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Ballot Access News

Arizona Independent Candidate Petition Requirements are Much Higher This Year Than in the Past (May 2, 2012, 05:23 PM)

The number of signatures needed for an independent candidate in Arizona will be 31,111 valid signatures this year, for statewide office. The formula is 3% of the number of active registered voters who are not members of a qualified party. However, any registered voter may sign an independent candidate’s petition.

The Arizona law is irrational, because independents for statewide office now need substantially more signatures than a newly-qualifying party needs. Newly-qualifying parties this year need 23,041 valid signatures. The independent requirement is now 35% higher than the requirement for parties.

However, independent candidates in Arizona this year can easily get on the November ballot, without any petition at all, for any partisan office other than President, if they are willing to register as members of Americans Elect. Anyone can be a write-in candidate in the Americans Elect primary on August 28, for any partisan office (other than President), if that individual registers as a member of the party, and in June files a write-in declaration of candidacy in that party’s primary. If only one person does this, he or she can receive the nomination with only a single write-in vote.

John Wolfe, Jr., to Sue Louisiana Democratic Party This Week if He is Not Awarded 3 Delegates (May 2, 2012, 02:20 PM)

John Wolfe, Jr., polled over 15% of the vote in the March 24, 2012 Louisiana Democratic presidential primary in three congressional districts. Under state law and under state party rules, that should entitle him to name 3 delegates to the Democratic national convention in September. However, so far, the state Democratic Party has not let him designate any delegates. According to this story, he will file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on May 4, unless the state party changes it mind.

Wolfe is an attorney. The state party has never claimed that he isn’t a bona fide Democrat. Thanks to Randall Hayes for the link.

California Green Congressional Candidate Excluded from Campus Debate Because He is Judged Unlikely to Place in the Top Two (May 2, 2012, 01:28 PM)

On April 30, the California State University at Northridge (in Los Angeles) Student Association sponsored a debate for candidates running for U.S. House in the 30th district. This is one of the best-known U.S. House races in California this year, because it pits two Democratic incumbent Congressmen against each other, Howard Berman and Brad Sherman. Redistricting forced them to run against each other.

Under the California top-two system, all seven candidates in this race will appear on the June 5 primary ballot. There are three Democrats, three Republicans, and one Green, Michael W. Powelson, a former history professor at this very school and also at LA Valley College. Powelson has a PhD from Columbia University and is endorsed by the Green Party.

The debate organizers determined that they would only invite candidates whom they expected had a chance to place first or second, so they invited the two incumbent Congressmen, and two Republicans. The debate organizers explain their reasoning here. They felt 7 candidates on the stage is too many.

This incident shows that the top-two system cannot give minor party candidates a realistic chance to appear in candidate debates. If the only candidates in the primary season who will be invited to debate are those perceived to be the front-runners, that becomes self-fulfilling. Minor party candidates won’t qualify for the November ballot, nor can they be write-in candidates in November, so they never get a chance for full exposure.

South Carolina Supreme Court Hears Ballot Access Case (May 2, 2012, 12:36 PM)

On May 1, the South Carolina Supreme Court heard Anderson v South Carolina Election Commission. Over 100 candidates running in Democratic and Republican primaries on June 12 were put on the ballot even though they didn’t file a Statement of Economic Interests by the deadline. A voter then sued the Commission, arguing those candidates should be kept off the ballot. A decision is expected this week. See this story.

Alabama Secretary of State and Others Oppose Some Provisions in Ballot Access Bill (May 2, 2012, 12:12 PM)

On May 2, the Alabama House Constitution, Campaigns & Elections Committee held a hearing on SB 15, the bill that eases the number of signatures for independent candidates (for office other than President) and newly-qualifying parties. The bill also moves the petition deadline for newly-qualifying parties from March to May.

The Alabama Secetary of State’s office sent a representative to oppose the part of the bill that moves the petition deadline for newly-qualifying parties from March to May. Also, the Probate Judges Association sent a representative to oppose the part of the bill that cuts the number of signatures for independent candidates. Probate Judges are elected in Alabama on a partisan basis, and presumably all of them are major party members, and they dislike increased competition. However, the bill does not lower the number of signatures for independent candidates for county office, just federal and state office.

The Committee decided to re-assign the bill to a different House Committee.

Alabama Independent Candidate Petition Invalidated, Even Though Elections Officials Don?t Really Know How Many Signatures are Required (May 2, 2012, 10:56 AM)

Michael Noe has been kept off the Alabama ballot as an independent candidate for Madison County Commission, because elections officials say he doesn’t have enough valid signatures on his petition. See this story. The story also reveals that election officials are unable to know exactly how many signatures are required. The law says he needs 3% of the votes cast within the district for Governor in 2010. However, because redistricting has occurred since 2010, no one knows exactly how many votes were cast in the territory contained in the new district. The new district boundaries split precincts.

So, election officials simply divided the number of votes cast for Governor in 2010 in the entire county by the number of County Commission districts, and just assume Noe’s district had an “average” number of votes cast in 2010.

Sixth Circuit Sets Hearing Date in Ohio Ballot Access Case (May 2, 2012, 10:21 AM)

On July 24, the Sixth Circuit will hear Libertarian Party of Ohio v Husted, the case in which the Libertarian Party had won injunctive relief against Ohio’s February 2012 petition deadline for newly-qualifying parties.

The Secretary of State did not appeal, but the Ohio legislature then intervened in the case so that it could appeal. The hearing will be at 1:30 p.m. in Cincinnati. The appeal is peculiar, because after the Ohio Libertarian Party won injunctive relief against the February 2012 deadline, the deadline reverted back to November 2011. One wonders why the legislature is bothering to appeal an injunction when the law at issue doesn’t even exist any longer.

In 2006 the Sixth Circuit had ruled that a deadline of November of the year before the election is unconstitutional. The current Ohio law still has that deadline.

Texas Supreme Court Asks for Response in El Paso Recall Lawsuit (May 2, 2012, 10:12 AM)

On April 27, the Texas Supreme Court asked for a response from El Paso Mayor John F. Cook, in the case known as Tom Brown Ministries v Cook, 12-0224. The issue is whether a recall petition should be invalidated, even though it had enough valid signatures, because the church that helped collect the signatures is incorporated. The State Appeals Court had invalidated the petition based on the church’s status as a corporation. The Mayor’s response is due May 29.

The issues in this case are closely related to the same issues from 2010, when the Green Party petition was invalidated by a lower Texas state court because it was believed that the money donated to the party for its petition drive originated from a corporation. The Texas Supreme Court, in the Green Party case, put the party back on the ballot. No further proceedings were held in that case because, after the election was over, the Texas Democratic Party, which had originally filed the challenge to the Green Party petition, did not pursue the case.

Hearing Date Set for Alabama Ballot Access Case (May 2, 2012, 09:42 AM)

On May 24, U.S. District Court Judge William K. Watkins will hold a hearing in Stein v Chapman, the ballot access case that challenge’s Alabama’s March petition deadline for newly-qualifying parties to get on the ballot. The hearing is at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 2-E in Montgomery’s federal courthouse.

Colorado County Clerk and Colorado Secretary of State Disagree on Whether to Print Primary Ballots When Party Has no Contests (May 1, 2012, 10:21 PM)

The Colorado primary is June 26. El Paso County election officials decided not to print up any primary ballots for the Democratic Party or the American Constitution Party, because those two parties have no primary contests within the boundaries of the county. But the Colorado Secretary of State believes each county must print up primary ballots for all three parties that are entitled to nominate by primary. See this story. The Secretary of State apparently will sue the county to get a judicial decision on this issue.

El Paso County is a populous county that contains Colorado Springs.

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