Will There Be a Third Choice on the 2008 Ballot?

The short answer is “of course.”  The Green Party and Libertarian Party almost always get a candidate listed on the actual ballot.  Just ask Democratic activists about the 2000 Florida results, and be ready for an earful about Green Party candidate for president Ralph Nader costing Al Gore the election.

Learn more after the jump, and vote in our poll…But what about something like in 1992, when Ross Perot won 19% of the vote nationwide (23% in Colorado), and led in the polls before dropping out of the race, and then getting back in just before votes were cast?

Members of the MSM have not covered it much (especially not on the national level), but there is an organized effort to put a third option on the ballot in 2008.  It’s called Unity08 and it kicked-off in Denver last May.

Creating a national party is not for the faint of heart.  Ross Perot sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into creating the Reform Party from the top down, only to see it later taken over by Pat Buchanan and his anti-abortion followers.  Unity08 appears to coming at the effort from the opposite direction, bottom-up.  How? Via the Internet, of course.

The basic concept, according to www.Unity08.com, is that Americans frustrated with the current choice of candidates sign up as delegates on their website.  In 2008, those delegates will (in theory) choose a split ticket, with the candidate for President being of one party and the candidate for Vice President will be from the other party.  As the group notes on their website, though, the details of that process are still being worked out.

An even bigger question facing Unity08 is how the group will ensure its nominees are on the ballot in all 50 states.  On that question, the group’s website notes:

Unity08 is readying its ground troops to begin securing ballot access early in 2007. We will start with only a handful of states first, recruit staff and volunteers, provide guidance and assistance, and provide tools. We’ll learn from what we do well in those states, and learn from our mistakes. And we’ll learn from what our online supporters tells us. Then we’ll incorporate those learnings into our efforts in the next state.

This will be some of the most challenging work on which Unity08 embarks, and it will require the support, volunteerism and generosity of American voters everywhere.

If Unity08 is able to secure ballot access in all 50 states, it will clearly be a testament to the power of the Internet and its growing impact on politics.  Ross Perot struggled to gain battle access in 1992 and 1996 with an army of lawyers and seemingly unlimited personal financial resources behind his effort.

So far Unity08 has signed up over 40,000 delegates for its online convention.  While that number pales in comparison to the millions of Democrats and Republicans there are nationwide, it actually exceeds the number of delegates who will be on the floor of either convention.

A split ticket seems likely to have significant appeal in Colorado, where unaffiliated voters outnumber Democrats.  The question remains, though, if voters disgruntled with the current two party system will do more than complain.  If they open up their checkbooks and wallets, they may be able to secure the split ticket many have been clamoring for.

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Mark Mehringer

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