Third parties want space on ballot

By Andy Kwalwaser

Steve Adams’ presidential campaign has no paid staff and no headquarters, and his name will probably not appear on any ballots except as a write-in.

However, he does have a Facebook group.

In an effort to reach young voters, third-party and independent candidates are adopting decentralized, technologically-savvy campaigns. Lesser-known candidates lack the resources offered by organized political parties but are trying to compensate in other ways.

Adams, an Independent candidate, has posted campaign videos on YouTube and has a MySpace page and campaign Web site in addition to his Facebook group.

“If I put out YouTube videos, my father-in-law isn’t likely to see it, but college students are,” Adams said, adding that most of his supporters have university e-mail addresses.

However, funding issues remain a concern. Adams said that supporters around the country send campaign donations through his Web site.

“There are hundreds of millions of dollars spent to win the White House,” Adams said. “People have to get up and say something’s wrong with this.”

Socialist candidate Brian Moore, who runs his campaign out of his Florida home, said he has between 35 to 40 volunteers campaigning across the country to put his name on primary ballots.

“Illinois is almost impossible,” Moore said. “It’s typical majority-party obstructionism.”

Andrew Zimmerer, convener of the International Socialist Organization on-campus chapter, said the registered student organization will not endorse any other candidate in the absence of a socialist on the Illinois ballot.

Moore alleged that state ballot regulations favor established political parties, to the exclusion of third parties and independents. Democratic and Republican candidates need 3,000 signatures to qualify for a primary ballot, but other candidates need 25,000 signatures.

The Green Party received recognition on Illinois ballots after Rich Whitney won 10 percent of the vote in the 2006 gubernatorial race. Prairie Green Party Press Secretary Tom Abrams said the party still favors lower signature requirements.

“America’s 300 million citizens can’t be adequately represented by three parties,” Abrams said.

The college vote is enthusiastically courted by third-party and independent candidates seeking a foothold with new voters.

“People think they have to believe everything from one label – conservative or liberal, democrat or republican,” Adams said. “I’ve tapped into that area of discontent.”

Some students share this view.

“Young people haven’t voted as much and are a little more open-minded,” said Mark Mallon, junior in LAS and treasurer of Campus Greens, a local Green Party activist group.

Mallon said the organization does not plan to specifically endorse any of the three Green Party candidates on the Illinois primary ballot.