JOAN BERNOTT, Federal Election Commission: Mr. Zapple, I want to ask you whether any of the bills that were presented in the 1960s for repeal of Section 315 as regards vice-presidential and presidential and/or any Senate and House debates included a fair formula for determining which significant third-party candidates should be included, and what your own ideas are on that question.
ZAPPLE: I have always found that developing a formula creates more problems than it cures. As a consequence, we tried to write into the legislative history in our reports what the committee meant by a significant third-party candidate, regardless of the amount of votes he got. We expected the networks and the broadcasters to make time available to significant third-party candidates, and we used as an illustration the candidates for the States Rights party and the Progressive party of 1948. Three or four parties that we mentioned got less than 4 percent of the vote. During our hearings we brought up that subject, and we received affirmative responses from the networks and the broadcasters that they would accede to that kind of suggestion.
BERNOTT: By "that kind of suggestion," are you referring to a 4 percent vote share?
ZAPPLE: No. We tried the 4 percent vote standard originally, and we found that only one party up to 1972 had received 4 percent of the vote, and that was the Bull Moose party in 1912. A member of our committee, Senator Strom Thurmond, was a candidate for the States Rights party back in 1948. Rather than set a 1 or 2 percent level, which might increase the base or the number of people who would qualify, we suggested that recognition be given to a candidate who represented a party comparable to the States Rights party in 1948 and Progressive parties in 1924 and 1948, as well as the American Independent party that George Wallace ran on in 1968.
BERNOTT: What is your opinion on whether the 1976 debates conformed with the spirit and intent of the equal time provision of the
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Publication information: Book title: The Past and Future of Presidential Debates. Contributors: Austin Ranney - Editor. Publisher: American Enterprise Institute. Place of publication: Washington, DC. Publication year: 1979. Page number: 70.
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