Commentary: Jessica Szilagyi of Fox 5 on why we need ballot access reform

We do not delve into partisan politics at Macon Community News, but we do act as a forum for issues that come up. One that is close to the heart of the editorial staff is ballot access to third parties and independents. The attached “Like it or Not” video segment by Jessica Szilagyi of Fox 5 in Atlanta is a good primer on the issue.

Jessica Szilagyi - I know you're as shocked as I am
Jessica Szilagyi on ballot access reform for Fox5 in Atlanta. Photo courtesy Fox5.

Currently, the Republicans and Democrats dominate American government such that only a handful of independents and third party members serve in any form of government. If it were by the choice of the voters, that would be fine, but unfortunately those in power in nearly every jurisdiction in the country have gamed the rules to keep independents and third parties off the ballot.

Of all the states of the union, Georgia is dead last at 50th when it comes to ballot access, according to Szilagyi. To qualify to be on the ballot as an independent or third party candidate for a Congressional seat, a candidate would have to submit 22,000 signatures. Then, due to challenges, ticky-tacky laws about process and lawyers, that number really needs to be 50% more or close to 35,000. Just to show up on a ballot!

Any cursory glance of the election results in Georgia shows how few races are even competitive. The stringent tests prevent the two major parties from ever being held accountable because they Gerrymander their districts so that one party or another dominates. They would never run candidates against themselves and due to the unbalanced districts, they do not often run candidates against each other.

The only way that this will change is if citizens demand a choice and allow conservative independents to mount a challenge against Republicans in Republican districts and liberal independents to mount challenges in Democratic districts. As Americans, we used to proudly claim that we had freedom of choice, but now we seem to just take what we are given.

Please watch this short, funny and informative video from Ms. Szilagyi and learn something about the issue of ballot access.



Published by Doug Deal

Founder Doug Deal is a former chemical engineer from Georgia Tech who switched careers into software development at the turning of the millennium. He has lived in Macon for nearly 12 years and started Macon Community News in 2013 with his wife Lauren. His goal in starting the newspaper was to publicize positive news because he grew tired of so much negativity driving most local coverage. He has 2 children, Sam and Isobel.