The Impotent American Voterrnby Richard WingerrnOur great-great-grandfathers, if they were American voters,rnenjoyed greater opportunity to change policy with theirrnvotes than we do today. It is a paradox that as the number ofrnAmericans permitted to vote has increased over the past century,rnthe power of those votes has diminished. Many legislatorsrnand judges, in their hearts, do not really believe that the votersrnknow best, and they have curtailed certain kinds of votingrnrights that Americans formerly exercised. The rights of Americanrnvoters to organize new political parties, and to vote for candidatesrnof their choice, are weaker today than they were 70 yearsrnago.rnRecently, voters in Canada, Russia, Japan, and Western andrnCentral Europe created new political parties and either votedrnthem into power or gave them the status of dominant oppositionrnparties. What would happen if the voters of the UnitedrnStates created a new political party and tried to vote it into power?rnIf the new political party were created during an evennumberedrnyear, voters would learn that, in many states, itrncould not even get on the ballot, no matter how much popularrnsupport it had.rnThe Republican Party was founded on July 6, 1854. Duringrnthe autumn 1854 elections, the Republican Party elected morernmembers to the U.S. House, and more state governors, thanrnRichard Winger is editor o/^Ballot Access News (Box 470296,rnSan Francisco, CA 94147, 415-922-9779).rnany other party. That was how American voters of the 19thrncentury told the government to change direction. The same isrntrue today in most other nations, where the deadline for a newrnpolitical party, or any political party, to qualify for the ballot isrnoften only a month before the election. In South Africanrnelections this year. Chief Buthelezi’s Inkatha Freedom Partyrnqualified for the ballot less than a week before the election.rnBut in the United States, incredibly, some states require arnnew party to qualify for the ballot more than a year before anrnelection. A new party that wishes to qualify for the Novemberrn1996 ballot in California and Ohio will be required to do so nornlater than mid-October 1995. If a new party had been organizedrnon July 6 of this year, it would not have been able to getrnon the November 1994 ballot in Arizona, Arkansas, California,rnGeorgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts,rnMississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire,rnNew Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma,rnRhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee,rnTexas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin,rnor Wyoming, even if it had the ability to find candidates andrnorganize petition drives in a single week. That is because thernlegal deadline for qualifying for the ballot in those states precedesrnmid-July of an election year. So much for any group ofrnvoters who might have wanted to duplicate the successfulrnfounding of the Republican Party!rnEarly qualifying deadlines for new parties are fairly recent de-rn26/CHRONICLESrnrnrn