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Arkansas Green Party Receives Statewide Ballot Status

This story was written by Eric R. Evridge, Arkansas Traveler
The Green Party of Arkansas is now recognized as an organized political party in Arkansas, and residents will have the choice of identifying as Green when registering to vote, according to a press release from the Green Party of Arkansas.

"I think there's a crying need for a third party," said Rebekah Kennedy, public relations co-chair and 2008 Arkansas Senate candidate.

"The Green community, while not large, is tight-knit," said Thomas Rice, president of the Green Party on the University of Arkansas campus. Everyone we know was helping with ballot access, Rice said, and we think statewide ballot access will bring a lot of people out of the woodwork.

The Green Party had to overcome the obstacle of submitting 10,000 signatures in 60 days, rather than 24,000 in 150 days, according to the press release.

Signatures are not required for Democrats and Republicans because they've made laws that say you don't have to collect signatures if you received 3 percent of the presidential and gubernatorial vote, Kennedy said.

The signatures needed to get on the statewide ballot were gathered by a combination of paid and volunteer labor to make the best use of whatever type of support the Greens were most able to give, according to the press release.

The people we've elected aren't doing their jobs, Kennedy said. A healthy democracy requires more than one party, he said. "This will make Democrats and Republicans think and speak more carefully about their positions," Kennedy said.

It will reveal the weakness of politicians who are trying to have an issue both ways, she said.

"We're trying to put a stop to bi-partisanship," Kennedy said.

"Think of the resources and volunteer hours that went into this," said Mark Swaney, policy and positions co-chair of the Green Party of Arkansas. "Voters in this state are going to have another choice in November because of the work of our volunteers."

Grassroots democracy, social justice, equal opportunity, decentralization and sustainability were just a few of the 10 key values that make up the Green Party's philosophy, according to the Web site of the Green Party of Arkansas.

This isn't the first time the Green Party has been on the statewide ballot, Kennedy said. In 2006 the Green Party ran candidates for every position except lieutenant governor.

The idea that a third party takes away votes from one party and hands the election to another party, also known as the "spoiler effect," is a scare tactic that can easily be fixed, Kennedy said.

Implementing a rank choice voting system will allow voters to vote twice on one ballot, which saves money and time, Kennedy said.

"The problem with that is that you don't get parties on the ballot that have statewide support," Kennedy said.

You have to have a modicum of statewide support, but Democrats and Republicans get to define what a modicum of support is, Kennedy said. They've chosen the governor's race because they feel it will be the hardest to register statewide support, she said.

"But residents will now have the choice to vote Green in 2008," Kennedy said.

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© 2007 Arkansas Traveler via U-WIRE