Ballot Access Inclusion in Minnesota

Charlie Gers


High statewide vote thresholds aren’t just unconstitutional and archaic, they are also the exact representation of the fear that the Founding Fathers emphasized during our nation’s first years. Out of all 50 states, only two states have direct petitioning requirement as challenging or more challenging than Minnesota to become a ballot- qualified party: Maine (5%) and California (10%). It is ludicrous that this state, home to more than 5 and a half million people, facilitates a platform for two parties to control the entire political system. The Ballot Access Inclusion Bill, which has been authored and sponsored in the Senate and in the House, deserves to be heard in a committee hearing to ensure that the voice of all Minnesotans is equally heard in the voting polls, not just those who fit the binary options.

In his historic 1796 Farwell Address, President George Washington said, 

“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.” Washington, alongside the rest of the Founding Fathers, vowed to establish a government that would shape and protect the inalienable rights of every individual to combat mob rule or other tyrannical systems of government. Fast forward to 200 years and we have set a platform where the voices of millions of Americans have been deprived from the electoral system due to arbitrary laws and policies that define what a “major political party” is.

The Ballot Access Inclusiveness Bill isn’t a bill that advocates for the advantage of a specific political party or candidate; it’s a bill that advocates to level the playing field for all. The synopsis on the proposed bill states, “This is a comprehensive set of proposals to modernize Minnesota’s statutory definitions of Major and Minor political parties, which encompass a revision of arbitrary petitioning requirements, percentages, and timelines that as currently written, sustain exclusivity to ballot access.” With the support in the Senate by Sen. Jensen (R-47) and in the House by Rep. Elkins (D-49B), the bill has amassed the support of representatives from all across the political aisle. 

Minnesota is undeniably the outlier compared to its neighboring states. For example, South Dakota and Wisconsin require a 1% threshold for major party status while Iowa requires a 2% threshold. In addition, the bill petitions to increase the absurd petitioning period from two weeks to twelve weeks. The treatment of the state of Minnesota towards parties that aren’t part of the duopoly is nothing less than discriminatory. If we want to modernize our system to adapt to the states across the nation, it is fundamental that we each call our State Senator and State Representative to highlight the importance of this bill. This isn’t about Libertarians, Greens, or Independents; it’s about ensuring every Minnesotan has an equal chance of being represented in public office.