Green Party Has Quarter Million Registered Voters

The December issue of Ballot Access News reports on 2008 October Registration Totals by political party for those states that have party registration, 21 states do not.

According to this, the Green Party’s registration numbers are at 255,019 (0.25%). This is below the October 2004 numbers (298,701, 0.34%) but still over 20% higher than October 2000 (193,332, 0.22%). These numbers are heavily dependent on California (118,416 registered Greens as of Oct 2008) followed by New York (28,983), Maine (27,354), and Pennsylvania (16,686).

Other states with reporting numbers include: Alaska (2,926), Arizona (4,009), Colorado (5,526), Connecticut (1,906), Delaware (587), DC (4,548), Florida (6,007), Iowa (356), Kentucky (329), Louisiana (1,040), Maryland (8,384), Massachusetts (7,522), Nebraska (1,041), Nevada (3,349), New Jersey (953), New Mexico (5,290), Oregon (8,834), and West Virginia (973).

Ronald Hardy


  1. The CA Greens spent so much of the last few years trashing the party, only to find out that most of the dysfunction was in CA. greg gerritt

  2. Well, as we can see, the CA Greens have roughly 45% of the registered US Green population so they should have 45% say in the direction of the Party. If you continue to disenfranchise them, they will rightfully trash you (and no comments about “dont feed the troll, ain’t no one around here trollin, this is the truth).

  3. You are not a troll, OhMy. (Neither is Cavlan in my opinion, for the record). I was wondering how long it would take for Greg’s comment to elicit a response! There is no doubt that bucket loads of registered Greens are in California. However there are ZERO registered Greens in Wisconsin and 20 other states because there is no registration by political party in those states.

    You can’t deny those states a say in the direction of the party, of course.

  4. No one is. But these states are a miniscule amount and do not equal 118,000, probably not even together. If you take delegates in ratio to the number of registered voters who show up to vote in these primaries, it is these small states that have WAY more representation than CA. Just count the Greens who show up to vote, even in the states with no partisan registration.

    I completely understand why CA Greens are pissed. I would be too if I lived in CA. Gerritt is just posting for the sole sake of being vindictive nasty, and not acknowledging the reality that the anger of CA Greens is justified.

  5. Voting in primaries – in Wisconsin there is no primary for the President that is run by the state. I imagine all these other little states are in the same boat – in fact only 5 or 6 states have state run primaries for the Greens for President (CA, IL, AR, DC, NE I think). If we wanted a really fair representation of Green voters in a Presidential Primary we should hold a National Primary using some kind of online voting system.

    In Wisconsin our Secretary of State candidate received over 100,000 votes in 2006.

    In California around 30,000 Greens voted in the Feb 5, 2008 Presidential Primary.

    Sure, you can’t compare California’s Presidential Primary numbers to a state wide general election in Wisconsin, but neither can you compare a state run primary in California with a ballot mailed to every known member of the Wisconsin Green Party and from that determine that there are less than 100 Greens in Wisconsin.

    Maybe we would be better off comparing the number of votes cast for the Green Party candidate for President in the general election.

  6. Clarification: in Wisconsin there is no primary for the President that is run by the state FOR THE GREEN PARTY.

  7. At least Ronald Hardy is trying to come up with solutions.

    I don’t see why primaries that are not run by the states and only by the Green Parties should not count, and why the party should not give weight to the number of people who actually show up and vote or mail ballots in.

    but I do support the idea of a national primary and on-line voting. It is sad that this topic gets swept under the rug for the sake of “getting along”. But the GNC (I am not a member, but I know people who are and WANT OUT) is an on-line cesspool where people bicker and talk about things that are irrelevant, so change won’t come through them.

  8. Thanks for the link: the idea that CA has a state-sponsored primary paid with tax dollars and other states do not does not hold water because the other states’ primaries (Maryland included) allow people to mail in ballots, so if they can’t afford to attend, they can vote by mail.

    So again: CA voters are being disenfranchised for presidential primaries. It is in the INTEREST of all Greens to strengthen California so they can get more candidates into office. If CA (the most left state in the US) gets stronger, the Party will get stronger as a whole.

    The idea that if CA voters were not disenfranchised that we would be electing the “president of CA” is a red herring. If they have the most voters, the most offices, and are the backbone of the Party, then they should get the most votes.

    Many Greens are hostile to the idea of letting a majority winning the day, this is what the anti-CA current stems from, for the most part.

  9. I don’t mean to drag this out, but just because someone can mail in their ballot isn’t germane to the point. Who in Maryland can mail in a ballot? If there is no registration by party in Maryland, who gets a ballot? Anyone? How do they get one? Making someone work for a ballot rather than providing them one at the polling place is the equivalent of running a write-in campaign versus being on the ballot.

    But the other issue you bring up about strengthening California is a good one. California should be a leader in the Green Party. How does giving California 50-60% of the Presidential Delegates strengthen the state? What difference does that make for state party organizing? Will the California Green Party grow in activism, voter registrations, candidates, electeds, etc., if they get twice as many Presidential Delegates that they got? How? What is the correlation? California had 168 delegates, 43 of which made it to Chicago, with 43 more counted as proxies. If they had 420 of the 800+ delegates, would more than 43 have made it to Chicago – and if they did, again, how would that impact the strength of the California Green Party?

    But lets keep things in perspective. If 50-60% of the Greens are in California, then we should assume that at least 50% of Cynthia McKinney’s votes on Nov. 4 came from California, right?

    Nov. 4 – votes for the Green Party candidate for President:

    California: 37,084 – 23.5% of McKinney’s total vote.
    California Presidential Delegates: 168, 20.1% of total allotted.

    Wisconsin: 4,234 – 2.7% of McKinney’s total vote.
    Wisconsin’s Presidential Delegates: 24, 2.9% of total allotted.

    Maryland: 4,745 – 3.0% of McKinney’s total vote.
    Maryland’s Presidential Delegates: 16 – 1.9% of total allotted.

    I think if we did this for every state that McKinney was on the ballot, we would find that the percent of McKinney’s total votes per state won’t deviate too far from the percent of Presidential Delegates per state.

    If this formula were used to determine Presidential Delegates in 2012, Maryland would receive more Delegates than 2008, California a few more, Wisconsin a few less, but the proportion across the board wouldn’t be too far off. An exception would have to be made for states that have draconian ballot access laws, thus couldn’t vote for McKinney except by write-in.

  10. I don’t think anyone is trying to disenfranchise California, or deny its importance to the Green Party. People are just trying to cope with an unfortunate reality, and forge a fair system of representation out of an unfair system of 51 different ballot access laws. For example, New York has a sizable progressive population, but since the state is actively trying to suppress the NY Green Party, by fair means or foul, it’s an uphill battle to even register Greens, much less elect them. Still, the system we have is far from perfect, and I understand why CA Greens are upset about it.
    Some sort of national online primary would be a good idea, with the big caveat that not everyone has internet access. If we could actively confront that problem and figure out a solution, then an online primary could be not just a way to sort out the delegate mess, but also a decent way to get some attention for the GP on the ol’ interweb.

    Speaking of the interweb, I know that discussions can get heated. However, when someone posts without any clear purpose other than to be provocative, that is definitely trolling, especially by the standards of this site.
    On the subject of trolls, thus sayeth wikipedia, fount of all knowledge:
    An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of provoking other users into an emotional response[1] or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.

    Application of the term troll is highly subjective. Some readers may characterize a post as trolling, while others may regard the same post as a legitimate contribution to the discussion, even if controversial. The term is often used to discredit an opposing position, or its proponent, by argument fallacy ad hominem.
    Often, calling someone a troll makes assumptions about a writer’s motives. Regardless of the circumstances, controversial posts may attract a particularly strong response from those unfamiliar with the robust dialogue found in some online, rather than physical, communities. Experienced participants in online forums know that the most effective way to discourage a troll is usually to ignore him or her, because responding tends to encourage trolls to continue disruptive posts — hence the often-seen warning: “Please do not feed the trolls”.[11]

    Frequently, someone who has been labelled a troll by a group may seek to redeem their reputation by discrediting their opponents, for example by claiming that other members of the group are closed-minded, conspirators, or trolls themselves.

  11. Actually, the entry on trolls is really interesting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)

    The entry actually sums up one of the best parts of Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” and echoes advice that Martin Luther King also gave his supporters:
    A recently declassified World War II manual on sabotage recommends such techniques to derail any effective action: “Advocate ‘caution.’ Be ‘reasonable’ and urge your fellow-conferees to be ‘reasonable’ and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on… Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.”

    Although the term “concern troll” originated in discussions of online behavior, it now sees increasing use to describe similar behaviors that take place offline.

    For example, James Wolcott in Vanity Fair[16] accused a conservative New York Daily News columnist of “concern troll” behavior in his efforts to downplay the Mark Foley scandal. Wolcott links what he calls concern trolls to Saul Alinsky’s “Do-Nothings,” giving a long quote from Alinsky on the Do-Nothing’s method and effects:

    These Do-Nothings profess a commitment to social change for ideals of justice, equality, and opportunity, and then abstain from and discourage all effective action for change. They are known by their brand, ‘I agree with your ends but not your means.’

  12. “Thanks for the link: the idea that CA has a state-sponsored primary paid with tax dollars and other states do not does not hold water because the other states’ primaries (Maryland included) allow people to mail in ballots, so if they can’t afford to attend, they can vote by mail.”

    This is an incorrect analogy. Here are some facts: Maryland has registration by party. The state Board of Elections maintains registration figures for the Green Party. The Maryland Green Party buys that information from the state Board of Elections, so we know who is a registered Green. This year we held a Presidential primary in which any registered Green could mail in a ballot they downloaded from our website.

    Those are the facts. This is my opinion as a Green Party member from Maryland: we are in the second tier of three that need to be considered when apportioning delegates or otherwise weighing the relative strengths of state parties. The bottom tier are states in which there is no registration by party, or in which some parties are allowed on ballot but the Green Party is not. The second tier, including Maryland, includes states in which the Green Party is allowed to register members but cannot have a state-funded primary. The top tier are states, such as a California, in which the Green Party is allowed to exist and the state pays to maintain registration figures and for a primary election.

    These differences between these tiers need to be considered when apportioning delegates, etc. In Maryland we know who our membership is and accept mail-in ballots by any member who downloads a ballot from our website, but we can’t afford to mail a ballot (or a notice alerting members of the election) to every Green in the state. In California and other states in this top tier, the state Board of Elections sends a sample ballot to each registered Green, will send an absentee ballot at state expense to any Green that requests one, funds thousands of polling places in every neighborhood in the state for the duration of election day, and many other things that states in the bottom two tiers can’t get. That is why the number of votes from the state-funded California Green primary and the Maryland Green Party-funded Maryland Green primary can’t be compared against each other fairly. And neither California nor Maryland can be compared to many other states that don’t have registration by party, where the Green Party has to do more work by finding their members before they can inform them about a primary election.

  13. They CAN be compared and you just did so MarylandGreen. You ranked them against each other and created 3 tiers to categorize all the states with respect to registration and funded primaries.

    This is what the Delegate Apportionment Committee was tasked to do some years ago, to look at the various state laws and Green Party activity to come up with a formula that would address the inconsistencies and provide a fair and balanced apportionment.

    In any democratic process there will be those who are not satisfied with the result. The struggle is to continue to act together and move toward a better solution.

  14. No, the analogy is correct. Maryland has its own primary and you can mail in your ballot.

    California has a state-funded primary and Maryland pays for its own. California grew their Green Party by organizing: I personally know some people who were in the Green Party in the beginning and registered people.

    California organized to get their Party to the size that it is. That is why they have so many elected Green officials and why they have so many chapters and why they have over 40% of the Greens nationwide. California worked their tails off to grow that Party.

    Maybe Maryland and other states should do the same.

  15. Nader should have gotten the Green nomination for the past two elections. He didn’t try in 2008 because there is no democracy within this party, which supposedly is all about “democracy”.

  16. “If 50-60% of the Greens are in California, then we should assume that at least 50% of Cynthia McKinney’s votes on Nov. 4 came from California, right”

    That is NOT right, look at Chuck Giese’s article.

  17. OhMy –

    If every state had the same rules for what qualifies a party for ballot access and/or a state-funded primary, you’d be right. In that case, whether a state wins the right to have the state fund a primary election would be entirely based on their own organizing efforts. But since each state has (wildly) different rules, you just can’t compare different states by that measure.

  18. No other nationally-organized minor party in U.S. history has ever had as much trouble with this issue, as the Green Party seems to have had. No other nationally-organized minor party, in existence today or in the past, ever used registration data for internal party governance. Try to imagine a situation in which no state had registration by party. Whatever ideas spring forth in this mental exercise, grab those ideas and think about applying them.

  19. But there ARE RULES for Greens to qualify as a principle party in each state.

    I know Green who used to live in Maryland and there is lots of talk and not much in the way of organizing in Maryland, except a local in Baltimore City that no longer exists because its members got right disgusted with the inertia and bickering of the rest of the state Party.

    To become a principal party in Maryland, according to the Maryland Election website, the minor party has to have 1% of all registered voters, looks to be about 30,000 according to the site’s numbers. Maryland has about 8,000.

    Sorry, but when anti-one person one vote Greens lament the rules of each state, I don’t buy it.

  20. “But there ARE RULES for Greens to qualify as a principle party in each state.”

    No there are not. Many states do not allow registration by party.

  21. And now I have to end this. I never got into this discussion to start a pissing match, but that’s where it is. I only wanted to present a few facts about Maryland ballot access law to illustrate why the idea of “one Green, one vote” is impossible when many states don’t let Greens vote in primaries. But since I now have to defend my whole state party, here are a few more facts:

    Your friend has no idea what is going on in Maryland. If they were part of that Baltimore local that no longer exists, I know everyone you might be talking about. They left the party because they do not like working with others. They did not contribute to the effort when the actual, existing Baltimore Green Party became the second party in the city by winning more combined votes in the last city election than the Republican Party. They are not there now and neither are you. I don’t know where you live I wouldn’t presume to insult the level of activism in your local party based on the opinion of one “friend”. So knock it off.

    And as for the delegate apportionment debate, there is one fact that has never been addressed by the “one Green, one vote” faction, which is that there cannot be a single measure used to apportion delegates, national committee votes, or whatever when that measure does not apply to every state. How can you measure states based on something (registration, primaries, candidates, whatever) that some states can’t legally have? All the rest of this argument is irrelevant unless that question is addressed.

    In response to Richard: I support the current GPUS apportionment scheme and think it is a good (perhaps imperfect, but not worth getting rid) attempt to deal with the problem. It uses a combination of measures (registration numbers, primary turnout, candidates, vote totals, demonstratable party support, etc) and ensures a baseline number of delegates to ensure representation where states cannot meet any of these measures due to terrible ballot access laws.

    And now I’m done.

  22. I think the issue is not whether we as individuals support the delegate apportionment plan – I personally have nothing against it – but whether it is serving the Green Party well. Since the system we use has stirred up so much internal bad feeling and presumably will continue to do so, the answer seems to be No, it hasn’t served us well.
    If we put more weight on Green registration, that would be unfair to states where it is difficult or impossible to register Green.
    If we put more weight on Green votes, that would be unfair to states where it is difficult or impossible to put Green candidates on the ballot.
    Therefore, I recommend that you all check out Ron Hardy’s national membership proposal http://www.greenpartywatch.org/2008/12/08/a-green-party-national-membership-proposal/#comment-3300 and keep in mind that we’re all in this together, and we can’t stop a war while we’re fighting each other.

  23. It ain’t a pissing match, it’s an integral question on the structure of the national party. It’s not impossible, it’s being done, perhaps not to the satisfaction of many but isn’t that the description of fair, when nobody is completly satisfied. And it ain’t gonna end on your say so as the apportionment question is addressed every 4 years in the year before the nominating convention.

  24. The apportionment debate might not be a pissing contest, but the “lots of talk and not much in the way of organizing” is. If people want to continue to debate apportionment without insults, that’s fine with me.

    GF and Lou, I believe the current apportionment scheme works well and would not be an issue EXCEPT that every four years a number of Nader supporters gets upset that Nader wins a big primary in California, which doesn’t instantly win him the national Green nomination, as their math says it should. (Of course, there are a number of Nader supporters who don’t contribute to this argument and a number of non-Nader supporters who have different concerns with the apportionment scheme. I’m not going to deny that.) But, I think there is a tendency for these debates to come up during Presidential elections when Nader inserts himself (or is inserted by his supporters) into the Green nomination. I believe that it will not be such an issue in 2012 because Nader is probably done running for President.

    As for the national membership plan, I dunno. It seems more fair than using the various measures state governments have set up, since they vary so widely. At the same time I can’t help but think that a state that has all the benefits of state recognition (like a list of members maintained by the board of elections that can be bought) would be in a much greater position to gain a higher number of card-carrying members, and thus a higher number of delegates in the GNC. Are there ways to decrease this potential disparity?

  25. For example, if anyone wanted an example:

    Maryland and Tennessee have a roughly equivalent population (5.6 million to 6.1 million). MD’s rules for establishing a political party are much gentler than TN’s rules. So MD has a space on the state voter registration application and whenever someone registers to vote, they can check Green. The state board of elections counts those members and keeps a list, which the MGP can buy for a reasonable price. None of this happens in TN because of a number of political and historical circumstances that make it almost five times as hard to establish a political party in TN than in MD. So we know that MD has approximately 8,500 registered Greens, because the state has done the work of finding them and keeping their records. I don’t know how many Greens the party in TN has managed to find by advertising themself, keeping their own list, getting e-mails from national, etc. I’d bet it is no more than 1,000.

    So once the national membership plan is instituted, MD would buy its membership list from the state and ask everyone on the list to become a card-carrying Green, the number of whom do so determining MD’s representation on the GNC. TN would do so using their own self-compiled list. If TN does any awesome job and manages to get everyone on their list to sign up, they would have 1,000 members recognized for purposes of GNC apportionment. If Maryland does a terrible job and only convinces 1/4th of its members to sign up, it still gets twice the recognition on the GNC as TN.

    That doesn’t seem right to me, and I don’t know if there is a way to make the process fair for states that don’t have the benefits certain states do.

  26. I doubt Nader is done running for president. After seeing the catastrophic results of Nader-confusion in the Green Party this year, we need to have a hard and fast rule before 2012, only declared nominees for the Green nomination can be on the primary ballot. Nothing against Nader – if he wants the Green nomination, I encourage him to seek it – but that cannot be allowed to happen again.

    “At the same time I can’t help but think that a state that has all the benefits of state recognition (like a list of members maintained by the board of elections that can be bought) would be in a much greater position to gain a higher number of card-carrying members, and thus a higher number of delegates in the GNC. Are there ways to decrease this potential disparity?”

    Start organizing our hearts out in all 50 states, DC, and various colonies. When GPUS has money and a list of active members, it will be in a far better position to get ballot status in states where currently there is none.

  27. I agree that we should be working for universal ballot access and a party in all 50 states. Unfortunately, that doesn’t solve the problem I laid out in the example above. Because some states do not allow registration by party (for any party) the GP could never use state-compiled member lists that many states have access to now.

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