As the clock ticks toward the Wednesday deadline for names to appear on Connecticut’s presidential ballot this November, third-party supporters are ramping up their efforts to get their candidates listed.
To be listed on Connecticut’s ballot, candidates must have 7,500 signatures submitted to local registrars or the Secretary of the State by the deadline.
The problem, according to Mike DeRosa, Connecticut’s Green Party Chairman, is the “validation process” — a process he called “archaic, convoluted and, frankly, against the law.”
To ensure their candidate for president, Jill Stein, makes the ballot, DeRosa said the Green Party’s plan is “double’’ the 7,500 signature requirement.
“We’re in pretty good shape,’’ DeRosa said. “We have close to 8,000-to-9,000 signatures already. I’m 85-to-90 percent sure we’ll hit the 15,000 figure I’ve been saying we need.”
DeRosa said the Green Party has “close to 300 volunteers” working on gathering signatures, saying a full-court press was what put her over this past weekend to hit the goal. DeRosa said a special effort was made to gather signatures in Hartford.
The other third-party candidate running for president is Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. Repeated efforts to reach his campaign on his Connecticut petition drive effort were unsuccessful.
A June Quinnipiac University poll showed that Johnson had the support of 6 percent of Connecticut presidential voters and that Stein had 3 percent.
DeRosa said the petition campaign is limited by the fact that supporters of the Green Party can only gather signatures in “specific locations. We have been subjected to police harassment and other abusive behavior,” he said.
He added that the “very people in charge of validating the petition process are the ones who have a vested interested in ensuring the two-party system is protected at all costs.”
The validation process allows signatures to be not counted for a number of reasons, including illegible signatures, and incorrect or illegible listings of dates of births, addresses and hometowns.
DeRosa said even though the deadline for filing the petition is Aug. 10, it isn’t likely to be known “until two-to-three weeks later” whether any third-party candidates made the ballot.
A spokesman in Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s office, Patrick Gallahue, confirmed that petition validation wouldn’t start until after the deadline.
DeRosa said that Connecticut’s petition system is “draconian” and that it is likely a lawsuit will be filed against it at some point by Green Party representatives.
The third-party candidates still track far behind Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s 41 percent and the 36 percent who support Republican Donald Trump, in the most recent Quinnipiac University poll. But their showing in the poll is stronger than third-party-candidates in recent presidential races in Connecticut.
Being a third-party candidate has never been easy.
Third parties have never won a U.S. presidential election. Former Republican President Teddy Roosevelt, running on the Bull Moose Party ticket, got 27 percent of the popular vote and 88 electoral votes in 1912. He finished second to Democrat Woodrow Wilson, the only time a third-party candidate has finished that well.
Other notable third-party runs include former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who got 13 percent of the popular vote in 1968, winning 45 electoral votes; and billionaire businessman H. Ross Perot, who got 19 percent of the popular vote in 1992 but no electoral votes.