By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY–Thursday, a bill reducing the number of names of qualified electors’ signature required on a petition for third party or independent party candidates to get on the ballot by half passed the Senate Floor.
Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) sponsored bill SB15 reducing the percentage of required signatures from three to one and one-half percent of the qualified elector who cast ballots in the last general election for legislature or statewide office. Candidate are still required to fulfill all other requirements.
Sen. Ward said, “I think my bill gets us a step closer to allowing more people to participate in the political process.”
Alabama has ranked number 50 for the last 12 years for ease of ballot access. Mississippi is currently number 3.
Sen. Ward said, “It should be easier to run for office in Alabama than harder. People should be able to participate in the political process and not be barred by the strictest laws in the United States. We have the strictest laws in the country. This law does not make it the easiest but it puts us about in the middle of all of the other states,” said Sen. Ward.
Currently it requires 22,416 signatures to be placed on the legislative ballot for third party or independent candidates.
Sen. Ward questions why Alabama has a system in place that basically disenfranchises many people from having any voice in politics.
“You should be able to run for office. You shouldn’t have to be Republican or Democrat you could be either party or Independent. Anybody should be able to do what they want to do,” said Sen. Ward. “I am a life-long republican and will continue being a life-long republican. Other people may not agree with me but they should have the opportunity to run for office if they want to.”
The bill will now be sent to the House and assigned to committee.