By Tom Squiteri, Talk Media News
WASHINGTON — Courts in states with three critical political battles have ruled Green Party candidates off the November ballot, possibly providing help for Democrats seeking victory in those tight contests.
The court decisions in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Montana are the only states where Greens have lost battles to stay on the ballot. Yet their absence could help Joe Biden to score critical wins in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock edge out a win in his Senate race against GOP incumbent Steve Daines.
During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump carried Pennsylvania by 44,000 votes, as Green Party candidate Jill Stein won 50,000 votes in the state. Trump won by 23,000 votes in Wisconsin, a state where Stein collected 31,000 votes.
There is no straight correlation between Green Party —or any third party voting — and those votes lost by the two major parties. Historically, the first 2 to 3 percent of votes garnered by third parties are from voters who rarely if ever vote for a major party candidate.
However, in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the presence of 2020 Green Parry presidential nominee Howie Hawkins could capture some votes that could flow to Biden, some analysts project.
“Democrats have tried to get independent and minor party presidential candidates off the ballot in the elections of 1936, 1940, 1948, 1952, 1980, 2004, and now 2020,” Richard Winger, author of Ballot Access News, said. “I think Democrats are blind to the effect on popular opinion when they try to get their opponents off the ballot. Well, some people who are sensitive to voting rights for minor party and independent voters do notice, and it makes them upset with Democrats.”
Hawkins is on the ballot in 29 states, plus the District of Columbia. He is on the Guam advisory ballot.
Winger noted that Democrats got more popular votes for president than Republicans in five of the last six presidential elections — only garnering fewer popular votes than Republicans for president in 2004.
“And, guess what, 2004 is the only instance in the last six elections in which Democrats challenged the ballot access of their minor party and independent opponents,” Winger said. “And I think that got publicity and it alienated a certain type of independent-minded voter to vote against (Democratic nominee Sen. John) Kerry.”
Court battles over third party ballot access are not uncommon in Montana. In 2012, supporters of Democrat Jon Tester — who was seeking a Senate seat — spent $500,000 supporting the Libertarian Party candidate in hopes he would shift votes from the Republican. Tester won by 18,000 votes, while the Libertarian candidate received 31,000.