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Lansing State Journal


Green Party a thorn in side of Democrats
By Chris Andrews
November 28, 2002

Democrats have come up with an acronym for the Green Party :

Get Republicans Elected Every November.

Were it not for the Greens, Democrats believe, Al Gore would be president, Dianne Byrum would be in Congress and state Sen. Gary Peters would be preparing to take over as attorney general.

On Monday, the Board of State Canvassers certified Republican Mike Cox's 5,200-vote win over Peters in one of the closest races in state history. More than 3 million votes were cast.

Green Party candidate Jerry Kaufman garnered 47,894 votes. Democrats have little doubt the vast majority of those votes would have gone to Peters had Kaufman not been in the race.

The Greens have been a thorn in the side of Democrats, to say the least.

In the 2000 election, the thousands of votes cast for Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader in Florida and New Hampshire were considerably more than the margin of victory for George W. Bush over Gore.

Had Gore carried either of those states, he would never have grown a beard.

In the 8th District congressional race that year, Republican Mike Rogers defeated Byrum by just 111 votes.

Green Party candidate Bonnie Bucqueroux tallied 3,467 votes - about 1 percent of the vote, but 30 times the margin of victory.

Of course, third parties are born out of frustration that neither of the major parties is addressing issues important to disaffected voters.

Arguably, Democrats have no one to blame but themselves if voters desert them for the Greens.

And Democrats aren't the only party affected by minor parties.

Most of the 27,186 voters who supported U.S. Taxpayers candidate Gerald Van Sickle for attorney general probably would have otherwise voted for Cox.

The Michigan Green Party advocates a change to "instant runoff voting," in which voters rank their preferences for an office rather than just pick one candidate.

If no candidate has a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and his or her votes go to the voters' second choice.

With that system, a voter who wanted to support Kaufman for attorney general but preferred Peters over Cox could have ranked them in that order.

San Francisco voters approved such a measure last March.

A similar change is unlikely to happen in Michigan any time soon - and certainly not while Republicans control the Legislature.

The existing system is working just fine for them.


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