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#LetHerSpeak: Libertarian Demands for Open Presidential Debates Trend on Social Media

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Created: 10 August, 2020
Updated: 14 August, 2022
2 min read

Libertarians across the country organized #LetHerSpeak convoys Saturday with vehicles adorned in purple and gold and messages calling on the Commission on Presidential Debates to include Libertarian presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen in the fall presidential debates.

The effort was so widespread - spanning from coast to coast -- that these voters, frustrated by what they call explicit voter suppression, were able to get the campaign to trend on Twitter:

There is public support to open the presidential debates to at least one additional candidate. In 2016, national polling found that 76% of US voters wanted third party candidates like then libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein to be invited onto the debate stage.

Yet, despite such overwhelming support for more voices in presidential debates, it has been 28 years since the last third party candidate was invited to participate in them (Ross Perot in 1992). The reason is largely due to the Commission on Presidential Debates' 15% rule for candidate inclusion.

The bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) instituted a rule in 2000 that requires third party candidates to poll at least at 15% in 5 nationwide polls handpicked by the commission itself. Yet, these polls often exclude viable third party candidates or bury their names so that voters predominately see only the Republican and Democratic nominees.

This is why it is unlikely that Jorgensen will be included in the 2020 debates, regardless of what voters want. This is also why supporter launched the #LetHerSpeak campaign. They wanted to boost her presence in local media coverage, and thus boost her name ID.

"To promote Dr. Jo Jorgensen to get her poll numbers up to get her on the debate stage," said Libertarian activist Ryan Cooper, in an interview with KEPR in Pasco, Washington. "We know it's a rigged system, we know the two parties want to keep us out. We're going to fight like hell to get her on the stage. We're loud, we're proud, we're not going to take any more of the two-party nonsense."

The National Libertarian and Green Parties joined the nonpartisan group Level the Playing Field and its CEO, Peter Ackerman, in a lawsuit challenging the debate commission's rules for candidate inclusion. Despite an initial court ruling that the FEC -- the federal agency tasked with regulating organizations like the debate commission -- acted “arbitrarily, capriciously, and contrary” to law when it ignored administrative complaints against the CPD. the courts have dismissed the lawsuit.

Do you want to see more candidates on the presidential debate stage? Let us know in the comments.

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