Dennis Andrew Ball at Tallahassee’s Vietnam Memorial across the street from the Historic State Capitol.

By Tom Flanigan WFSU

A new national poll shows 3 in 10 voters don’t want either Joe Biden or Donald Trump to be president. That would seem to open up the field for third-party candidates. But that’s easier said than done. Especially in Florida.

The third-party presidential candidate now getting the most national attention is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. But he’s by no means the only hopeful not connected to either the Democratic or Republican parties. Another candidate vying for the nation’s top job is Dennis Andrew Ball.

“I am a man of God. And I believe God wants me to do this every day. He says, ‘Go the distance. Do what you need to do to get your name out there. Do what you need to do to get the party’s name out there. Why? Because if you’re not fighting for your family, who are you working for?'”

Ball calls his party the American Party of America. Its platform includes lower taxes and smaller government. Especially the part of government he said that specializes in separating children from their parents and locking up seniors in nursing homes.

“Once the courts get ahold of you, whether it’s the criminal court or civil court, or even the probate or family court, your life will be turned upside down. Separated from your money and property and possibly even your own children.”

But Ball can’t hope to attract voters unless he can get on the ballot. He said that’s especially hard in Florida.

“Florida is a very partisan state! You have Democrats and Republicans; anybody who’s going to be anybody in this state has got to get registered with the secretary of state.”

Leon County Elections Supervisor Mark Earley admits that registration process is a heavy lift.

“By noon of July 15, 2024, you have to submit at least 145,040 signed petitions to the supervisors of elections across the state and submit them to the supervisor in the district where those voters reside. And you would also, by August 24th, have to submit 30 electors of your minor party who are registered voters in Florida to the department of state to be your electoral college votes.”

Political Scientist Lonna Atkeson, director of the LeRoy Collins Institute at Florida State University, thinks candidate Ball may be onto something in thinking the whole process is tilted in favor of the major parties.

“Both Democrats and Republicans are probably favorable towards rules that limit access. Neither party wants a third candidate to coopt the few votes that might make the difference in an election outcome.”

But Supervisor Earley feels a fairly high qualification bar is necessary to separate serious candidates from those who just want to see their name on the ballot. And he noted the major party candidates face some pretty stiff qualifiers of their own.

“Regular party affiliation candidates have to go through a massive primary system, unless you’re already the incumbent, in which case you’ve already had to go through the whole primary process for president with all the Super Tuesdays and that kind of thing. So the (major) party candidates have to go through probably bigger hurdles than just collecting 145,000 names to get on the ballot.”

While he was in Tallahassee, Candidate Ball sat down to strategize with his Florida Campaign Manager Pamela Suleman.

While some third-party candidates do make the ballot, no third-party presidential candidates have ever come anywhere near the White House. The closest was Teddy Roosevelt who in 1912 bested the Republican candidate and took about 27 percent of the vote with his Bull Moose Party. Political Scientist Lonna Atkeson said America’s political system just isn’t set up for that kind of competition.

“Third and fourth parties really work really well in parliamentary systems because of that proportional vote. Whatever proportion of the vote you get overall you get the same number of seats. But here it’s district based. So winner-take-all; the winner of the district gets all the representation.”

Which is small consolation for folks like Dennis Andrew Ball.

“It’s not like magic to wave a wand to get your name on a ballot or even registered with the State of Florida. They all know this! So, it makes it doubly hard when you’re an independent to get your name out there in the political arena!”

The last we heard, Ball had filed his paperwork with the secretary of state’s office. And then he filed a lawsuit at the Federal Courthouse down the street, objecting to Florida’s ballot qualification requirements.

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