|This issue was originally printed on white paper.|
On March 22, the U.S. Justice Department ruled that Alabama may implement HB 66. HB 66 was passed last year and tripled the number of signatures needed for new parties and non-presidential independent candidates, from 1% of the last vote cast, to 3%. It also moved the deadline for those petitions from early September to early July.
The Justice Department decision was a shock, since on October 31, 1996, the Department had told Alabama that it would not approve HB 66 unless the state supplied this information: (1) an explanation of the motives for the increase; (2) a description of what was said in the legislature about the change; (3) the race of all third party and independent candidates who appeared on the ballot in the last ten years; (4) whether the change would disproportionately affect black voters.
Alabama officials considered it so difficult to answer these questions, they postponed a response until February 9, and even then they didn't answer question (3). The Secretary of State's legal advisor stated that everyone in the office was surprised when the Justice Department approved the bill.
Severely disadvantaged are the U.S. Taxpayers and Reform Parties, which had begun petitioning. The Natural Law Party turned in its petition before the Justice Department action, containing about 14,500 signatures. If the Secretary of State determines that at least 12,020 are valid, the party will be on the ballot; if it needs more signatures, the fear is that the state will claim that now it needs 36,060.
There are several court decisions which say that it violates due process for the number of signatures to be increased, during the election year. One of them, Hudler v Austin, from Michigan in 1976, was affirmed summarily by the U.S. Supreme Court, 430 US 924 (1977).
Also, in 1982, when Alabama increased the number of signatures for new party ballot access from no petition, to a 1% petition, the U.S. Justice Department told the state on July 19, 1982 that the new law couldn't be implemented for the 1982 election.
Zita Johnson-Betts, the U.S. Justice Department attorney who approved HB 99 last month, stated on March 27 that she had been unaware of the due process argument, and also that she had been unaware of how the Justice Department had handled the matter back in 1982.
It is possible that either or both the U.S. Taxpayers and Reform Parties will sue to block implementation of HB 66 for the 1996 election. The new number of signatures may also be subject to a court challenge on the basis of the Supreme Court's term limits decision last year. Still another basis for a lawsuit is that since Alabama only requires 5,000 signatures for independent presidential candidates, there is no compelling need for it to require 36,020 for other statewide petitions.
HB 845 passed the Florida House on March 12, 116-0. It rewrites the election laws. It lets unqualified political parties circulate their presidential petition, before those parties have chosen a presidential candidate. Also, it appears to give a party which circulates a petition for president, the right to automatically have a few candidates for congress and the legislature (without further petitioning), if the presidential petition (which must be signed by 1% of the number of registered voters) is circulated in the right geographical areas.
The March 6 B.A.N. was in error when it said HB 845 increases the fee for checking petitions. No such provision is in the bill.
SB 330, which greatly improves ballot access for third party & independent candidates, passed the State Senate on March 19 by a vote of 31-15. On March 29 it passed the House Commerce and Government Committee by 14-7.
If it passes the House and is signed by Governor Parris Glendenning, Maryland statewide petitions will drop from 3% of the number of registered voters (now over 72,000) to a flat 20,000 signatures; and district, county and city petitions will drop from 3%, to 1%, of the number of registered voters.
The New Hampshire Senate passed HB 1161 on March 28, and it awaits action by the Governor. It creates a new procedure, by which a group can petition to become a qualified party. The petition itself doesn't name any candidates. It is due in early August, and if the signatures are valid, the group can then nominate for all partisan office in the state by convention, certifying their names in September. It doesn't take effect until next year. Signatures equal to 3% of the last vote cast are needed. If it were in effect this year, 9,584 signatures would be needed.
On March 21, various Maine town clerks signed a stipulation that they should have credited the Reform Party with at least 525 more signatures. Since the party had only been 515 signatures short, there is no longer any basis to keep it off the ballot.
G. William Diamond, Secretary of State of Maine, has asked the legislature to quickly enact LR 3199, giving him the authority to declare the party qualified. The bill is likely to pass and be signed into law soon.
On March 29, federal judge William Wilson, a Clinton appointee, dismissed the Reform Party's lawsuit, with the incredible claim that a federal court has no jurisdiction to hear a claim that a state erroneously disqualified petition signatures. Citizens to Establish A Reform Party in Arkansas v Priest, no. 96-cv-185.
Judge Wilson is the same judge who ruled last year that the Independent Party (a party which became qualified in November 1992 because its nominee, Ross Perot, polled over 3% of the vote), is not qualified for the 1996 election.
There are many precedents for federal courts to hear cases involving whether a new political party, or independent candidate, was kept off the ballot by faulty petition-checking procedures. One was Anderson v Poythress, in which a federal court put independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson on the November 1980 Georgia ballot, after the state took two months to tell Anderson that he didn't have enough valid signatures, and then gave him only a week to check the state's work.
The Reform Party hasn't decided yet whether to appeal. It is easy for an independent presidential candidate to get on the Arkansas ballot, and partisan labels are permitted for independent presidential candidates, so the party may forego party status. However, many members of the party wanted to run candidates for the legislature, and those hopes will be lost if the lawsuit is not appealed.
On March 25, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear McLaughlin v North Carolina Board of Elections, no. 95-1196. The case, filed by the Libertarian Party, challenged a law removing parties from the ballot unless they poll 10% for president or governor, and another law making it illegal for a voter to register into an unqualified party. The denial was disappointing, since the Committee for Party Renewal, a group of political scientists, had filed an amicus brief supporting the party.
(See also this update.)
On March 20, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled against the Republican Party, by a vote of 3-1, and upheld the blanket primary. O'Callaghan v State, S-6249. (The case is also known as O'Callaghan v Ulmer.) One judge abstained.
Alaska, Louisiana and Washington state use the blanket primary, under which all voters receive the same primary ballot, a ballot containing the names of all the candidates of all the parties, as well as independent candidates. A voter can vote for any candidate listed anywhere on the ballot. The Republican Party sued Alaska in 1990 in federal court to have its own primary, in which only registered Republicans and independents could vote. The federal court considered it so obvious that a political party can decide for itself whether or not to participate in a blanket primary, that the case was settled by stipulation. As a result, in 1990, 1992 and 1994 primaries, the Republican Party had its own semi-closed primary, whereas the other three qualified parties continued to participate in the blanket primary.
But supporters of the blanket primary filed a new lawsuit in state court, to force the Republicans back into the blanket primary, and it is this case which has just been won by blanket primary supporters. Last year, in this same case, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the federal case was not binding, since the state has a duty to defend its own laws in court and the state had instead "given up"; and the Alaska Supreme Court said it would decide the issue, which it has now just done.
However, there was a good reason why the state had earlier "given up" in federal court; it seemed obvious that a party had a right to decide for itself who should vote in its primary, because the U.S. Supreme Court had said so in 1986 in Tashjian v Republican Party of Connecticut.
The recent Alaska Supreme Court decision doesn't really grapple with the contradiction between Tashjian and its own O'Callaghan ruling. The opinion, written by Justice Matthews, doesn't apply strict scrutiny, as it should have.
Furthermore, when Matthews quotes from Tashjian, he only quotes parts of that decision which say nice things about open primaries. Of course, in Tashjian, the Republican Party was in court to force the state to let independent voters into its primary; in O'Callaghan, the Republican Party was in court trying to keep registered Democrats out of its primary. The Alaska Supreme Court chose to say very little about the underlying principle that it is the party that decides these things, not the state.
The Alaska Republican Party will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal, and it is likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear it.
The voters of California, on March 26, voted in favor of an initiative to establish a blanket primary in California. Although the Democratic and Republican Parties of California are likely to challenge the initiative in court, it is the Alaska Republican case which is likely to reach the U.S. Supreme Court first, and to settle the issue for the whole country. The margin in California on Prop. 198 was 59%-41% in favor.
On March 5, the U.S. Taxpayers Party filed a lawsuit against Oklahoma ballot access laws for new parties, using the logic of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1995 congressional term limits decision to argue that Oklahoma has exceeded its authority by requiring a petition signed by 5% of the last vote cast, before a new party may appear on the ballot. National Committee of U.S. Taxpayers Party v Oklahoma Election Board, cv96-343, west. dist.
The lawsuit relies on the fact that Oklahoma only required one-tenth as many signatures, between statehood and 1974, as it does now, yet the ballot wasn't crowded before 1974, so there isn't any procedural necessity for the higher requirement. The lawsuit also relies on the fact that the U.S. Taxpayers Party is one of only 5 national political party committees recognized by the Federal Election Commission (the others are Democratic, Republican, Libertarian and Natural Law).
On March 27, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Morse v Republican Party of Virginia, 94-203. Although no single opinion was signed by more than three justices, five justices said that §5 of the Voting Rights Act applies to conventions and committee meetings of political parties. Dissenting opinions were filed by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas; Chief Justice William Rehnquist co-signed two of the dissenting opinions.
The specific question before the Court was whether the Virginia Republican Party could charge delegates to a nominating convention a fee of $35 or $45, given that the party was not charging this fee back in 1964, and given that the party never asked permission from the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., nor permission from the Attorney General, to charge the fee.
A separate issue in the case, whether the fee violates the 24th amendment (which bans poll taxes in federal elections) was not answered by the Court. Instead, the Court remanded the case back to the lower court, with instructions that the lower court should rule on this issue.
§5, the "pre-clearance" part of the Act, says: "Whenever a State or political subdivision shall enact or seek to administer any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force on November 1, 1964...such State may institute an action in the U.S. District Court, D.C. for a judgment that such qualification, etc., does not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color... Provided, That such qualification, etc., may be enforced without such proceeding if the qualification, etc., has been submitted by the chief legal officer or other appropriate official of such State to the Attorney General and the Attorney General has not interposed an objection within 60 days after such submission...".
§5 applies to parts of the nation in which racial minority voting rates are low. It now applies to Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia, and parts of California, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, and South Dakota (16 states).
The Constitutional justification for the Voting Rights Act is the 15th Amendment, which says "Sec. 1. The right of citizens of the U.S. to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the U.S. or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Sec. 2: The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
Parties & Pre-Clearance
Because neither the 15th Amendment nor §5 of the Voting Rights Act mentions political parties, it is very confusing for anyone to know how to apply §5 to parties. There are two opinions in Morse stating that the Act applies to political parties, one by Justice John Paul Stevens, which was co-signed only by Justice Ruth Ginsburg; and one by Justice Stephen Breyer, co-signed by Justices Sandra O'Connor and David Souter. Neither opinion provides much guidance for a political party in one of the covered states.
Burden on Parties
Consequently, political parties in the 16 covered states are now disadvantaged: they suffer if they change any party rule relating to (1) manner of voting; (2) candidacy requirements and qualifications; (3) who may vote for nominees. If a party rule on any of these subjects is changed, the party must either file a lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia, asking the court for permission to make the change; or it may write a letter to the Attorney General of the U.S., asking for permission to make the change. Because the Attorney General has at least 60 days to make a decision, it now becomes impossible for any party convention to effectuate a change in party rules, affecting the three subjects above, immediately.
Note that permission must be sought for any change relating to those three topics, however minor; the change need not have anything to do with race. Note also that every party in every state chooses candidates for presidential elector by convention or committee meeting, not by primary; so any political party that ever runs a candidate for president, is now subject to pre-clearance in the 16 covered states, if it changes the rules for who can vote, or how voting takes place, at a convention or committee meeting which chooses electors.
Justice Stevens clearly wishes his ruling to only apply to the Democratic and Republican Parties, and not to minor parties, so he tried to write his opinion to justify such a legal distinction. However, he made a serious factual error, which undermines his attempt. He twice stated that only the Democratic and Republican Parties are qualified political parties in Virginia, but the truth is that the Virginia Independent Party is also a fully-qualified party.
Stevens wrote "The imposition by an established political party -- that is to say, a party authorized by state law to determine the method of selecting its candidates for elective office and also authorized to have those candidates' names automatically appear atop the general election ballot -- of a new prerequisite to voting for the party's nominees is subject to §5's preclearance requirement".
This paragraph is Stevens' attempt to reveal which parties must pre-clear party rule changes, and which need not. The part of his paragraph that defines an "established" party as one which is authorized to have its candidates' names appear automatically on the general election ballot, would cover third parties in 38 of the 50 states at this time. Probably Stevens has no idea that this is true.
The other part of Stevens' paragraph suggests that only parties which are entitled to be on the top line of the ballot (note his use of the word "atop" above), are covered. Stevens earlier discusses Virginia law which provides that the qualified parties are entitled to the top lines on the ballot.
But surely no one could seriously argue that a party is exempt just because it doesn't enjoy the top line on voting machines; this is a hopelessly arbitrary distinction, and in many states, no particular party is entitled to the superior position on the ballot.
In a later paragraph, Stevens says "We have no doubt that Congress intended to prohibit the dominant political parties from engaging in discriminatory practices in primary elections as well as conventions", suggesting that only "dominant parties" are covered. Again, this is hopelessly arbitrary. Is the Hawaii Republican Party a "dominant party" (only 7% of Hawaii's legislators are Republicans)?
Stevens adds, "In his separate dissent, Justice Kennedy accuses us of adopting a 'blanket rule' that all political parties must preclear all of their 'internal procedures'. That characterization is quite inaccurate. We hold that political parties are covered under §5 only in certain limited circumstances." But he does not then go on to say what they are.
Finally, at the end of section VII of his opinion, Stevens acknowledges that the question of which parties are subject to §5, and which types of rules changes are covered, may indeed be tough questions. He writes "It is sufficient for us now to respond that we find no constitutional impediment to enforcing §5 in the case before us. We leave consideration of hypothetical concerns for another day."
The Breyer Opinion
The Breyer concurring opinion does not even acknowledge the question of which political parties are covered by §5. Breyer does attempt to delineate which party rule changes are covered; it is his opinion which mentions the three categories of rules changes: (1) manner of voting; (2) candidacy requirements; (3) who may vote for nominees.
Breyer says: "I recognize that some First Amendment concerns raised by the dissents may render these limits yet more restrictive in the case of party conventions...First Amendment questions about the extent to which the Federal Government can regulate the workings of a political party convention are difficult ones..."
Breyer also says, "Those questions are properly left for a case that squarely presents them...This Court has not decided the exact boundaries that the Constitution draws around the subcategory of party rules subject to §5. Further definition should await another day."
An irony is that the law students who brought this case, are not helped very much by this decision. Probably, the Republican Party of Virginia will now ask the Attorney General for permission to charge $35 or $45 fees for people to attend its state nominating conventions. Since the Attorney General is not supposed to weigh the constitutionality of a proposed change, but is merely supposed to decide if the proposed change disadvantages any racial minority, it is likely that the Attorney General will tell the Republican Party that it may impose fees. And the plaintiffs, and others in their situation in the future, will still need to pay the fees (of course, if they prevail on their 24th amendment anti-poll tax claim, they will defeat the fee).
1. California: on March 15, federal judge William Orrick issued his explanation of why the First Amendment does not permit California to make it illegal for political parties to endorse or oppose candidates in non-partisan elections. California Democratic Party v Lungren, no. c94-1703, nor. dist. The state is now expected to appeal.
2. Georgia: there will be a hearing in the 11th circuit on April 10 in Duke v Cleland, 95-8452, over ballot access procedures for Georgia's presidential primary. David Duke and the ACLU filed this case in 1992. Georgia law gives total discretion to the state chairman of a qualified political party and its leaders in the state legislature, over which candidates may be on the party's primary, and Duke was kept off.
3. Michigan: on March 4, the Libertarian Party sued in state court over a new law that only members of the two largest parties may serve as polling place officials. Libt Pty of Michigan v Engler, 96-6782-AA, Washtenaw Circuit Court.
4. Minnesota: the Attorney General is appealing Twin Cities Area New Party v McKenna to the U.S. Supreme Court. This is the case in which the 8th circuit had struck down the ban on "fusion", two parties jointly running the same candidate.
5. Texas: On April 2, the U.S. Taxpayers Party filed a lawsuit in federal court in Austin against the Secretary of State, over the issue of whether Texas law bars the party from nominating Pat Buchanan for president. Nat. Committee of U.S. Taxpayers Party v Garza.
The state claims that since Buchanan ran in the Texas presidential primary, he could not be nominated by the U.S. Taxpayers Party (assuming the party gets on the ballot). However, the law plainly only seems to bar presidential "sore losers" from being independent presidential candidates; it doesn't seem to apply to third parties. The suit argues that even if the law is construed to bar Buchanan, it would be unconstitutional.
The party also argues that the state's announcements, saying that Buchanan would be barred, is hurting its petition effort. Buchanan, of course, hasn't said yet whether he would accept the party's nomination.
6. Virginia: on March 8, the state chair of the state Republican Party, and a Republican legislator, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Republican Party, arguing that the party does not wish to participate in an open primary for U.S. Senate this year, and that the U.S. Constitution protects its desire to limit the primary to voters who declare that they are members of the party (in Virginia, the voter registration form does not ask for party affiliation). Marshall & McSweeney v Meadows, 3:96-cv-208.
This lawsuit may suffer because the Republican Party itself is not listed as a co-plaintiff.
7. West Virginia: Fishbeck v Hechler will be argued in the 4th circuit on May 6. This is the case over the constitutionality of West Virginia's mid-May petition deadline for non-presidential third party and independent candidates.
See this note about tables.
In Michigan, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin, neither the states nor wire services have tallied the Democratic votes yet.
See this note about tables.
|Billy Joe Clegg||297||.20|
|None of above||12,026||8.55|
|(vote for others not tallied yet).|
See this note about tables.
|no pref, & write-ins||307||35.29|
See this note about tables.
NATURAL LAW RESULTS
US TAXPAYERS RESULTS
PEACE & FREEDOM RESULTS
LIBERTY UNION RESULTS
|Mary Cal Hollis||665||80.12|
See this note about tables.
|FULL PARTY||CAND.||LIBT||REFORM||NATL LAW||TAXPAYR||PARTY||CAND.|
|Alabama||*36,060||5,000||already on||*6,000||finished||*8,100||*Jul 1||*Aug 30|
|Alaska||2,586||2,586||already on||maybe on||*4,000||finished||in doubt||in doubt|
|Arizona||15,062||(es) 8,000||already on||*16,000||*3,500||*3,500||May 21||Jun 30|
|Arkansas||21,506||0||0||*in court||0||0||Jan 2||Sep 15|
|California||(reg) 89,007||147,238||already on||already on||already on||already on||Oct 24 95||Aug 9|
|Colorado||no procedure||0||0||0||0||*already on||--||Jul 16|
|Connecticut||no procedure||7,500||60||maybe on||0||*1,200||--||Aug 7|
|Delaware||(reg.) 191||3,828||already on||*30||(reg) *110||(reg) *180||Aug 17||Jul 15|
|D.C.||no procedure||(es) 3,500||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||--||Aug 20|
|Florida||196,788||65,596||*49,000||*25,000||*1,400||0||Jul 16||Jul 15|
|Georgia||30,036||30,036||already on||0||0||0||Jul 9||Jul 9|
|Hawaii||4,889||3,829||already on||maybe on||*6,000||0||Apr 24||Sep 6|
|Idaho||9,644||4,822||already on||0||*850||600||Aug 31||Aug 26|
|Illinois||no procedure||25,000||already on||can't start||can't start||can't start||--||Aug 5|
|Indiana||no procedure||29,822||already on||0||0||0||--||Jul 15|
|Iowa||no procedure||1,500||0||0||*1,200||*1,000||--||Aug 16|
|Kansas||16,418||5,000||already on||*7,000||*50||*5,200||Jun 1||Aug 6|
|Kentucky||no procedure||5,000||*2,300||0||*750||*1,800||--||Aug 29|
|Louisiana||0||0||0||maybe on||0||0||Jun 30||Aug 29|
|Maine||(reg) 25,565||4,000||*4,600||*virtually on||0||*4,700||De 14 95||May 24|
|Maryland||10,000||72,785||already on||*5,000||*8,000||*16,000||Aug 5||Aug 5|
|Massachsts.||(reg) 34,000||10,000||already on||0||0||1,000||Feb 14||Jul 30|
|Michigan||30,891||30,891||already on||*16,000||0||0||Jul 18||Jul 18|
|Minnesota||89,731||2,000||can't start||*already on||can't start||can't start||May 1||Sep 10|
|Mississippi||just be org.||1,000||already on||maybe on||already on||already on||Apr 1||Sep 6|
|Missouri||10,000||10,000||already on||0||*600||0||Aug 5||Aug 5|
|Montana||10,471||10,471||already on||*already on||*already on||0||Mar 14||Jul 31|
|Nebraska||5,773||2,500||already on||*4,000||*6,000||0||Aug 1||Aug 27|
|Nevada||3,761||3,761||already on||*2,000||already on||already on||Jul 11||Jul 11|
|New Hampshire||no procedure||3,000||already on||0||0||*900||--||Aug 7|
|New Jersey||no procedure||800||0||0||*1,000||*1,200||--||Jul 29|
|New Mexico||2,339||14,029||already on||*finished||*finished||*finished||Apr 2||Sep 10|
|New York||no procedure||15,000||can't start||maybe on||can't start||can't start||--||Aug 20|
|North Carolina||51,904||(es) 80,000||*56,700||*28,000||*59,000||1,700||May 15||Jun 28|
|North Dakota||7,000||4,000||already on||already on||already on||0||De 29 95||Sep 6|
|Ohio||33,463||5,000||*400||*finished||already on||*finished||Aug 22||Aug 22|
|Oklahoma||49,751||41,711||*58,200||*25,000||0||*8,300||May 31||Jul 15|
|Oregon||18,316||14,601||already on||maybe on||*150||0||Aug 27||Aug 27|
|Pennsylvania||no procedure||24,425||*800||*500||0||0||--||Aug 1|
|Rhode Island||18,069||1,000||can't start||maybe on||can't start||can't start||Aug 1||Sep 6|
|South Carolina||10,000||10,000||already on||already on||finished||already on||May 5||Aug 1|
|South Dakota||7,792||3,117||already on||1,500||*200||*200||Apr 2||Aug 6|
|Tennessee||37,179||25||0||*13,000||0||0||Apr 3||Aug 20|
|Texas||43,963||61,541||already on||*40,000||*21,000||*1,000||May 27||May 13|
|Utah||500||300||already on||already on||*already on||already on||Mar 1||Sep 1|
|Vermont||just be org.||1,000||already on||0||already on||*550||Sep 19||Sep 19|
|Virginia||no procedure||15,168||*1,000||already on||*100||*450||--||Aug 23|
|Washington||no procedure||200||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||--||Jul 6|
|West Virginia||no procedure||6,837||*7,800||0||0||0||--||Aug 1|
|Wisconsin||10,000||2,000||already on||0||0||already on||Jun 1||Sep 3|
|Wyoming||8,000||9,810||already on||*3,500||*1,200||0||May 1||Aug 25|
Green is on in Ak, Ca, Me, NM, Or, and has *4,750 in Hi, *500 in Va, *300 in Pa. & *100 in N.J. Soc. Equality has *8,000 in Mich. Wkrs World has *5,000 in Ma., *500 in Md, & *300 in Oh. Other nationally-organized parties on: Grassrts in Vt.; New Pty in Wis.; Socialist in Ore & Vt; Wrkrs Wrld in Mich; Prohi. in Tn.; *Soc Wkrs in Utah; *Amer in Utah. "FULL PARTY REQ." is a procedure by which a new party can qualify before it chooses candidates; not every state has such a procedure. "Maybe On" for Reform means there is a qualified party which may join. * -- entry changed since last issue.
On March 20, the Atlanta Field Office of the U.S. Postal Service ruled that petitioning on post office-owned sidewalks is permitted, if the petition is to qualify a new party, and it does not name any candidates. In most states, petitions to create a new party do not mention any candidates. The post office had previously said that no petitioning is permitted on its sidewalks for candidate petitions, because this is "campaigning".
Ross Perot is letting his name be used as a stand-in presidential candidate, for petitioning in states which require a name on the petition. The party national nominating convention will be August 18-20, after the Republican convention but before the Democratic one. The party cannot wait until Labor Day because Montana, Ohio and Virginia require newly qualified parties to certify their final nominees by August 24 or August 25.
Both the Pennsylvania Patriot Party and the Minnesota Independence Party recently voted to change their names to "Reform Party". The Virginia Independent Party, which is ballot-qualified and is the Virginia unit of the Reform Party, hasn't decided yet whether to change its name or not.
In some states, the party is circulating both a party petition and an independent presidential candidate petition, as insurance in case one or the other petition fails.
Ralph Nader has said "Yes" so far, to every qualified state Green Party which has asked him to be its presidential candidate. He also seems willing to let other Green Parties circulate petitions with his name listed as a presidential candidate, if the state does not require him to sign a declaration of candidacy before the petition can circulate. However, in states in which a signed declaration of the presidential candidate is needed before petitioning can begin, he won't sign, and a stand-in will be used. Nader doesn't wish to file campaign documents yet with the FEC, and therefore is avoiding signing candidacy forms.
1. On March 21, the FEC tentatively ruled that it cannot make a determination of whether a presidential candidate is eligible for primary season matching funds, unless the candidate promises to (1) agree to obtain and furnish to the FEC any evidence it may request of qualified campaign expenses; (2) agree to keep and furnish to the FEC any records, books and other information it may request; and (3) agree to an audit and examination by the FEC.
This ruling was made at the request of Harry Browne, candidate for the Libertarian nomination. Browne has raised enough money to qualify for primary season matching funds, but he doesn't wish to take the money. For various legal and campaign purposes, he wished the FEC to say, for the record, that he is eligible. However, given the ruling, he will not pursue his request, since it would cost his campaign thousands of dollars in accounting fees to fulfill the FEC's demands.
2. Ron Paul, former Republican congressman who was the Libertarian presidential candidate in 1988, is again seeking a congressional seat in Texas. At the March 12 Texas primary he qualified for a spot on the run-off ballot, for the April 9 Republican run-off.
On March 25, the Socialist Workers Party announced that its presidential candidate will be James Harris, of Atlanta, Georgia. Harris, 48, is a meatpacker. The v-p candidate will be Laura Garza, 37, of New York, a staffwriter for The Militant. The campaign can be reached at Bx 2652, New York NY 10009, tel. (212)-242-5530.
1. The Natural Law Party presidential convention will be September 4-5, in Washington, D.C. The party leadership has already endorsed John Hagelin for president and Mike Tompkins for vice-president; they also ran in 1992.
2. The Grassroots Party, which would legalize marijuana, expects to nominate Dennis Peron for president.