ATLANTA, July 30, 2016 — Today, in the throes of summer heat and Saturday farmer’s markets all across the state of Virginia, ordinary people on a not-so-ordinary mission were finding ways to communicate with one another. Their mission: signing petitions to have third party/Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein’s name on the ballot in November. The success they are having is being echoed across the country — with the look and feel of a Green Party movement.
On today’s Green Party of Virginia’s Facebook page, one potential signer posted, “Just tried calling TCC [Tidewater Community College], but their offices close at 1pm,” followed an hour later with “Found it! For anyone interested, there’s a guy Jeff outside of campus on Granby Street with the petition.”
These Virginia posts resemble the energetic posts found across several Facebook pages in Georgia during the ballot access drive that successfully delivered over 11,000 signatures (in excess of the required 7,500) on July 12th, to the Board of Elections division of Georgia’s Secretary of State. On Monday, August 1st, the states of Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, will end their ballot access efforts as well.
All across the country, these efforts are building, state by state, as ballot access coordinators deliver the required signatures for Stein and other third party presidential candidates through a combination of grassroots efforts, skillful petitioners, and a few dedicated advocates — like Sid Smith in Virginia:
“We’ve been on the radio, sharing our story, as we are getting ready to turn in our signatures by Aug. 26th,” Smith explains. “Virginia has many densely populated urban centers that are, for the most part, far away from one another. It is really exciting to see it all coming together, especially as more people become aware of the third party choices, like Jill Stein.
“Being a Green Party advocate, I have seen the rise of interest in this Presidential election cycle like no other time of my involvement. It really is a Green Party movement unfolding, through people connecting with one another in as ways as simple as social media.”
With the Republican and Democratic Conventions now behind the country, interest in third party options are reaching record numbers. Some research points to as much as a 70% increase in google searches for third party presidential candidates. Particularly Jill Stein, the presumptive Green Party presidential nominee.
In a “U.S. Uncut” article by Tom Cahill on July 13, 2016, google searches for Jill Stein “have seen a hockey stick increase” after Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Hillary Clinton.
Third party ballot access community engagement efforts are clearly one way of gauging potential voter turn-out, but perhaps more telling, is the visible entrance of voters across the country who had not been participating in any party, and who had not been looking to vote in this presidential election — until Jill Stein.
“The rise in genuine, earnest community engagement, after Jill Stein’s June 30th visit to Atlanta, has been uniquely noticeable,” affirms Green Party Mayoral Candidate of Atlanta Al Bartell. “The number of newly participating individuals exploded going into the petition deadline. The volumes of emails, phone calls, and social media hits all across the state of Georgia, specifically asking how to become involved, has not let up since.
“We see the same thing happening throughout the Southeastern states, as we’re witnessing in Virginia now, and as we’re already starting to see in Alabama.”
Bartell, slated to speak at the Houston Presidential Nominating Convention opening press conferences on Friday Aug. 5th, is known as an environmental and community engagement activist with over 30 years of public policy experience. He has been working closely with the Proctor Creek Urban Waters Federal Partnership, watershed basin residents, and Urban Leaders in the Environmental Movement of America (ULEMA) to explore strategies in preventing disruptive gentrification in Atlanta, while engaging residents to benefit from economic development in Proctor Creek’s environmental revitalization.
“The Green Party movement happening in America has launched an unprecedented ballot access strategy and a local-state-national party-building effort,” observes Bartell. “This convention has the capability to ignite the first truly progressive — and lasting — movement in the dawn of the 21st century. I am going to Houston to support that happening. This new participation, this authentic community engagement, will not be going away.”
To those who view the Green Party/third party candidates as potential “spoilers”, whether tipping the balance of votes in favor of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, Jill Stein recounts how the Republican Party was, once upon a time in American history, charged with being “spoilers” as well, because of their stand against slavery, an issue which helped formed the new party, but which went against the grain of the existing Democratic Party’s intentions.
In an interview with 8-time Emmy Award-winning and pioneering black news reporter Maynard Eaton, Stein addressed the concern of third party candidates being “spoilers” in several of her answers to Eaton’s probe. Eaton’s two-part interview was carried on Atlanta’s public access television station People TV and online at The Maynard Report.
Maynard Eaton interviewing Jill Stein during Atlanta visit end of June
With the distinct possibility of being included in the nationally televised presidential debates now within reach, third party presidential candidates and the Green Party Movement will not going away. Regardless of polls, corporate media, and naysayers, there is a new energy around participation in the American democracy.
The Green Party Movement’s landing in Houston next weekend may be a great place to witness it.