candidate for governor, said in most cases the number of signatures required is far more than the number of people actually registered in most districts.
He said unless these minor parties could find independents willing to help them get on the ballot, it would create an “insurmountable obstacle” to any minor party candidate getting nominated, much less being on the general election ballot. But Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, admitted publicly that’s precisely the purpose of the change. And the real goal is creating an easier path for GOP candidates to win.
Mesnard, in a late-night bid on the House floor last week on to corral necessary votes for the change, argued that people try to “manipulate the outcome of elections by putting third-party candidates on the ballot.”
“All they have to do right now is get a dozen or 15 signatures and on the ballot they go,” Mesnard said, saying he was aiming his comments at the Republicans who control the Legislature. And he claimed that at least one congressional race and maybe two did not go “in the direction I would have liked to have seen them go” — and would have gone, Mesnard contends, had this law been in place last year.