Amash introduces bill to eliminate arbitrary party advantages in elections


Date: March 12, 2019
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Elections

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) today introduced the Ballot Fairness Act to prohibit unequal ballot access rules and straight-ticket voting in congressional elections.

Many states maintain rules for congressional elections that create arbitrary, systemic advantages for candidates nominated by major parties. Two of the most common are unequal ballot access rules and straight-ticket voting. Unequal ballot access rules can give automatic ballot access to candidates nominated by a major party while forcing independent and third-party candidates to meet various burdensome requirements. Straight-ticket voting advantages party-affiliated candidates by providing the ability to vote for a political party's entire slate of candidates by making a single selection at the top of the ballot.

These kinds of party advantages can effectively block independent and third-party candidates from office, limiting voters' power in the name of entrenching the dominant parties.

Using Congress's explicit constitutional authority to set rules for congressional elections, the Ballot Fairness Act equalizes ballot access rules by requiring states to impose the same requirements on all congressional candidates seeking to appear on a ballot, regardless of party nomination or affiliation, and eliminates straight-ticket voting for congressional elections.

"Laws should not advantage particular political parties or discriminate against candidates who choose not to affiliate with a party," said Amash. "The Ballot Fairness Act helps equalize the treatment of candidates so elections will be fairer and voters will have more options."