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Ballot Regulations and Multiparty Politics in the States

  • Barry C. Burden (a1)

American politics is dominated by two major parties and has been for a century. The duopoly enjoyed by the Democrats and Republicans is largely the result of Duverger's Law: the tendency of a single-member district system to produce two-party competition (Duverger 1963). Minor parties ultimately fail in a single-member district system because (1) the winner-take-all approach does not reward candidates who finish third and (2) citizens vote strategically to avoid “wasting” their votes on hopeless candidates and spoiling the election (Cox 1997; Riker 1982). Because the U.S. two-party system is so dependent on its majoritarian electoral rules, one might suspect that other election regulations would have little effect on the number of parties.A longer version of this paper was presented at the conference, “2008 and Beyond: The Future of Election and Ethics Reform in the States,” Columbus, OH, January 16–17, 2007. I thank Richard Winger of Ballot Access News for comments and information.

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Argersinger, Peter H. 1980. “‘A Place on the Ballot’: Fusion Politics and Antifusion Laws.” American Historical Review 85: 287306.

Burden, Barry C. 2005. “Minor Parties and Strategic Voting in Recent U.S. Presidential Elections.” Electoral Studies 24: 60318.

Hirano, Shigeo, and James M. Snyder Jr. 2007. “The Decline of Third Party Voting in the United States.” Journal of Politics 69 (1): 116.

Lewis-Beck, Michael S., and Peverill Squire. 1995. “The Politics of Institutional Choice: Presidential Ballot Access for Third Parties in the United States.” British Journal of Political Science 25: 41927.

Reed, Steven R. 1990. “Structure and Behavior: Extending Duverger's Law to the Japanese Case.” British Journal of Political Science 20: 33556.

Riker, William H. 1982. “The Two-Party System and Duverger's Law: An Essay on the History of Political Science.” American Political Science Review 76: 75366.

Scarrow, Howard A. 1986. “Duverger's Law, Fusion, and the Decline of American ‘Third’ Parties.” Western Political Quarterly 39: 63447.

Strattman, Thomas. 2005. “Ballot Access Restrictions and Candidate Entry in Elections.” European Journal of Political Economy 21: 5971.

Winger, Richard. 2006. “How Many Parties Ought to be on the Ballot? An Analysis of Nader v. Keith.” Election Law Journal 5: 170200.

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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