State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: political primaries

Kansas Democrats Shift from Caucus to Primary

By: Alexander Reinert

 

As the nation prepares to vote in the upcoming 2020 presidential primaries, Kansas Democrats made news this past summer as they joined a growing list of states shifting away from caucuses to determine the allocation of their state delegates to the national convention. Citing efficiency purposes, state Democratic Party Chairwoman Vicki Hiatt said that she believes a primary will attract more participants than a caucus. Indeed, about 39,000 people participated in Kansas Democrats’ presidential caucuses in 2016—an unusually high turnout largely due to the enthusiasm of Bernie Sanders’ supporters. Democrats stuck to a traditional caucus format in 2016, whereby participants gathered in groups by the candidates they preferred after listening to speeches by candidate representatives. As a result, some meetings took several hours, which discouraged participation, especially in rural areas of the state where participants faced long drives to get to caucus sites. “People did not want to do that again,” Hiatt said. “It just ended up being a little chaotic.”

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Small Parties Put Up Big Fight for Ballot Access in North Carolina

By: Collin Crookenden

Though the history of minor-party candidates dates back to long before the advent of political primaries, the solidification of the two major political parties has prohibited third-party candidates from being true challengers in presidential races. In fact, since George Wallace’s semi-successful campaign in 1968, no third-party representative has won a single electoral college vote. Instead of vying for the presidency, like Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 or Wallace in 1968, recent minor-party candidates are running to “make a statement against the two-party system.” However, the 2016 presidential election cycle highlighted the lack of faith in the two major political parties and the strengthening desire from many for strong third party or independent presidential candidates. Both major-party candidates had unfavorable ratings higher than 50% through Election Day, which activated a large push for third-party candidates on all state ballots and questioned state laws on ballot access.

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