As Hillary Trump and Donald Trump prepare for the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday night, Green Party nominee Jill Stein has once again called for the debates to be opened to independent and third-party candidates. Both Stein and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson have been excluded from the first two debates and will be absent again in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
Both will be included on enough state ballots to give them a mathematical chance of coming out on top in the Nov. 8 election. However, neither meets the 15 percent polling average mandated by The Commission on Presidential Debates, with Johnson currently polling at 8 percent while Stein is at 3 percent.
On the morning of the final debate, Stein again called for that criteria to be changed, using the hashtag BreakTheBlackout. “Independents now outnumber Democrats and Republicans – yet there hasn’t been an independent in the debates in 24 years,” she tweeted.
“All four parties that have done the difficult work of getting on enough ballots to win should be in the debates.”
Johnson, meanwhile, slammed the Commission last month for being "made up of Republicans and Democrats that just have no intention whatsoever in seeing anyone other than a Republican or Democrat on the debate stage," on ABC News' "This Week."
Ross Perot was the last non-Democratic or Republican nominee to appear on the debate stage. The independent went up against Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush when there was no polling threshold. Perot went on to claim 18.91 percent of the popular vote on Election Day, and received no electoral votes.
The current criteria, which came into place in 2000, has been harshly criticized by both Stein and Johnson as being part of a rigged process designed to exclude insurgent candidates. The pair even brought a lawsuit against it, alleging violations of antitrust law and the First Amendment. However, that was dismissed by a judge in August.
Still, Stein, along with Johnson, continues to run a petition on her campaign website calling for open debates, which currently has close to 118,000 signatures. And, while she won’t be on the stage in Las Vegas, Stein will be answering the questions put forward by Fox News’ moderator Chris Wallace via Facebook Live.