The Sixth Circuit will hear Libertarian Party of Ohio v Husted, 14-3230, on Tuesday, April 22, at 4:30 p.m., in Cincinnati. This is the case over whether the Libertarian candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor should be on the party’s primary ballot. The court has reserved 30 minutes for this case.
The April 17 Montgomery Advertiser has this editorial, criticizing the legislature for again failing to pass any ballot access reform. Alabama will probably be one of only three states with no statewide minor party or independent candidates on the ballot in November. The others are likely to be California (due to the top-two system) and New Mexico (due to the requirement that even a qualified minor party must submit a substantial petition for all of its non-presidential nominees).
Fortunately, there are two strong ballot access cases pending against Alabama ballot access laws for minor parties and independent candidates, Stein v Bennett, and Hall v Bennett.
District of Columbia Republican Party Threatens to Sue Any Democrats who run as Independents This Year
The District of Columbia election law provides a mechanism that prevents one party from winning all the seats on the Washington, D.C., city council. Each election, there are two open at-large seats on the city council, but no party can run more than a single nominee. Therefore, by default, the Democratic Party can’t win all the seats, and there is always an opportunity for an independent or a nominee of some other party to win one seat each election year.
However, the intent of the law is evaded when Democrats change their affiliation to “independent.” Several sitting Democrats on the City Council say they are thinking of switching to independent status to run for the at-large seat. Although party primaries are over (they were held April 1, earlier than the primaries of any states other than Illinois and Texas), independent candidate petitions are not due until August 6. According to this story, the Republican Party is threatening to sue anyone who is now a Democrat, who switched to independent status and files for one of the at-large seats later this year.
On April 17, Public Policy Polling released a gubernatorial poll for Florida. It shows Democrat Charlie Crist at 46%, Republican incumbent Rick Scott at 41%, “other” 7%, undecided 6%. The only announced minor party candidate expected to be on the November ballot is Libertarian Adrian Wyllie, although there will be independent candidates as well.
Here is a link to the poll. It shows that 9% of Republicans, but only 3% of Democrats, favor “other.” Thanks to PoliticalWire for the link.
South Carolina Libertarian Party Asks State Supreme Court to Clarify that it can Continue to Nominate by Convention
Before 2013, the South Carolina election law said that a party cannot switch from nominating by primary, to nominating by convention, unless three-fourths of the delegates to its state convention approve the idea. In 2013, the legislature made it even more difficult for a party that nominates by primary to switch to conventions. It amended the law to say that not only must a party get three-fourths of all the delegates to its state convention to approve the change, but it must also then put the question to the voters on its next primary ballot.
If one reads the new law literally, it seems to say that no party can nominate by convention unless it first has a primary in which a majority of voters at its primary approve the idea that the party should nominate by convention in the following election.
On April 14, the Libertarian Party asked the State Supreme Court to interpret the new law. The case is South Carolina Libertarian Party v South Carolina State Election Commission. The State Supreme Court need not hear the case unless it wishes to. Presumably, if the Court refuses to hear the case, the Libertarian Party will be more secure. The party worries that someone in the near future might challenge all the party’s convention nominees on the grounds that the party doesn’t have the right to nominate by convention, because it never had a primary in which it asked its primary voters for permission to nominate by convention at the next election.
The 2013 bill, SB 2, now known as Act 61, also said that the bill would not take effect until it was approved by the U.S. Justice Department, because at the time all South Carolina election law changes had to be approved by the U.S. Justice Department. But the Justice Department never precleared SB 2, because a few weeks after the bill was signed, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Shelby County, Alabama v Holder, saying the preclearance formula is flawed. So the state takes the position that even though the bill says it won’t go into effect unless it it precleared, that that part of the bill is null and void. The Libertarian Party lawsuit asks the State Supreme Court to rule on that problem as well. If the Court accepts the case, the Libertarian Party will have performed a service to all of the state’s political parties and all of its voters, just to get this matter settled.
On April 16, some voters who do not have any government photo-ID filed a lawsuit against an Arkansas law which requires such ID in order for them to vote at the polls. See this story. The lawsuit is based on the Arkansas State Constitution. The lawsuit is Kohls v Martin, in Circuit Court in Pulaski County. Here is the Complaint.