David Wallechinsky writes:
It’s only natural that the Democratic incumbent, Barack Obama, and the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, should participate in tonight’s first presidential debate, but in fact there are two other candidates who qualified for the ballot in enough states that they could, technically, win the election.
Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party is on the ballot of 48 states and Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party is on 39 state ballots. In a pure democracy it would be considered a given that Johnson and Stein would join Obama and Romney on stage, but in the United States elections don’t work that way. That’s because the three presidential debates are run not by the government, but by a nonprofit organization, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). The CPD was created in 1987 by the Democratic and Republican parties as a bipartisan—rather than a nonpartisan—effort.
The current co-chairmen of the CPD are Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. and Michael D. McCurry. Fahrenkopf is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, while McCurry was President Bill Clinton’s press secretary. Not surprisingly, Fahrenkopf and McCurry have set a high bar to keep out third party candidates.
To qualify for the debates, candidates must “have demonstrated a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate, as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recent publicly-reported results [as of September 21].” Of course it’s almost impossible to earn the support of 15% of the electorate if you don’t have regular access to network television or to the debates themselves.
For the record, the debates have seven national sponsors: Anheuser-Busch, The Howard G. Buffet Foundation, Sheldon S. Cohen, Crowell & Moring, the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), The Kovler Fund and Southwest Airlines. There used to be more, but in recent days the YWCA and Philips Electronics have withdrawn their support for the debates over the issue of third party access, as has British advertising firm BBH New York. …
Romney last faced Jill Stein in a 2002 gubernatorial debate which Massachusetts media later declared Dr. Stein the winner. You can see the video by clicking here.
It doesn’t mater who won last night’s debates, you lost by accepting a false choice. Would you rather continue to be robbed of your rights, freedoms and money by criminal A or criminal B? The elections are rigged.
– June 2006, A Pottawattamie County, Iowa election official hand counted her ballots and was surprised to find a total entirely different than the results noted on the voting machines. The manufacturer, Election Systems & Software, admitted that it had programmed the machines incorrectly. …
– Boone County, Indiana: 19,000 registered voters, 144,000 votes counted . (Nov. 2003) http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/ 2004/10/22/politics/main650884.shtml
– Tarrant County, Texas: 58,000 votes cast, 158,103 votes counted (Mar. 9, 2006; The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram “Vote spike blamed on program snafu”)
– Allamakee County, Iowa: 300 votes fed into the machine, 4 million votes came out (Nov. 2000; According to the Wall Street Journal, Nov. 17, 2000 “Fuzzy Numbers”)
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