Third parties shake off ‘spoiler’ image
State may be ripe this fall for for third-party candidates
March 16, 2006 3:45 PM
Candidate lists for the upcoming California governor’s race offer ample options for student voters who are disenchanted with both the Republican and Democratic parties.
Out of 20 candidates, five are from third parties. While the presence of third-party candidates may seem like evidence that diverse voices are being represented and the electoral system is open to all, those candidates face monumental uphill battles.
Third-party candidates face issues of access, exposure and the “spoiler” image.
While the percentage of registered Democrats and Republicans continues to drop, the ‘decline to state’ percentage has risen to 18.2 percent statewide, up from 8.9 percent in 1990. In San Francisco, the percentage is up to 28.5 percent.
“We view this as a good thing. It is definitely better for us than having them registered Democrat or Republican,” said McDonald from the Green Party. “But we need to do more to reach out to them.”
“Everything is either Democrat or Republican,” said Robison, a 33-year-old majoring in math. “If the public were exposed to other ideas, maybe they would realize that there are other things out there.”
“The way we hold people accountable is by being able to vote them out of office,” said McDonald.
A problem arises when there are only two parties vying for every seat, according to McDonald. If most of the voters in an area are liberal or conservative, the voters are left with only one choice and that party becomes entrenched.
Ryan Vance, a 21-year-old broadcast major, addresses the acountability issue by registering independent.
“We’re not buying into Democratic or Republican ideas,” said Vance. He added that he is generally displeased with how both major parties choose to operate.
Ernesto Lira has taken a different approach.
Disgusted by the 2000 presidential election Lira, a 65-year-old criminal justice major, decided to take a break form voting.
“They all sing the same tune,” said Lira, who wants more third-party and female candidates elected. “Get somebody up there with some common sense.”
Electoral system reform is one way to address these problems of accountability and disenfranchisement.
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