The Keel: A large Group of Centrist Voters

Disenfranchised by the Two-Party System

Wells vs. Kiesling 1992

Ross Perot ran as and Independent candidate for President in 1992. In Oregon, he received more than 20% of the vote.

     I then filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court asserting that Oregon Election Laws violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In the pleading, I specifically asserted a U.S. Supreme Court doctrine called "The Least Drastic Means". If a state adopts more than one standard to qualify candidates for the election ballot - only the least drastic is contitutional. The more restrictive standard must be struck down.

    I got started as a Voter Advocate in 1992. Two career politicians were competing for a U.S. Senate seat from Oregon. For voters, it was simply a choice between the lesser of two evils. I decided to run for the U.S. Senate as an Independent candidate. Only 31 years old, with no experience at all - I didn't expect to win, but voters needed an alternative on the ballot - even if it was just a protest.  

    I was shocked to learn that in Oregon, an Independent candidate for the U.S. Senate needed to collect over 36,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. In contrast, Democrats and Republicans were required to collect only 1000 signatures or pay $100. Nobody collected the 1000 signatures - everyone paid the $100 instead. No wonder there weren't any viable alternatives on the ballot.

    I stood outside the Oregon Convention Center with a sandwich board, set up a booth at the shopping mall, and went door to door collecting signatures. Not 36,051, just 1000 - the maximum number of signatures required of a Republican or Democrat running for the same office. This was obviously a "Seperate but Equal" system. One standard for Democrats and Republicans - with seperate, more restrictive standards for everyone else.

     The judge dismissed the case without even holding a hearing. He wrote an impressive summary in his final opinion, but there is no mention of the "Least Drastic Means" doctrine. The judge summarized and ruled on a case - but not the case that was presented. Unfortunately, partisan politics wasn't just crippling congress and the state legislatures, it had contaminated our federal and state courts as well.

     I wasn't terribly surprised to lose the court case. It took blacks 100 years to defeat the "Seperate but Equal" doctrine - and they had to pack the Supreme Court to do it. What I was surprised by, was the extremely partisan bias of the press and other "non-partisan" organizations. The voters I talked to were very receptive to the idea of fair and open elections. Nonetheless, not one media outlet covered the story about unfair election laws.

Wells v.
Kiesling 1992 Opinion

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Wells v.
Kiesling 1992 Complaint

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Libertarian Party of Oregon v.
Roberts 1988

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Socialist Workers Party v. Illinois Board of Elections 1978

White Paper

Bob Packwood was the Republican Senator from Oregon running for re-election in 1992. He won re-election by a narrow margin, but was forced to resign shortly afterward when it was disclosed that he had been molesting woman on a regular basis for years.

     It has been almost 25 years now and not much has changed. My all time favorite is the Willamette Week editorial endorsement of my opponent Bill Bradbury in 2004. Shown Below.

"He faces only token competition in the primary. His opponent, Paul Damian Wells, is a Newberg tech worker and perennial applicant for state office. Wells is a one-issue candidate who runs only as a way of highlighting his personal belief that party primaries should be abolished; he sought the same office in 2000 as a Republican. We expect we haven't seen the last of him, though we can always hope."

WW Editorial Staff May 4, 2004