Minor political parties fighting to get on the ballot in Tennessee were given a chance to air their views Monday, but they left the Capitol disappointed. In a meeting held on the eve of the start of the 2014 legislative session, representatives for the Libertarian, Constitution and Green parties presented plans that would have slashed the number of signatures needed for minor parties to be recognized by state election officials. But state lawmakers would agree only to a nonbinding recommendation to lower the requirement for local and statehouse races. The decision frustrated representatives for third parties, which have sued state officials over rules that they say have been designed to thwart them.
“In my opinion, this was one step off a dog and pony show,” said Jim Tomasik, a Libertarian Party activist from Memphis. “This is just a delay to get it pushed past another election.”
Tomasik won a court order last fall to be recognized as his party’s nominee in a special election to the state House of Representatives.
Tennessee law requires candidates to gather only 25 signatures to run for office as independents, but minor parties must get far more if they want their designation to appear next to candidates’ names on the ballot. The exact number varies from election to election, but it equals 2.5 percent of the number of votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election, about 40,000 names based on turnout in 2010.