Let’s do that quick fact check: the U.S. Constitution actually does not feature the phrase “All elections shall be free and equal” in Article 1 Section 3 or anywhere else in its text. “All elections shall be free and equal” isn’t in the Declaration of Independence or U.S. Code either.
So where can the phrase “all elections shall be free and equal” be found, if not in the United States Constitution or other foundational documents?
The Arizona Constitution, Article 2 Section 21
The Delaware Constitution, Article 1 Section 3
The Florida Constitution, Article 1 Section 4
The Illinois Constitution, Article 3 Section 3
The Indiana Constitution, Article 2 Section 1
The Massachusetts Constitution, Article 9 (in convoluted language: “All elections ought to be free; and all the inhabitants of this commonwealth, having such qualifications as they shall establish by their frame of government, have an equal right to elect officers, and to be elected, for public employments.”)
The Oklahoma Constitution, Article 3 Section 5
The Oregon Constitution, Article 2 Section 1
The Pennsylvania Constitution, Article 1 Section 5
The South Dakota Constitution, Article 7 Section 1
The Tennessee Constitution, Article 1 Section 5
The Texas Constitution, Article 3
The Washington State Constitution, Article 1 Section 19
The Wyoming Constitution, Article 1 Section 27
[Can you find another state constitution that pledges "free and equal" elections? Let me know in the comments section below!]
These state constitutions matter because the states, through boards of election or parallel bodies, set the standards by which elections are run. No election is “free and equal” if candidates are kept off the ballot through onerous ballot access laws. And while the conduct of the news media and Commission on Presidential Debates is not restricted by state constitutions, their tendency to ignore third, fourth, fifth and sixth-party candidates like Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and Justice Party/Americans Elect aspirant Rocky Anderson violates the spirit of the idea of “free and equal” elections in which the voter is informed and the voter decides.
On October 23 at 9 pm Eastern Time, the Free and Equal Elections Foundation is holding a presidential debate to which it has invited the top 6 presidential contenders: Rocky Anderson, Virgil Goode, Gary Johnson, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Jill Stein. Larry King will moderate. Will Barack Obama and Mitt Romney accept the invitation? That remains to be seen. But you are invited as well — day by day more media outlets are committing to broadcast the debate. You can watch it streaming live for free at Ora TV.