Indiana Green Party Testimony opposing 2021 House Bill 1134 as Amended

Indiana House Bill 1134

Synopsis: "Nomination of candidates. Provides that a candidate for United States Senator, governor, presidential elector, or alternate presidential elector nominated by a convention or by a petition of nomination must have a petition signed by at least 4,500 voters of Indiana, including at least 500 voters from each congressional district requesting the candidate be nominated."

Our Opinion: Indiana Law currently requires 3rd parties and independents petition for upward of 46,000 hand-written signatures of registered Indiana voters to be on the ballot for a statewide position (electronic signatures not allowed). We were in support the original version of this bill as it would level the playing field for any and all potential candidates to appear on the ballot. HOWEVER, this bill was amended just before leaving the House Committee on Elections and Apportionment to specifically EXCLUDE 3rd parties and independents, meaning the INGP would still have to petition for nearly 10 times the amount of signatures required by other parties just to be on the ballot. With this amendment in place, it's clear the main point of this bill was not to level the playing field for potential candidates to appear on ballots, but rather to further restrict minor parties (i.e. Libertarians, and likely Greens in years to come) who previously qualified for ballot access and were able to nominate their statewide candidates at their conventions. We see this as yet another example of blatant election injustice in which lawmakers continue to write election laws in their own favor. Indiana Green Party member, Dr. George Wolfe, testified on behalf of the Indiana Green Party to the House Committee before their vote. You can read Dr. Wolfe's testimony below, or watch him on the website here by selecting "Monday, Jan. 25 - 3:30pm" from the "Meetings" drop down, then navigating to 15:30 in the video.

UPDATE: February 1- Due to public demand and strong pressure from 3rd parties, HB 1134 was pulled from the calendar and appears dead. However, we must remain vigilant. We will continue to monitor the legislature to make sure this bill doesn’t get revived or added to another elections bill.

Dr. George Wolfe's Testimony on behalf of the Indiana Green Party

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to speak to the committee today.

My name is George Wolfe, from Muncie, Indiana. I’m here representing the Indiana Green Party. I originally was planning to speak in support of House Bill 1134 as it was proposed in its original form, provided the elected offices of Secretary of State and President of the United states were included in this bill. However, since the committee have just passed an amendment eliminating the bill’s application to third party and independent candidates, I must now speak against the bill.

In 2018 I was the Green Party candidate for Secretary of State. At that time, based on the 2% formula referred to in Representative Manning’s bill, I needed 26,699 petition signatures to obtain ballot access. If I were to run in 2022, given the number of Hoosiers who voted in 2018, I would need roughly 46,000 petition signatures. This number far exceeds what other states in the U.S. require and creates an undue burden on Independent and third party candidates. House Bill 1134, in its original form, and if amended to include Secretary of State and President of the United States, corrects for this and provides for equal and unbiased ballot access for all candidates. The bill would have then been comparable to Senator Greg Walker’s ballot access bill that I testified in support of during a senate elections committee hearing in 2019.

I realize there is concern that the possibility of more candidates gaining ballot access risks creating a “spoiler effect” in election races. The potential for this became apparent in this past November’s race for Governor where the Libertarian candidate received over 230,000 votes, many of which were votes that otherwise would have been cast for the republican candidate. In a future, highly competitive race, 230,000 votes would likely be enough to spoil the election for one of the major party candidates.

The answer to this concern, however, is not to further restrict ballot access, but to rather institute Ranked Choice Voting. Ranked Choice voting eliminates the spoiler effect and also insures that there will always be a majority winner when a race for an elected office involves more than two candidates.

Representative Sue Errington, who serves on this committee, has submitted a Ranked Choice Voting bill, HB 1216. I encourage you to schedule a hearing for her bill.

In conclusion, we need more voices, not fewer voices, contributing to the political conversation. The Indiana Green Party opposes HB 1134 in its amended form because it is a missed opportunity to correct for the unfair petition signature requirement that places an unjust and undue burden on third party and independent candidates who desire to run for a statewide office.

Thank you for your attention.