Qualifying Parties via Internet

Community Organizing Ideas and Issues National Politics Voting Rights

digital-signingNew Orleans In a piece about the feinting being done by billionaire NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Matt Bai in the New York Times correctly pointed out that not only money but “ballot access” was a huge impediment to alternative political parties and candidacies.  A throwaway comment though got me thinking when he mentioned that qualifying such efforts would be easier in the internet age because “…signature-gathering…is far easier to organize now, through online communities….”  Bai is simply talking theoretically about organizing efficiencies here, but what hit me like a brick was whether or not it was legal now – or would soon be legal – to actually qualify such petitions through direct internet signature gathering, which would be a revolutionary breakthrough.

I don’t fully know the answer about what might be possible now, though my friends at Google pretty quickly revved up their search engines and allowed me to piece together enough in a sideways fashion to determine that internet petition gathering is already legal in California in seems and at least Utah for a certainty.  I don’t normally associate Utah with progressive breakthroughs, so I would not be surprised to hear that other states (I would almost bet on Washington and Oregon for examples) have also joined the 21st century and allowed internet signature gathering to legally qualify candidates and parties.

I have sent a couple of emails out to colleagues who are mega-domes in this area since surely they would already know where this can be legally done, and when I hear, I will definitely share the news.  Whether just these two or another dozen, more interestingly it seems inevitable that within a couple of years or at most a decade, one could qualify alternative parties successfully on a state by state basis via the internet at a fraction off the cost thereby making alternative parties accessible in a way that has not been allowable since the 1890’s when the two-party stranglehold became embedded in law in one state legislature after another.

Visionary thinkers in political strategy and tactics, particularly among progressives, would do well to start tilling these vineyards.  This could be big and a total game changer!  This is a political forward pass in a landscape dominated by three yards, a cloud of dust, and a rock pile of money:  parties, programs, and candidates get ready to step up.