Indiana Senate Bill 571
2019 Indiana Senate Bill 571 addresses ballot access and laws for political parties in Indiana. Former Indiana Green Party candidate, Dr. George Wolfe, testified to the Indiana Senate Elections Committee regarding these matters.
- Feb 14, 2019 - SB 571 was defeated in the state Senate by a vote of 16-31.
- Feb 11, 2019 - SB 571 had a second reading in the Senate. The vote was ordered engrossed and will be voted on by the full state Senate.
- Feb 4, 2019 - SB 571 has passed the Indiana Senate Elections Committee and will move to a vote on the Senate floor.
Jan 28, 2019 - Indianapolis - Former Indiana Green Party candidate, Dr. George Wolfe, testified to the Indiana Senate Committee on Elections at 11:45am in favor of Senate Bill 571. This bill, if passed, would reduce the threshold of signatures required for candidates to attain ballot access, and it would reduce the number of votes required for a political party to be recognized as an official party in the state of Indiana. The thresholds would be reduced from 2% to 0.5% of the total vote cast for secretary of state in the most recent election. The bill would also redefine "major" and "minor" political parties beneath a single "standard political party" umbrella so campaign and election rules would be the same for all parties who qualify.
Dr. Wolfe started his testimony by articulating the Green Party's commitment to grassroots democracy. He described his 2018 Secretary of State campaign and explained the struggle for 3rd parties to achieve ballot access in the state of Indiana. The current 2% threshold required 3rd parties to obtain nearly 27,000 valid signatures for ballot access in 2018. And for the upcoming 2020 elections, this threshold would be nearly 45,000 signatures. Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans only need 4500 signatures. George also explained how the current laws make Indiana one of the most difficult states for 3rd party candidates to participate. He mentioned that in the early 1980s, the threshold in Indiana was, in fact, 0.5%. Since it's been raised, no political party in Indiana has achieved ballot access by petitioning.
George articulated how having more candidates involved in the political process leads to better candidates, a more diverse political arena, fairer redistricting, and increased voter access and participation.
"A government of the people, by the people, and for the people requires that the citizens of our country be involved in the political process. We must ensure that potential candidates have equal opportunity to run for public office and that our electoral system is fair."
Indiana is one of only four states where the Green Party has never had ballot access.
The Constitution Party also gave testimony and mentioned much of the same information in their shared struggle to participate in Indiana elections.
The Indiana Green Party wants to thank Senator Greg Walker (Republican - District 41) for authoring this bill and for his vision of a more fair and equal democracy where all voices can participate.
SB 571 will have another hearing after the safety of private voter rolls has been addressed. (Update: the bill was defeated)
You can read Dr. Wolfe's full transcript on his website.