Election proposal should not limit choices

As a partial government shutdown enters its third week, partisan rancor intensifies. Default looms. Polls finds voters are fed up with members of both major political parties.

But October also has seen a bill to limit voters’ choices to those two parties sail halfway though the statehouse.

Senate Bill 193 is intended to “eliminate intermediate political parties, to revise the processes for determining political party status and for establishing new political parties” according to an official bill synopsis.

The measure would require minor parties to obtain valid petition signatures from at least 1 percent of the total vote cast in the most recent election for governor or president. To remain a qualified political party, such a group would have to garner at least 3 percent of the total votes cast in the following gubernatorial or presidential election.

The Senate passed the proposal 22-11 – one Republican senator joined Democrats in opposition – and sent it to the House.

Critics have dubbed it the John Kasich Re-election Protection Act. With Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald a likely Democratic nominee, Kasich doesn’t need a Libertarian candidate such as Charlie Earl attracting conservative voters.

True, third parties tend to arise on the fringes flanking the conservative and liberal parties – think of the Libertarian or Green parties – and not the center, where many middle-of-the-road independent voters can be found. But the goal of election laws should not be to limit voters’ choices. And lawmakers should not craft laws meant to strengthen their parties’ hold on power.

We hope the House passes a version closer to the directive issued by Secretary of State Jon Husted that allows access to the ballot by minor parties.