The Politics of Institutional Choice: Presidential Ballot Access for Third Parties in the United States
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 January 2009
During the nineteenth century, a presidential voter actually selected a party-prepared candidate list, casting it in full view of others. The ‘Australian’ ballot, adopted in nearly all states by 1900, took away party preparation of the ballot. State officials now prepared overall candidate lists from which the voter picked in secret. The introduction of the Australian ballot was heralded as a blow against political corruption and for ‘good government’. But practical questions arose. With the state itself responsible for the ballot, how should it decide which candidates to list? Some barriers to entry seemed necessary, otherwise the list would be unwieldy. Each of the states began to pass laws restricting ballot access, often aimed at third parties.
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4 Our data on state ballot requirements are reported in the New York Times, ‘Perot's Progress’, 26 06 1992.Google Scholar
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19 The Sullivan Index is calculated using the proportions of foreign born, Catholics and Jews, education, housing and income levels, and occupation distribution in each state. We use the version of the measure updated using 1980 census data in Morgan, D. and Wilson, L., ‘Diversity in the American States: Updating the Sullivan Index’, Publius, 20 (1990), 71–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar State population demographics (population over 65 years of age, the number of farms) were taken from Statistical Abstract of the United States 1992.
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21 The party competition measure was taken from Stanley, H. and Niemi, R., Vital Statistics on American Politics, 3rd edn (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 1992), p. 138.Google Scholar We used the traditional party organization measure developed in Mayhew, D., Placing Parties in American Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
22 State populstion manages to account for less than half of the variance in signatures required (adjusted R 2 = 0.46). Further, when state population is added as a fourth independent variable in the Strategic Parties model (Table 1), the electoral vote coefficient is still highly significant (t = 3.611). Clearly, population by itself offers a poor explanation of requirements for access to the ballot.
24 The last state was Arizona. See Hevesi, Dennis, ‘Perot drive files petitions for ballot in New York’, New York Times, 28 08 1992Google Scholar; Broder, David S. and Dionne, E. J. Jr, ‘Perot vows to pressure candidates on economy; Texan may re-enter race to get TV time’, Washington Post, 19 09 1992.Google Scholar