Third party candidates in Georgia score win with Appeals Court

Third party candidates didn’t score a win during the presidential election in 2016, but the 11th US. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday upheld a landmark decision in favor of those who oppose a two-party system.

In 2016, a U.S. District Judge in Atlanta ruled that the signatures required to get on the ballot as a presidential candidate in Georgia were unconstitutional. Judge Richard Story lowered the number of signatures needed for the petition to a mere 7,500 – a small feat compared to the more than 50,000 signatures needed in 2012.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican protected under the current system, swiftly appealed the decision.

But Wednesday’s ruling by a three-judge panel unanimously upheld Judge Story’s previous ruling, calling it a “well-reasoned opinion.” Even more, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted the “exceptionally quick turnaround” on the ruling after judges announced their decision less than a week after hearing arguments by parties.

Kemp has long opposed third party ballot access and led the charge to appeal the decision by federal judge Richard Story late last year. His office told the AJC that they are considering whether or not to again appeal the Appeals Court decision which would warrant a ruling from all 11 members of the 11th Circuit court.

The office maintains that parties “should have to show a modicum of support” and says too many options will result in “voter confusion and a crowded ballot.”

The most recent ruling affects Georgia, Alabama and Florida. In the original decision, Judge Story recommended that the legislature set new signature requirements.

Georgia ranks 50th in the nation when it comes to ballot access laws. State representative John Pezold, a Republican from Columbus, proposed revisions to ballot access laws in 2015 and 2016, however, the bill did not receive a committee hearing.

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