A bill making its way through the Texas Legislature is seen by critics as an attempt to keep the Lone Star State from becoming a “purple state”.
House Bill 2504, sponsored by Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster), would give third parties state-wide ballot access if they can get 2% of the statewide vote in one of the last five general elections, according to a Texas Tribune report.
Currently, ballot access is granted to third parties when a candidate wins by more than 5% of the vote in a statewide race during a previous election cycle. The Texas Libertarian Party has consistently met the threshold in recent election cycles, while the Texas Green Party last met that mark in 2010, when its candidate for state comptroller received 6% of the vote.
Green Party candidates were shut out from the Texas ballot in 2018 because none of the party’s statewide candidates drew 5% of the vote during the cycle, according to the report.
Separately, the legislation also has provisions for third parties to either pay filing fees or secure a certain number of signatures to get on the November ballot.
The lower threshold for third parties is seen by Texas Democrats as a move by Republicans to get more Green Party candidates on the state ballot, because historically, they have managed to attract Democratic-leaning voters.
From The Texas Tribune:
Glen Maxey, legislative affairs director for the Texas Democratic Party, suggested that the bill is an attempt to topple the efforts of Democrats to turn Texas purple next year. He highlighted in particular Democrats’ efforts to flip the Texas House, which is currently made up of 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats. Libertarian candidates are widely viewed as pulling votes from Republicans, while Green Party candidates are more likely to pull votes from Democratic candidates, Maxey said. He predicted Green Party candidates would receive money from Republican donors to cover the filing fees.
“This is a major deal of cynical Republicans trying to once again put their thumb on the scale when they can’t win an election fair and square,” Maxey said. “They want to stack it with third-party candidates, so that unsuspecting voters that may think, ‘Neither major party speaks for me, so I’m just going to go do a protest vote by voting for this Green Party candidate.’
The legislation, which was provisionally passed by the Senate last week on a party-line 19-12 vote is expected to head to the governor’s desk for his signature if it gains final approval by the chamber.