Over the last week, the Pirate Party concept has had some nice airtime in the US, specifically in the states of Oklahoma and Oregon. The latter has even gone national, via CNN.
In Oklahoma, the Pirate Party of Oklahoma (PPOK) has made a name for itself with it’s participation in the Oklahoma Ballot Access Reform (OBAR). Here, the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA – the PBS network in Oklahoma) aired a piece on ballot access reform during their Oklahoma News Report. It features comments from PPOK chairman Marcus Kesler and is a nice clear and balanced piece, focusing on an issue that isn’t often thought of, the ability for a political party to get on the ballot.
In most countries, ballot access for political parties is fairly easy/straight forward. In the US – which describes itself as the home of democracy, the democratic leader of the free world, and a bunch of other similar titles – it’s very difficult. Instead of a single method, which would register a party nationally, each state has it’s own method, and agency (usually part of the office of each Secretary of State, although in Utah, for instance, it’s part of the Lt Governors office). Oklahoma has one of the most restrictive ballot access laws, which effectivelty locks out every party except the Democrats, and the Republicans.
Worse, they also have ‘Close Primaries’. Primaries are pre-elections, where several canddiates belonging to the same party are put into an election, and the winner becomes that party’s candidate in the REAL election. Most primaries are open, which means any legal voter in that state can pick which party primary they want to vote for, but Oklahoma’s closed primary means only those who have officially registered themselves as ‘Democrat’ or ‘Republican’ can participate in their respective primary. It’s an election which only benefits a party, open only to members of that party, paid for with taxpayers money. In most other countries, such things are handled by the parties, internally (I guess American political parties are not considered competent enough to handle that). This was broadcast August 9th
In Oregon, a candidate for Oregon’s 3rd District – Michael Meo – is running under the Pacific Green Party, but has strong Pirate support. His Campaign Manager is also head of the (currently unrecognised) Oregon Pirate Party, and the candidate was endorsed by the National party on July 16th.
Here’s the video from Oregon station KATU (ABC). It was also picked up yesterday on CNN, and broadcast nationwide.
It seems like a good month so far for the United States Pirate Party