Monday, March 18, 2013

Greens to Host National Convention in Iowa City

Something different for county fair/RAGBRAI week: the Green Party is holding its annual "national meeting" July 25-28 in Iowa City (at the IMU).

That's about it for the details, so time for my periodic comment that people really aren't using the third party options on Iowa's voter registration forms.

The right to register in a third party was a big fight last decade, as the Greens and Libertarians took the matter to court. Iowa's bar for party status was a bit high - 2% every two years for the top of the ticket office, president or governor. Ross Perot (`96) and Ralph Nader (2000) made it, but Reform and the Greens lost full status in the next gubernatorial race.

In a compromise settlement (later made law) worked out under Secretary of State Mike Mauro, the Greens and Libertarians were able to petition for "party organization" status. Voters can register with these parties, but they don't have primaries.

After all that, only 3046 of the state's 1,974,196 active status voters are registered as either Green or Libertarian. (Unfortunately, the Secretary of State's stats lump the two together as "Other.") There's no benchmark for the Libertarians, who never had full-party status. And despite the success of the libertarian movement, its growth seems to be outside the Libertarian Party.

But here in Johnson County, Green registration is about one quarter what it was in 2002 when the party had full status. That's more a function of the times and, frankly, the results of 2000 than a matter of the different level of party status; only a tiny handful of a few dozen voted in the uncontested 2002 Green primary. And from 2000 to 2004, roughly 90% of the Nader/Green vote shifted to the Democrats.

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