Like the more famous candidates President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Tiffany Briscoe’s presidential campaign has had its ups and downs.
The 35-year-old Annapolis woman won the Boston Tea Party’s presidential nomination in December, but was dropped in March over allegations she had misrepresented her credentials; she says she left the party. She fell in love and now lives with her vice presidential candidate. All the while, she has continued her campaign as a write-in candidate and is one of 15 people, including Obama and Romney, listed on the Maryland State Board of Elections website as presidential candidates.
Festooned with large earrings resembling drink coasters, Briscoe said in a recent interview that her goal is to represent all people from all parties. She is motivated by, and active in, an online political movement called USA Parliament.
“I want the best for the country,” Briscoe said. “I am an activist for the poor, too.”
If elected, Briscoe said, she would accept only a portion of the president’s salary, would work to make sure the homeless had jobs and would appoint others to serve in roles similar to being co-president to help govern.
This is a campaign she wants to win. So far she’s a write-in candidate in Maryland, Florida and Colorado.
She met James Ogle, her running and living mate, in Boston. Ogle, who has been active in politics with USA Parliament, said he and Briscoe do not agree on every issue, but they both believe in a system called “right choice voting” that would allow citizens to rank their national priorities and would use a mathematical formula to come up with a consensus for the federal budget.
Their shared politics led to romance and the two moved in together this summer, they said.
Briscoe called the decision by the Boston Tea Party a misunderstanding. She has dubbed her political views the Green Tea Rainbow Party. She sees herself as allied with comedienne Roseanne Barr, who is running for president as the Peace and Freedom Party’s candidate.
‘They’re quite ... interesting’
What motivates people to put their name on the ballot when they have absolutely no hope of winning can vary from person to person, said Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College.
For some, it is a form of protest against the establishment candidates, while for others it’s a chance to push an issue or cause they support. And for some it is a chance to be in the spotlight, even in a small way, Eberly said.
“There’s a part of me that as a professor of political science endorses this idea if you’ve got a position and want to be heard and can put yourself on a ballot then you should,” Eberly said. “So if you want to get yourself on the ballot and take on the two-party system in a quixotic effort then you should do it. But also I’ve spent time talking to people running and they’re quite — how should I put this — interesting.”
In Maryland, anyone can run as a write-in candidate, but to have those votes counted, the candidates must submit a notarized form signifying they are seeking election, said Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance for the Maryland State Board of Elections.
The electronic voting machines used by the state list the candidates from the qualifying political parties, any candidates who have obtained enough signatures to be an independent candidate on the ballot, and then write-in candidates, DeMarinis said. To vote for a write-in candidate, voters touch the “write-in” box on the screen, then type in the name of the candidate. The state counts write-in votes only for those who are certified as write-in candidates, he said.
The certification process gives the state a document on record that someone is seeking to be a write-in candidate “so you can’t just be drafted into an office against your will,” he said. “You’ve affirmatively declared you’re for it.”
But write-in candidates often send in more than the required paperwork, DeMarinis said.
“They often send us a lengthy letter,” he said. “A lot of them have positions that they want known or have a grievance with the current state of politics.”
Political parties also must qualify to have their presidential candidate on the ballot by having their gubernatorial candidate receive at least 1 percent of the vote in the prior election or by submitting a petition with 10,000 signatures, DeMarinis said.
So far, the Democratic and Republican nominees will qualify for the ballot, as well as the candidate of Americans Elect, a political organization that allowed people to cast votes online, he said. However, Americans Elect notified the state it would not be fielding a candidate after all.
The Green and Libertarian parties have submitted enough signatures to have their candidates on the ballot, DeMarinis said.
The petition requirement is one of the ways in which the two major political parties create hurdles to keep other parties from challenging them in elections, said Carla Howell, the Libertarian Party’s executive director. The party is on track to be on the ballot in all 50 states.
The party’s presidential nominee, Gary Johnson, was a two-term governor of New Mexico. He unsuccessfully ran for the GOP presidential nomination, but was shut out from all but one debate, Howell said.
“Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are basically the same person with different colored jerseys on,” Howell said.
If she is elected, Briscoe said, she would be inclusive and ask to have both Obama and Romney advise her.
“I’m for unity,” Briscoe said.