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Monday, October 15, 2012

In Defense of Ballot Challenges Against Gary Johnson

The New York Times is out today with an opinion piece, presented as news, criticizing the Republican Party's efforts to knock Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson off the ballot in several states. These efforts should be praised.

This is how politics is played. At least these ballot challenges are efforts to enforce the rules. (Heaven forbid!) Play by the rules, play hard. And in states like Michigan, at least the state Republican Party is trying to win! Those Republican state organizations are willing to put third party candidates to the test to see if they did in fact follow the rules; if they did, then they get on the ballot, see you in November, but if not, it's sayonara! And that's how it should be.

(Full disclosure: I am an election lawyer and help candidates with election law compliance and challenges to their petitions. Ballot challenges help my business. Candidates who want to break the rules do not help my business.)

In other states, the Republican Party gave a pass, not just to Gary Johnson, but to every third party candidate. In New Jersey, home of the purported conservative rock star Chris Christie, there are eight third party candidates on the presidential ballot. None were challenged by a Republican Party organization whose head, Governor Christie, was the Republican National Convention keynote speaker. In fact, the third row on the ballot in New Jersey will be occupied by a reputed white supremacist group. (Perhaps the state GOP thinks this group will take votes from Obama!)

Petition challenges are part of our political system. Far from being unfair, they are crucial to maintaining the integrity of the process and a level playing field for all aspiring candidates.  

Eric Dixon is a corporate and investigative lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Mr. Dixon regularly handles political matters including campaign finance and election law issues.

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