Ralph Nader recently qualified for ballot access in Arizona receiving nearly 6,500 more signatures than are required by Arizona law. However, the Arizona state Democratic Party has organized a multifaceted campaign to keep Nader off the ballot, arguing in a recent email that keeping Nader off the ballot “will benefit others across the country who are also working to get Bush out of the Whitehouse this election.” Furthermore, Jim Pederson, chairperson of the state Democratic Party, when explaining why the Democratic Party is using lawyers to verify each signature collected by the Nader campaign has asserted that “this vote is about George Bush and John Kerry, and we think it distorts the entire electoral process to have his [Nader's] name on the ballot (source).”
The campaign escalated yesterday when two Democratic Party members filed a lawsuit charging that 70% of Nader’s signatures were invalid, in addition to a number of other alleged violations of Arizona electoral procedure including a failure to properly file papers and allowing convicted felons to collect signatures. Yesterday Pederson was quoted saying that “there was enough controversy coming out of 2000 concerning election practices in this country that we don’t want a repeat of that.” Despite Pederson’s great concern for guarding against what were termed “electoral irregularities” in 2000, he has not addressed the ethics of working to keep an election between the two major parties, nor has he addressed questions concerning potential violations of law in Arizona by the Democratic Party. According to Arizona law, a political party cannot file a lawsuit challenging ballot access of a rival party or candidate, yet it the Arizona Democratic Party is providing office space to coordinate this effort and that two party members are listed as plaintiffs on the lawsuit.
On a related election note, Democracy Now ran an interesting debate yesterday between Nader’s vice presidential candidate Peter Camejo and leading Green Party candidate David Cobb. They discussed a variety of issue including whether the Green Party should endorse Nader’s campaign, the differences and similarities between George Bush and John Kerry, and the need for election reform in the United States. The interview is available online.