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All About Voting

Ralph invites his old friend, “The Black Eagle” activist and radio host Joe Madison, to discuss the hunger strike he endured to advocate for the recent voting rights bill and what the Democrats need to do to finally get the job done. Then, Richard Winger, publisher of “Ballot Access News” updates us on the fight to break the stranglehold the two major parties have on our elections by restricting access to a candidate’s ability to get on a ballot. Plus, Ralph answers a listener question.

Joe Madison (aka “The Black Eagle”) is a human and civil rights activist and talk radio host. He hosts The Joe Madison Show on SiriusXM Urban View, and Talkers magazine has named him one of their 100 Most Important Talk Radio Hosts nine times. Mr Madison is also the author of Radio Active: A Memoir of Advocacy in Action, on the Air and in the Streets.

I’ve actually had several Democratic Senators call me and say, “Keep doing your hunger strike” – now this has got to be unheard of–  “Keep doing your hunger strike”. And eventually all but two ended up agreeing to change the filibuster so [voting rights bills] could be passed. I should also say to you, I ended up getting a letter from President Biden thanking me for the hunger strike. I framed this sucker. I got it, and I’m laughing because I think it’s the first time in history that a President of the United States has embraced somebody making a sacrifice.

Joe Madison, host of the Joe Madison Show on SiriusXM Urban View

This is not the Republican Party of yore. Of years ago. Not at all. They are now the party of white supremacists. They are the party of voter suppressionists. In essence, they are Donald Trump’s party.

Joe Madison, host of the Joe Madison Show on SiriusXM Urban View

The Republicans are taunting the Democrats. Saying they don’t have a clue as to what the people in America want. And they’re taunting them. Because they saw what happened in the recent elections: the Republicans would get out the vote in Ohio by using people in the neighborhoods, and the Democrats would bring in outside consultants into Ohio who didn’t know what the neighborhoods were like.

Ralph Nader

Richard Winger is an advocate for more equitable laws allowing access to the ballot for minor parties. He has testified on behalf of these issues in court cases across the country and has been published in journals ranging from the Journal of Election Law to the Fordham Urban Law Review. Since 1985, he has published Ballot Access News, a national monthly newsletter covering developments in ballot access law and third parties in general.

I thought “Well, if a party is organized in the country, why isn’t it on the ballot in every state?” So, then I looked into the ballot access laws and I realized every state writes its own, and they varied hugely, and some of them were extremely unfair.

Richard Winger, founder of Ballot Access News

[In our 2016 lawsuit to get minor party candidates on the ballot in California] we had, in the case, evidence that in the entire history of ballot access no state that requires more than 5000 signatures ever has a “crowded ballot”. Where a “crowded ballot”  is defined the way Justice Harlan defined it– more than eight candidates. Justice Harlan didn’t think that having eight candidates on the ballot for a particular office would confuse anybody. After all, almost every American goes to restaurants. We’ve got a lot more choices than eight for entrees.

Richard Winger, founder of Ballot Access News

Throughout all of US history– every historian agrees with this–  new parties, minor parties, often very weak. introduced new ideas into the system, started people talking about them.

Richard Winger, founder of Ballot Access News

It’s ironic that as voting rights in this country generally has expanded since the 19th century, on the matter of voter choice we’ve gone backwards.

Richard Winger, founder of Ballot Access News

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 419 Transcript (Right click to download)


  1. John Puma says:

    Re: “I think it’s the first time in history that a President (Biden) of the United States has embraced somebody making a sacrifice.”

    Better YOU than he making an effort, much less a sacrifice!

  2. OLIVIA APPLE says:


  3. Jon Ralston says:

    Great show as usual, thank you for having Richard Winger of Ballot Access News on the program to discuss ballot access and thank you to Ralph for pointing out the problems with Top X open primary voting systems where independents and third parties are done in the primary while the Republicans and Democrats compete in the general election. I wish Ralph and Richard would have gotten into the Alaska example more specifically because it is more pernicious. The combining of open primaries coupled with Ranked Choice Voting in the general gives the perception of a more equitable voting system, yet it is a slight of hand and misdirection since open primaries still maintains plurality voting. This way independents and third party candidates get eliminated in the primary and the general election becomes a contest between the factions of the Democratic and Republican parties. It’s a subtle form of control shrouded in voting reform. Anyway, thank you again for at least touching on the subject of Top X open primary voting systems. If possible could you have Nathan Lockwood of Rank the Vote on the program to discuss Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) and the state by state effort to implement RCV. I might add that if there is no voting reform then it doesn’t matter how many candidates qualify for the ballot if they are only going to be labelled a “spoiler” and marginalized spending all of their time defending the legitimacy of their candidacy rather than making their case to the public.