This article is a comprehensive treatise on the legal and political issues that confront independent voters in their fight for full inclusion in the American electoral system. It is a rare combination of succinct political argumentation and exhaustive legal research and analysis.
It opens with the “lay of the land,” the relevant current political and social context. An extensive historical review of the law as it concerns primary elections follows. Next is a section on voting rights, covering everything from the struggles of African Americans to gain full entry to the franchise to ballot access cases. Then there is a detailed summary of the seminal legal decisions on voter participation. The final two sections deal with issues in the contemporary political landscape, including all of the recent case law on open primaries. The piece ends with a hard-hitting political conclusion that makes the case for the courts ending the second-class citizen status that independents now “enjoy.”
As a longtime independent activist who has coordinated many ballot access drives, I am familiar with much of the content included in this article. I found seeing everything “in one place” a staggering and thrilling experience.
I think this piece is a must read for independent activists as well as attorneys involved in political reform litigation, for whom it is an invaluable resource for argumentation and citations.
David Belmont is a multi-media artist, community organizer and long-time political reform activist. He was Ballot Access Coordinator for Dr. Lenora Fulani’s 1988 presidential campaign and is currently a researcher for independentvoting.org.
With the publication of “Let All Voters Vote” in the Touro Law Review, Jeremy Gruber, Michael Hardy, and Harry Kresky have rendered a tremendous and timely service to tens of millions of unaffiliated voters, to the many more millions of independent-minded voters, and to all fair-minded Americans who believe in government by and for the people.
As Jeremy Gruber says in the IVN interview podcast, a primary purpose of the article is to educate the judiciary about the disenfranchisement of independent voters.
But the article is extremely well written and, for a legal brief, relatively untechnical. It gives a concise but comprehensive history of primary elections, and locates the intensifying movement for open primaries in the long history of struggle, following the Civil War, to progressively extend voting rights to all the disenfranchised (former slaves, Native Americans, women) and then to strike down the laws (like poll taxes) and legal doctrines (like “separate but equal”) aimed at voter suppression.
So, let the justices take note. But in the meantime, this is an article for the all rest of us – to better understand our movement, and to go on building it.
Lou Hinman lives in New York City and is an activist with IndependentVoting.org and a member of Independent Voting’s Welcome Committee.