No access to ballet (?)

We just got an ‘interest’ piece on the news over here in Oz, about the nomination of Roseanne Barr for a minor party (not that Roseanne).

The comment was made about the party, that it doesn’t have access to the ballot in many states so there is no possibility of her being elected.

Would someone mind explaining what not having access to the ballot means in the context of the US politics?

Established political parties in many States can operate a State-level primary or caucus and the State will basically recognize those candidates as valid candidates on the State’s presidential ballot in November.

If your party isn’t set up in a state, then you won’t be able to get on the ballot in that state as a candidate of that party. Now, any individual can get on the ballot for the Presidency in any state (assuming they meet constitutional eligibility requirements) but there is a process for getting on the ballot that usually involves filing fees, deadlines, and getting enough signatures to show you have enough support to justify being on the ballot.

Each state has the authority to set up its own election laws, a major part of which is determined the legal procedure for having your name placed on the ballot. You obviously need some kind of procedure because if it was open, you’d easily have thousands of people on the ballot for each office. That said, the system does get manipulated. Most officials are members of one of the two big parties and the laws that are enacted tend to reflect this. By making the procedures relatively burdensome, supporters of the big parties can ensure that only organized groups like the big parties can get their candidates on the ballot.

Darn, I thought this was going to be a rant about the perilous state of funding for the fine arts.

You can get on the ballot, but you have to be on your toes.

Here’s an example of a state law. In the state of West Virginia, any party who received 1% or greater in the last gubernatorial election has automatic ballot access until after the next said election.

Obviously any Democrat or Republican will get greater than 1%. Sometimes a Libertarian, a Mountain Party, a Constitution Party, a Green Party, etc. has a good candidate and exceeds that threshold. Sometimes they do not.

When you have automatic ballot access, there is a slot reserved for that party’s nominee. In the spring of an election year, each party nominates via a primary election, a nominee for each office. The winner of that primary election appears under the qualifying party’s banner in the general election. Under the Presidential Election, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will appear under the Democratic and Republican parties banner, respectively, because those parties are automatic qualifiers.

If you are a member of a non-qualifying party, then you get into a complicated system where you must gather enough signatures to have your name placed on the ballot. It’s expensive and time-consuming. There are arguments both for and against such a system, but it does keep from having thousands of crackpots on the ballot.

(and it actually is that Roseanne, if by “that Roseanne” you mean the former standup comedian who had a starring role in a TV series named after her)

I Googled to find an example showing ten candidates on a November Presidential ballot, even though there were only two major candidates. Curiously, the Google hit seems to be a site in the Land of Oz. :wink:

Hmm… Looking at the layout on that example ballot, I’m curious whether Pat Buchanan got more votes than expected in those counties…

Here’s another example of a state process for appearing on the ballot.
I live in a state where it’s not that difficult to get on the ballot, but there is a process, it is technical, and if a party doesn’t follow the rules, they don’t get their candidate on the ballot.