|This issue was originally printed on pink paper.|
Bills to improve ballot access have made some progress in the last month in 7 states:
1. Alabama: On March 5, the House Committee which handles election law bills passed HB 620, which lowers the vote needed for a party to remain on the ballot from 20% to 10% (for any statewide office).
2. Arkansas: On February 24, HB 1771 passed the House. It changes the petition deadline for a new party from January to May, and provides that new parties nominate by convention, not by primary. However, it does not lower the number of signatures; the existing requirement is 3% of the last vote. The bill is designed to settle the lawsuit brought by the Reform Party last year, even though the state is pursuing an appeal.
3. Colorado: HB 1168 passed the Colorado House on February 17, by 51-14, and will have a Senate hearing this week. It provides a means for a group to become a qualified party before it has chosen its candidates. 10,000 signatures or 1,000 registrants are required; the group would then nominate by convention.
4. Hawaii: (See also this SB 1064 update.) Both HB 1400 and SB 1064 passed their respective houses on March 4. Each bill eases the requirements for a party to remain qualified. The immediate effect would be to put the Green Party back on the ballot.
5. Maryland: On March 7 the Senate Environmental and Economic Affairs committee passed SB 293, Senator Paul Pinsky's bill to improve ballot access. The vote was unanimous.
6. New Hampshire: (See also this update.) On February 27, HB 417 passed the House constitutional & Statutory Revision Committee . It changes the formula on how a party remains on the ballot. If it passes, the Libertarian and Reform Parties will be qualified.
7. North Dakota: On February 19, the Senate passed SB 2368, which changes the vote test for a party to remain qualified, from 5% for Governor, to 5% for Governor or President. If the bill passes, the Reform Party will be qualified.
In seven states, bills to liberalize ballot access or voter registration choice for minor parties or independent candidates have been introduced:
1. Arizona: HB 2550, by Representative Carmine Cardamone (D-Tucson), eases independent candidate ballot access. It deletes the existing requirement that only registered independents can sign, and moves the petition deadline from June to August.
2. Georgia: SB 149, by Senator Donzella James (D-College Park), lowers the number of signatures needed for third party and independent candidates for U.S. House, legislature, and county office, from 5% of registered voters, to 3%.
3. Iowa: SF 85, by Senator Mary Lundby (R-Marion), would provide a blank line on the portion of voter registration forms which asks which party the voter is affiliated with.
4. Maine: (See also this update.) LD 1376, by Senator Beverly Daggett (D-Augusta) and Rep. John Tuttle (D-Sanford), makes it easier for a party to remain on the ballot. Current law is unclear as to whether a party which polls 5% for Governor or President, retains its place on the ballot for two or four years; the bill clarifies that it is four years. If the bill passes, the Green Party will be assured of a place on the ballot for the 1998 election.
5. Massachusetts: (See also this update.) H 1685, by Rep. Alvin E. Thompson (D-Cambridge) would make it easier for a qualified, small political party to nominate candidates.
6. North Carolina: (See also this update.) HB 79 (not SB 2, as reported in the last B.A.N.), is the bill which makes ballot access improvements. It was introduced by Rep. John Rayfield (R-Belmont).
7. West Virginia: HB 2117, by Representative Barbara Fleischauer (D-Morgantown), eliminates the requirement that primary voters can't sign minor party or independent candidate petitions.
SB 78 passed the legislature on the last day of the session, March 5. As amended on the House floor, it raises the number of signatures for a new party from 500 signatures to 2,000 signatures. However, it clarifies the vote test, to make it clear that a party can add the vote of all its candidates together, toward the goal of polling 2% of the statewide vote.
On February 21, the Senate defeated HB 179, which would have lowered the number of signatures for a new party from 8,000 to 5,000. The vote was 18-12. All but two of the "No" votes were from Republicans. B.A.N. wrote each Senator who voted "No", asking why, but no one has responded yet. The action was a surprise, since the bill had passed the Senate Corporations & Elections Committee with only one "No" vote and had also easily passed the House. One Senator voted for the bill in Committee and against it on the Senate floor.
However, HB 45 has been signed into law. It changes the petition deadline for new parties from May 1 to June 1. As a result, the only states which still have petition deadlines for new parties earlier than June 1, and which do not require new parties to nominate by primary, are New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, & West Virginia.
1. Hawaii: SB 772, by Senator Mike McCartney (D-Honolulu), would have legalized write-in voting, but the bill failed to pass committee by the end-of-February deadline.
2. South Carolina: Bills in both houses have been introduced to legalize write-in voting for president: SB 399 by Senator James Bryan (D-Laurens) and HB 3009 by Rep. James Cromer (Indp-Columbia).
3. Virginia: SB 667, which legalizes presidential write-ins, passed unanimously in both houses of the legislature and is now awaiting action from Governor George Allen. He has until March 24 to sign or veto it.
1. Illinois: SB 470, by Senator Arthur Berman (D-Chicago) would restore the "straight-ticket" device, a means by which voters can vote for all candidates of one particular party by making a single mark. The last session of the legislature eliminated the device.
2. New York: SB 1443, by Senator Seraphin Maltese (R-Brooklyn), to eliminate blank rows between candidates, and thereby make it easier for voters to find all candidates for a single office, passed the Senate Elections Committee on February 12.
3. South Dakota: SB 21, by Secretary of State Joyce Hazeltine, was signed into law on February 4. It eliminates the "straight-party" device from ballots.
SB 40, the bill to drastically increase petition requirements for minor parties and independent candidates, was heard in the Senate Elections Committee on February 18. The bill's sponsor, Senator Jerry Howard, said that current ballot access laws are so easy, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein could get a party on the Missouri ballot. However, the bill got a cold reception, and is not likely to advance further. Representatives of the U.S. Taxpayers and Green parties testified against the bill.
On February 24, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal brought by the state of Arkansas over whether states may put labels on ballots indicating a candidate's stance on term limits for Congress. The voters had passed a law providing for such labels in November 1996, but the State Supreme Court had invalidated it even before it was voted on. Priest v Donovan, 96-919.
The U.S. Supreme Court refusal was considered surprising, since the U.S. Supreme Court had intervened in October 1996 to guarantee that the initiative should remain on the ballot. The Arkansas Supreme Court had ruled that since the law would be unconstitutional, it should be taken off the ballot. The U.S. Supreme Court had put it back on, and the voters passed it, but now the decision that the law is void, will stand.
Similar laws were passed by the voters in Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada and South Dakota. They have already been attacked in court in Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.
On February 19, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Schenck v Pro-Choice Network of Western New York, 95-1065, that "speech in public areas is at its most protected on public sidewalks, a prototypical example of a traditional public forum".
The case involved the right of anti-abortion activists to approach women as they are about to enter clinics. The principle set forth in the opinion ought to bolster the right to circulate petitions on sidewalks. The Court said there is no "right to be left alone" on a public street or sidewalk.
Although the Louisiana legislature doesn't convene until April, several legislators have already announced that they will introduce bills to abolish the "blanket primary", in which all voters are permitted to vote for a candidate of any party, in the primary.
1. Hawaii: HB 806, introduced by Rep. Roy Takumi (D-Pearl City), would increase the number of signatures needed to get on the primary ballot for statewide or congressional office from 25, to 200, signatures. However, it appears to lack legislative support.
2. Illinois: SB 173, introduced by Senator Brad Burzynski (R-Sycamore) would require petitions to be rejected, if elections authorities determined they do not have enough signatures. Under current law, all petitions are deemed sufficient unless a private individual challenges them.
2. Massachusetts: (See also this update.) H 2090, by Rep. Angelo Scaccia (D-Boston) would provide that voters who are registered as members of unqualified parties, should automatically be converted to independents, if their unqualified party did not qualify 2 years after it first sought to qualify.
Bills in at least five states have been introduced, to expand the "no First Amendment zone" around polling places, from 100 feet (which is normal) to greater distances. The bills are:
1. Arkansas: HB 1041, to expand the zone to 200 feet.
2. Connecticut: Bill 5037, to expand the zone to 1,500 feet.
3. Idaho: HB 33, 300 feet; also HB 167, which would make the zone 300 feet on public property, and 100 feet on private property.
4. Maine: LD 898, specifically prohibits petitioning (but permits exit polls) inside the polls.
5. Nevada: AB 18 establishes a 100 foot barrier; currently there is no restriction, except inside the building where polling is taking place.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court approved a 100 foot "no politics" zone around polling places in 1992, it later refused to intervene when the Louisiana Supreme Court struck down a 300 foot barrier.
In the November 1996 elections, either the Republicans or the Democrats failed to run a candidate in 32.7% of all regularly-scheduled state legislative contests.
1996 was not atypical. In 1994, there was no Democrat or no Republican in 35.8% of the regularly-scheduled state legislative races; in 1992, 32.8%; in 1990, 35.9%; in 1988, 36.6%.
See this note about tables.
|STATE||SEATS||NO REP||NO DEM|
"No REP" means the number of seats with no Republican candidate; "No DEM" means the number with no Democratic candidate.
Seven states (Alaska, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Virginia) did not elect partisan legislators in 1996 and are omitted.
When any major party nominee captured the opposing major party's nomination as well as his or her own party's nomination, the opposing party is considered not to have a nominee. This happened only in New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.
On January 22, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that no one may run for the non-partisan post of State Board of Education in November, if that person had run in a partisan primary for any other office in May of that year. State ex rel Purdy v Bd. of Elections, 673 NE 2d 1351. The vote was 4-3.
Ohio bans "sore losers" from running in the general election if they lost any primary race. However, it is ludicrous to apply the "sore loser" principle to a non-partisan election which takes place 7 months after a primary. The majority had a tough time coming up with a state interest in the law, finally coming up with a single sentence: the law prevents "intraparty conflicts, voter confusion, and candidacies prompted by shortrange goals".
1. California: (See also this update.) The Libertarian and Peace & Freedom Parties are joining the Republican and Democratic Parties in the lawsuit California Democratic Party v Jones, civ-5-96-2038, the case over the validity of a blanket primary when parties do not desire such a primary.
2. Florida: On February 17, the State Supreme Court refused to reconsider its opinion in Libertarian Party v Smith, no. 87,342. The issue is whether the state may force minor parties to pay higher candidate filing fees than major parties. The party will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.
3. Louisiana: On March 17, the U.S. Supreme Court will probably say whether it will hear the state's appeal in Foster v Love, no. 96-670. This is the case over whether Louisiana must obey federal law, which says that congressional elections must be held in November. Louisiana holds them in late September or early October, with a run-off in November if no one received at least 50%.
4. Nebraska: (See also this update.) All the briefs have been submitted in the 8th circuit in Bernbeck v Moore, 96-3503. The issue is whether states may ban out-of-state petitioners; the lower court had ruled that out-of-state petitioners must be permitted.
5. Texas: A hearing will be held in the 5th circuit in the week of April 28 in Lightbourn v County of El Paso, 96-50564. The issue is whether the federal law which bans discrimination against the disabled, can be used to require states to supply tape decks which will let blind voters cast a secret ballot. The lower court had ruled that such devices must be supplied.
S. 57, by U.S. Senator Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), would provide voluntary spending limits and public financing for U.S. Senate candidates. If enacted, it would violate the Document of the Copenhagen meeting of the OSCE, which the United States signed in 1990. That document pledges the signing nations to "respect the right of individuals and groups to establish, in full freedom, their own political parties and organizations with the necessary legal guarantees to enable them to compete with each other on a basis of equal treatment before the law".
S. 57 provides that "eligible" U.S. Senate candidates are those who have raised the lesser of $250,000 or 10% of the expenditure limit for that state. This is non-discriminatory. But, S. 57 then goes on to provide less public financing for "eligible" candidates, if they are not nominees of parties which polled 25% of the last vote for president. This provision is on page 23 of the bill.
See this note about tables.
|# SEATS UP||Libt.||Nat Law||Reform||USTax||Green||Consv||Other|
|Alabama||0||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|California||80||126,055||124,830||21,199||7,475||12,851||Peace & Freedom 28,651|
|Connecticut||151||1,691||237||1,414||576||A Connecticut Party 5,963|
|Illinois||118||8||Harold Wshington Pty 6,028|
|Louisiana||0||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|Maryland||0||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|Michigan||110||20,882||Workers World 672|
|Mississippi||0||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|Nebraska||0||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|New Jersey||0||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|New York||150||118,903||486||1,829||280,340||Rt 63,668; L 55,927; Com 265|
|Pennsylvania||203||9,822||232||4,970||1,308||Soc. Workers 128|
|Rhode Island||100||127||371||Cool Moose 7,262|
|Utah||75||5,652||304||153||Amer. 4,770; Indp Pty 2,163|
|Vermont||150||Prog. 3,937; Lib Union 116|
|Virginia||0||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
Conservative column includes Independence Party of Connecticut. In addition to parties listed above, in New York the Freedom Party polled 34,126 votes and the New Party polled 411. "Rt" = Right to Life; "L" = Liberal, in New York line above.
|Alabama||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|California||4.05||3.96||5.24||5.23||9.41||Peace & Freedom 4.39|
|Connecticut||9.83||1.95||7.10||4.53||A Connecticut Party 6.54|
|Illinois||Harold Wshington Pty 16.20|
|Louisiana||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|Maryland||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|Michigan||3.20||Workers World .87|
|Mississippi||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|Nebraska||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|New Jersey||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|New York||3.53||2.36||2.38||6.40||Rt 2.98; L 3.07; Comm. 1.29|
|Pennsylvania||3.77||1.21||9.84||6.21||Socialist Workers .65|
|Rhode Island||3.24||8.43||Cool Moose 15.64|
|Utah||4.38||1.36||2.20||American 7.97; Indp. 8.69|
|Vermont||Prog. 60.34; Lib Union 6.59|
|Virginia||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
Percentages reflect the number of votes received by each party for the lower legislative body in November 1996, divided by number of voters in the districts in which each particular party ran candidates. "Rt" = Right to Life; "L" = Liberal. Conservative column includes Independence Party of Connecticut. In New York, Freedom Party polled 1.07%; New Party polled .86%.
On March 6, the Federal Election Commission decided that the Lenora Fulani 1992 campaign committee must repay $117,000 in primary season matching funds. The 1992 Fulani campaign had received $1,989,966 in federal funds. A year ago, the FEC had demanded a repayment of $612,000, so the revised amount represents a substantially lighter burden. Nevertheless, the Fulani campaign disputes the revised amount.
Since the November 1996 election, there have been at least two special legislative elections in which minor parties participated:
1. New York: on February 18, for Assembly, 52nd district: Millman received 55.76% on the Democratic line and an additional 3.68% on the Liberal line; Johnston received 17.17% on the Republican line and an additional 4.83% on the Conservative line; Seeman (Green Party) received 14.61%; Asfazadour (independent) received 3.96%.
2. Virginia: on December 17, 1996, for House of Delegates, 35th district: Lovelace (Democrat) 50.95%; Polychrones (Republican) 44.89%; Buckley (Libertarian) 4.16%. The Republican candidate had won this seat at the last regularly-scheduled election, in November 1995.
The Independence Party of Mississippi, a ballot-qualified party, has decided to ask the Secretary of State to let it change its name to the Reform Party. If the state agrees, this will be the first time any ballot-qualified party has ever been permitted to change its name in this state.
The Utah Green Party still hasn't submitted its petition to be a qualified party in 1998. It must do so by May 2, or the new law will take effect which requires four times as many signatures. The North Carolina Libertarian Party now has 37,500 signatures; 51,324 valid signatures are needed.
The Harold Washington Party lost its status as a fully-qualified party in Cook County, Illinois, at the November 1996 election. It had enjoyed that status for six years.
However, a new party composed mostly of African-American activists came into existence as a Cook County qualified party, the Justice Party. The Justice Party is led by R. Eugene Pincham, one of the founders of the original Harold Washington Party.
Status as a party depended on the results of three county-wide partisan offices voted on in November, 1996. A party needed at least 5% in any of these. The results were:
1. State's Attorney: Democratic 47.88%; Republican 41.26%; Justice 9.31%; Harold Washington 1.55%.
2. Recorder of Deeds: Democratic 65.33%; Republican 30.75%; Harold Washington 3.29%; Justice .63%.
3. Clerk of Court: Democratic 70.36%; Republican 24.32%; Harold Washington 3.93%; Justice 1.38%.
Many errors have crept into official state election returns for the November 1996 presidential election:
1. Florida: the Libertarian vote for Volusia County is shown as zero, when the county certified 639 votes.
2. Indiana: the U.S. Taxpayers Party write-in vote for Hamilton County is shown as zero, when the county certified 16 votes.
3. Kansas: the Reform Party vote for Doniphan County is shown as zero, when the county certified 443 votes.
4. Missouri: the Green Party write-in vote for Boone County is shown as zero, when the county certified 280.
5. South Carolina: the Natural Law Party vote for Union County is shown as zero, when the county certified 8.
Florida and South Carolina state elections officials say they will correct the errors for the final printed version of the election returns, but Indiana, Kansas and Missouri say the errors cannot be corrected because the official totals were already certified.