|This issue was originally printed on green paper.|
In at least 13 states, bills will be introduced to improve ballot access:
1. Arkansas: Rep. Courtney Sheppard, (Dem, El Dorado), says he will introduce a bill to ease new party ballot access. If he introduces the bill that was suggested to him, the number of signatures would be 5,000; new parties would nominate by convention; the petition would be due in July.
2. Colorado: Rep. Ron Tupa (Dem, Boulder), says he will introduce a bill to provide a petition procedure for a new party to qualify itself. Colorado and Washington state (and to some extent Alaska) are the only states in the western half of the U.S. which lack such a procedure.
3. Georgia: Rep. Brian Joyce (Rep, Lookout Mountain), says he will introduce a bill to improve ballot access. Georgia's requirements for third party candidates for the U.S. House are so restrictive, no third party candidate for that office has ever qualified in the entire history of the law, which dates from 1943.
4. Hawaii: Dwayne Yoshina, State Elections Director, will ask the legislature to make it easier for a party to remain on the ballot. Hawaii requires a 10% vote for a party to remain on; also, if a party has petitioned for each of the last 3 elections, it may stay on for 10 more years, regardless of its vote.
However, if a party has been on for the last three elections, because it met the 10% vote test in any of those last 3 elections (as opposed to being on because it petitioned), it can't qualify for the "10-year bonus". Yoshina will ask that the "10-year bonus" be given to parties which have been on for the last three elections by virtue of their vote as well as by virtue of petitioning. If the bill passes, the Green Party will be on the ballot thru the year 2006.
5. Illinois: Rep. Cal Skinner (Rep, Crystal Lake), will again introduce a bill to make it easier for parties (which have qualified for statewide office) to run for U.S. House, state legislature and county office. Now, petitions signed by 5% of the last vote are required for those offices.
6. Maine: Former Secretary of State Bill Diamond and the League of Women Voters have asked the legislature to pass the "Democracy Improvement Bill". It would allow a party which met the 5% vote test, to remain on the ballot for 4 years, instead of 2 years (although the existing law is unclear; some feel 4 years is already permitted). If this part of the bill passes, the Green Party will remain on the ballot through 1998.
Also, the bill would provide that registered independents may sign the new party petition (currently, no one may sign without also changing his or her registration to join the new party). Also, the bill would let independents serve as polling place officials; make the party petition due 10 days earlier (putting it in the first week in December of the year before the election); and provide that when a group becomes a party by polling 5% of the vote for Governor or President, it is instantly recognized as "qualified" (currently, a group isn't considered "qualified" for 18 months after it first meets the vote test).
7. Maryland: Sen. Paul Pinsky (Dem, Cheverly), will again introduce his bill to lower the number of signatures needed for third party and independent candidates. The bill passed the Senate last year, but failed on the House floor.
8. Massachusetts: A bill will be introduced to make it easier for small qualified parties to nominate candidates. Currently, it is almost impossible for "qualified" third parties in Massachusetts to run any candidates, other than for president.
9. New Hampshire: Rep. Phil Weber (Rep, Grafton), has introduced HB 546 (LSR 97) to change the definition of "political party" from a group which polled 3% for Governor, to one which polled 2% for any statewide office. If the bill were to pass, both the Reform and Libertarian Parties would be "qualified".
10. North Carolina: the Election Laws Committees of both Houses are sponsoring a bill which would let voters register into any party (whether it is qualified or not); remove wording on the new party petition which says that the signers are "organizing" that party; and change the petition deadline from May to July. The bill may be amended to also decrease the number of signatures (now over 50,000). And it may be amended to lower the vote test (now 10%) for a party to remain on the ballot. Finally, it may be amended to let a party qualify in just part of the state.
11. North Dakota: Secretary of State Al Jaeger is asking the legislature to revise the law on how parties remain on the ballot. The current law exempts the Democratic and Republican Parties by name, from showing any support; but other parties must poll 5% for Governor.
12. West Virginia: Rep. Barbara Fleischauer (Dem, Morgantown), has persuaded the Judiciary Committees of both houses to pass a bill, ending the law which makes it illegal for anyone to sign a petition for a third party, and to vote in the primary. The bill also ends the practice of requiring third party candidates to file a declaration of candidacy 30 days before the petitions are due; instead, the declaration would be due when the petitions are due.
13. Wyoming: Rep. Mike Massey (Dem, Laramie), has introduced HB 45, to change the petition deadline for new parties from May to July.
1. national: On January 6, the U.S. Supreme Court refused the Republican Party's appeal in Republican National Committee v FEC, 96-415. The issue is whether candidates can be forced to make vigorous efforts to encourage donors to disclose their occupation. The lower court (the D.C. circuit) upheld the FEC regulation, 76 F 3d 400. This is only the second time that the High Court has refused to hear the appeal of a major party national committee.
2. Arkansas: On December 6, the state asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Arkansas Term Limits v Donovan, no. 96-903 & 96-919. The issue is whether a state may print on its ballots, next to the names of candidates, information on whether those candidates support a constitutional amendment for congressional term limits. The Arkansas Supreme Court had ruled the law unconstitutional.
3. Louisiana: The U.S. Supreme Court is taking a close look at Love v Foster, the 5th circuit decision which said that states must follow federal law and hold congressional elections in November, not September. On January 3, the U.S. Supreme Court asked the plaintiffs to file a brief, defending their contention that the state practice is illegal. This is a clue that the U.S. Supreme Court may hear the state's appeal (no. 96-670).
4. Oklahoma: On December 10, the State Supreme Court ruled the new congressional term limits law invalid (same issue as in Arkansas paragraph, above). In re Initiative Petition No. 364, no. 86828.
5. Virginia: On November 15, the 4th circuit held a hearing in Marshall v Meadows, 96-1685, over whether the Republican Party may decide for itself that it doesn't wish Democrats voting in its primaries (voters in Virginia don't register into parties, and any voter is free to vote in any party's primary). The judges, Clyde Hamilton, J. Michael Luttig and Karen J. Williams, are all Bush appointees. Most of the discussion was over the side issue of standing.
(See also this correction.)
Registration data for the November 1996 election, as reported in the last B.A.N., was flawed: (1) the Maine and Pennsylvania figures were not the most recent tally; (2) the New York figure for the U.S. Taxpayers Party should not have consisted of the number of registered voters in the Right to Life Party of New York. Although the Right to Life Party (which exists only in New York) cooperated with the U.S. Taxpayers Party by nominating Howard Phillips as the Right to Life Party presidential candidate last year, it is not accurate to characterize the Right to Life Party as the New York state affiliate of the U.S. Taxpayers Party. The Right to Life Party requested this correction.
Therefore, when the Me., N.Y., and Pa. adjustments are made, the number of registered voters in each political party is: Democratic 36,946,324 (45.68%), Republican 27,323,046 (33.78%), Indp & Misc 15,227,612 (18.83%), US Taxpayers 306,900 (.38%), Reform 207,933 (.26%), Libertarian 162,545 (.14%), Green 112,199 (.11%), Natural Law 85,853 (.11%), other parties 510,016 (.63%). Total 80,882,428.
Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney will soon re-introduce her bill to let states use proportional representation to elect members of the U.S. House; and state representative Bob Holmes will introduce a bill to provide for it in state elections.
The chart below gives the tally for the 9 presidential candidates who were on the ballot in at least 10 states. "00" means write-ins weren't tallied because the candidate didn't file as a write-in. "?" means the write-ins were counted but no one has tallied them up yet. Anyone who wishes data for the other presidential candidates, may send a SASE.
Two third party presidential candidates received public funding in 1996: John Hagelin, $504,826 in primary season matching funds. Ross Perot, $29,055,400 in general electon funds.
The first chart gives the vote by party for U.S. House of Representatives, last year. The second chart gives percentages.
The "other" vote in the first chart is entirely for independent candidates, except in: Alaska, Alaska Independence; California, 48,136 Peace & Freedom, 9,845 independent; Connecticut, 49,197 A Connecticut Party, 6,477 Independence Party; Massachusetts, 2,532 Conservative, 15,419 independent; Michigan, 2,704 Workers World, 1,158 Socialist Equality; Minnesota, 16,717 Grassroots, 2,696 Indp. Grassroots; Mississippi, Independence; New Jersey, 20,080 Conservative, 10,213 independent; New York, 261,849 Conservative, 89,430 Liberal, 85,927 Right To Life, 39,379 Freedom, 8,858 independent; Ohio, Socialist Equality; Oregon, Socialist; Pennsylvania, 713 Socialist Equality, 10,053 independent; Utah, 3,070 American, 706 independent; Vermont, 1,965 Liberty Union, 1,350 Grassroots, 140,678 independent.
In the second chart, the percentages are the share of the vote that each party polled, in those districts in which it had a candidate on the ballot.
The charts use the September vote for Louisiana, and the November vote for Texas. Although each state provided for runoffs if no one received over 50% of the vote (runoffs were held in November in Louisiana, and December in Texas), it was felt that earlier elections were more meaningful, since a majority of seats in each state were settled in the earlier of the two elections.
Missouri Senator Jerry Howard (Dem, Dexter) has introduced SB 40, which increases the petition for new parties to 20% of the last vote cast, and changes the petition deadline from July to March. The bill, if enacted, would be unconstitutional.
Howard seems angry because, although he had no Republican opponent last year, he had a U.S. Taxpayers Party opponent who polled 36.9% of the vote (the next B.A.N. will have legislative election returns).
See this note about tables.
|Dem.||Rep.||Libt.||Nat Law||Reform||US Tax||Green||SocWkr||Other|
|District of Columbia||134,996||11,306||1,146||2,119|
See this note about tables.
|Libt.||Nat Law||Reform||US Tax||Green||SocWkr||Consrv||Grassrts||Soc. Eq.|
|District of Columbia||.77|
Percentages were not determined for write-in candidates. See above for more information about this chart.
See this note about tables.
|Hawaii||205,012||113,943||27,358||10,386||2,493||358||570||- -||- -|
|Nebraska||236,761||363,467||71,278||- -||2,792||1,928||1,189||- -||- -|
|Nevada||203,974||199,244||43,986||4,730||4,460||1,732||545||- -||- -|
|Oklahoma||488,105||582,315||130,788||- -||5,505||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|South Carolina||506,152||573,339||64,377||- -||4,271||2,043||1,240||- -||- -|
|South Dakota||139,333||150,543||31,250||- -||1,472||912||316||- -||- -|
|Virginia||1,091,060||1,138,350||159,861||- -||9,174||13,687||4,510||- -||- -|
|District of Columbia||158,220||17,339||3,611||4,780||588||00||283||00||257|
William Plies of Maryland and John Moore of Iowa both attended the Vienna meeting on November 13, 1996, of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to present evidence that the U.S. violates the Copenhagen Meeting Document. Plies is an attorney, and Moore is ballot access director for the Natural Law Party.
Before delegates from 35 nations, Moore explained how U.S. laws give favorable treatment to the Democratic and Republican Parties, relative to other parties. The U.S. State Department representatives were asked to respond. They, in turn, asked John Surina of the FEC, to respond for the U.S.
Surina said, "Representatives of the Natural Law Party have raised issues of access to the electoral process by small emerging political parties. These are valid concerns, particularly in states with majoritarian systems rather than proportional representation. Despite this structural disadvantage, however, there are avenues of redress available and I do not believe that U.S. practice is inconsistent with the Copenhagen Document as I understand it. Access to the ballot is a matter of state, not federal, law. However, the federal courts have been active in responding to complaints and do not shy away from overturning state laws that unfairly discriminate against small parties."
Plies spoke next. He rebutted the statement that federal courts usually overturn discriminatory election laws. Although he spoke several minutes over his allotted time, no one interrupted him, and the audience seemed deeply attentive. Unfortunately, no one was there from the press.
U.S. courts do not strike down state laws which discriminate against new parties. Examples:
1. Arizona: in 1994, the 9th circuit refused to strike down a state law which says that the two largest parties are entitled to a free list (on election day) of the names of voters who voted before noon; no other parties can obtain it.
2. California: in 1992 the 9th circuit upheld law which permits large parties to jointly nominate a candidate, but does not permit smaller qualified parties to do the same.
3. Colorado: in 1986 the State Supreme Court upheld law that only members of the two largest parties can be election judges. In 1991 it upheld a law forbidding small parties from nominating any candidates who have been members of another party in the preceding year, even though the Democratic Party is not similarly restricted.
4. Florida: in 1996, the State Supreme Court upheld a law giving a substantial filing fee rebate to parties with membership greater than 5%, but not to other parties.
5. Indiana: in 1984, the 7th circuit refused to disturb a law giving parties which poll 10% of the vote, all the revenues from the sale of personalized license plates.
6. Louisiana: in 1983, the 5th circuit upheld law which denies candidates any partisan label on the ballot (other than president), unless they are members of parties which have membership of at least 5%, or unless they polled 5% of the vote for president at the last election.
7. Maine: in 1993, the 1st circuit upheld state law which lets members of large parties obtain a place on the primary ballot with a petition signed by fewer than one-third of 1% of party members, whereas members of small qualified parties need a petition signed by over half of all party members, to achieve the same goal.
8. New Hampshire: in 1996 the 1st circuit upheld law that only members of the two largest parties can be ballot clerks.
9. Washington: in 1994 the 9th circuit upheld state law giving members of qualified parties until late August to qualify for the primary ballot, whereas other candidates must qualify for that same primary ballot by early July.
10. other: courts in Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island & Wisconsin have upheld putting new party candidates in hard-to-find corners of the ballot, while the major parties always get better spots.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it shows that Surina is wrong. Nevertheless, B.A.N. thanks Surina for the copy of his remarks, which were "off the cuff"; he didn't realize he would be asked to address this topic, beforehand.