When it comes to elections in the United States, most people feel like they only have a choice between a Democrat and a Republican. Many times an additional candidate will appear on a ballot from the Green Party, Libertarian Party or a completely different party, but many voters still opt for either the Republican or Democrat. For those disenfranchised with the American political process, a viable third party candidate would seem like a breath of fresh air. This begs the question: why is third party ballot access so difficult to attain?
Roadblocks to the Ballot for Third Parties
Every state has its own requirements for how a candidate can get on the ballot. Even if a third party candidate manages to get on the ballot for one state, he or she still has 49 left to go. Many third parties simply do not have the resources that the Democrats and Republicans have. This can make it difficult when a certain number of signatures are needed for someone to get in the race.
There are already inherent roadblocks for third-party candidates to get on the ballot, and sometimes both the Republicans and Democrats make this process even more difficult. Smear campaigns make it seem like third party candidates are a hindrance to voters who want to see their candidate from one of the major parties actually get into the White House. One of the most popular stories in recent memory is the belief that if Ralph Nader did not run for president in 2000, then Al Gore could have become president instead of George W. Bush.
Picking Your Candidate
Unless comprehensive ballot reform takes place on the federal level, it seems as though America will have the duopoly for a while. The best anyone can do is look at all the candidates running, third party or not, and reach a decision on who represents your interests best.