Barriers to Participation

Despite the nation’s founding commitment to participatory democracy, many barriers to candidate and public participation in the electoral process are damaging the public’s confidence that our elections are fair and open to full participation by candidates and voters.

The nominating processes created by the two major parties mainly serve the goals of party “insiders” and the more politically extreme factions, at the expense of competition and public confidence in the two-party system. At the same time, barriers to minor party and independent candidates-closed primaries, excessive early-voter registration requirements and complicated state primary and general ballot access requirements-operate to foreclose the possibility of a meaningful multiparty system.

This Article will evaluate these and other legal and political barriers, and discuss the cost that such practices impose upon the nation’s civic life.