Representation in Crisis: The Constitution, Interest Groups, and Political Parties

By David K. Ryden | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
Parties and State Regulation of Access to Elections: Association without Organization

The previous chapter revealed a judicial lack of understanding of political parties as integral structures of representative politics. When faced with a choice between uncurbed individual participation and a party-centered approach, the Court invariably opts for the first. When it intuits the need for collective dimensions, it mollifies those needs with neopluralist strategies to the neglect or exclusion of parties. Party structures are critical to easing the inherent tensions in the theory of representation. The Court, however, has failed to carve out a place in its constitutional theory of representation for parties as institutional bridges to the enhancement of individual and group influence.

In this chapter, we examine the rights of parties in relation to the propriety of state action to regulate elections. In particular, two categories of state laws especially impact party organizations; those defining the rights of voters to participate in primary and general elections, and ballot access guidelines determining who can run for office. Once again, the Court's attitudes in these areas reflect a legal shunting of parties as institutional channels for individuals and groups of voters, and as organizational representative linkages within government. The result is the obfuscation of fair and effective representation.

As custodians of the electoral process, states have the power to regulate voters' access to the polls, the access of third party or

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