By Mark Wachtler
October 14, 2014. Edina, MN. (ONN) The League of Women Voters has struck again. If it’s election season, it’s a sure bet the blatantly biased political action committee is strangling democracy and shutting voters and candidates out of America’s election system. Those are strong charges against an organization with such a wonderful sounding name. But anyone who’s been paying attention for the past 20 years knows it’s true. And two recent episodes from the current election cycle illustrate it.
A League of Women Voters supporter stamps out transparency and democracy by using his hand to block the videotaping of a candidate debate on public property in Edina, Minnesota. Image courtesy of Watchdog.org.
League of Women Voters
The usual tactic used by the League of Women Voters to insure only establishment Republicans and Democrats can participate in our country’s electoral system is to ban independents, Libertarians, Greens and everyone else from being included in League-sponsored, televised candidate debates. When opposition candidates file complaints, the League says the candidates must be polling at least 5% to be included. Except, it’s impossible to poll 5% when your name is purposely left off the polls.
And when the opposition candidate’s name is included in the poll and they garner over 5%, the League of Women Voters is guaranteed to exclude them anyway, saying that only AP, Reuters or NY Times polls are acceptable. And when the candidate does poll over 5% in an accepted poll, the League will undoubtedly say sorry, you still can’t participate in the debates because the poll had to be conducted between September 1 to September 30 and it’s simply too late to change the format and logistics of the debate. The moral of the story is that the League of Women Voters sponsors more election debates than any other organization. And they are consistently the number one impediment to free, fair and open elections in America.
Chad Grimm - Libertarian for Illinois Governor
Illustrating just how rigged America’s election system is, Libertarian candidate for Illinois Governor Chad Grimm is a case study. First, Illinois requires independents, Libertarians, Greens and any non-Democrats and Republicans to collect 20,000 petition signatures to run for the same office that requires Democrats and Republicans to only submit 500 signatures. Second, even after the candidates submit the required signatures, they are challenged by Republicans and Democrats and kicked off the ballot anyway by other Republicans and Democrats in the Board of Elections office, just as the Green Party and Constitution Party were this year in Illinois.
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But this time, the Libertarian Party of Illinois submitted a staggering 42,986 petition signatures, guaranteeing their candidates would be included on the November ballot. Even after the state’s Republicans sent gun-toting thugs to the homes of Libertarians, terrorizing them into signing affidavits saying their petition signatures were fraudulent, the Libertarians still managed to hang onto their ballot inclusion. Read the report from our sister publication, the Illinois Herald for more details.
But that is little consolation when the corporate-owned media blacks out your campaign and the League of Women Voters changes their participation criteria specifically to insure you don’t appear on TV alongside the Republican and Democrat, even though you’re the only three on the ballot. In the case of Chad Grimm and last week’s televised debates, the League of Women Voters decided their decade-old 5% polling requirement would be changed to 10%. Why? Because Libertarian Chad Grimm is polling 8%.
“Libertarian hopeful Chad Grimm wasn’t invited to last week’s debate in Peoria or Tuesday’s debate in Chicago on CBS 2 because he is not scoring high enough in opinion polls, a chicken and egg situation that frustrates him,” CBS 2 Chicago reported yesterday, “He says if the people could hear his views, more people would support him.”
The local Herald & Review demonstrated the ramifications of being excluded from the televised debates. In their coverage of the state’s first Gubernatorial debate, the outlet published nearly every single talking point both Republican and Democrat candidate made. The third candidate on the ballot, Libertarian Chad Grimm, was relegated to two sentences at the very end of the lengthy news report, ‘Libertarian Party candidate Chad Grimm also is on the gubernatorial ballot. He was not invited to the debate.’
League bans cameras from public functions on public property
Having spent the past 20 years perfecting the art of banning all independent and opposition candidates from election debates, the League of Women Voters has set its sights on banning journalists and reporters from documenting the words and statements of Republican and Democrat candidates. That revelation was brought to light recently by the Minnesota bureau of our good friends at Watchdog.org.
‘No reward has been offered to the person who identifies the guy who, apparently, took it upon himself to enforce a League of Women Voters ban on videotaping candidate forums at Edina City Hall,’ the Watchdog report humorously begins, ‘It was going to be a long night when two League of Women Voters local representatives cornered the cameraman before the event started. They asked him not to film and offered access to video of the event from the public access channel.’
The cameraman happened to be from the local Minnesota Jobs Coalition and was there to document the debate between two Minnesota State Representative candidates. “It’s a public event with public officials in a public space. Why wouldn’t we?” remarked Ben Golnik, Chairman of the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, “They’re inviting the public to come there. Why shouldn’t someone be able to run a camera?”
For upwards of 15 minutes during the candidate debate, the League of Women Voters supporter suppressed the video and intimidated cameraman Ethan Hellier. “We can turn this off,” the man is captured on tape telling Hellier. “No, you can’t,” he replies, ”Move your hand.” Videographer Ethan Hellier goes on to stand his ground insisting, “You can’t kick me out of here. You can’t kick me out of here.”
But the League of Women Voters was serious about suppressing the news and keeping the election as orchestrated as possible. They went so far as to phone Hellier’s boss at the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, urging him to convince his cameraman to stop filming the candidate debate.
Describing non-existent “flashing bulbs”, the League’s on-site representative tried to explain why candidate debates sponsored by the League of Women Voters ban video cameras. “You get your camera out, everyone in this room has a camera, right?” said the League’s Debby McNeil, “The League is the only one that takes pictures and we just take a picture for our newsletter. We get a situation in where everybody’s distracted by flashing bulbs.”
Minnesota League of Women Voters Executive Director Susan Sheridan-Tucker took the group’s hypocrisy to all new levels when she attempted to explain, “It’s the rules we’ve set up and we try to provide that space. I can see first-Amenders coming in and saying it’s restrictive, I get that. I guess it’s an act of hospitality and just trying to keep things at a level playing field for everybody.” For further details, check out Watchdog.org.