Ballot Access News -- July 2, 1997

Volume 13, Number 4

This issue was originally printed on tan paper.

Table of Contents
  1. PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR VETOES SB 200
  2. FAULTY NEW HAMPSHIRE BILL SIGNED
  3. PARTIAL NEW JERSEY WIN
  4. MAINE GREEN PARTY
  5. HAWAII BILL SIGNED
  6. OREGON BILL SIGNED
  7. LOUISIANA PRIMARIES
  8. NORTH CAROLINA BILL PENDING
  9. CALIFORNIA TERM LIMITS
  10. FLORIDA COURT RULES IN REFORM PARTY DISPUTE
  11. OTHER LAWSUIT NEWS
  12. POLITICAL SCIENTISTS BATTLE EACH OTHER
  13. CANADA 1997 ELECTION
  14. VIRGINIA 1997 ELECTION
  15. PARTIES ON THE WWW (table)
  16. NEW YORK REGULATIONS
  17. OREGON PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION INITIATIVE
  18. BOOK REVIEW
  19. 1998 PETITIONING FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE (table)
  20. REFORM PARTY DISSIDENTS MEET
  21. COFOE RE-ORGANIZED
  22. THE GREENS/GREEN PARTY MEETING
  23. Subscription Information

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR VETOES SB 200

BILL WOULD HAVE VASTLY INCREASED PETITION REQUIREMENTS

On June 25, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge vetoed a bill which would have quadrupled statewide petition requirements in presidential years (to 99,000), and tripled them in midterm years (to 75,000). It would have doubled district office requirements. Also, the bill would have shrunk the petitioning period from almost six months, to three months. Finally, the bill would have provided that only a single candidate could be listed on any petition (current law lets a full slate of candidates be listed on a petition).

The bill, SB 200, originally had been introduced to increase the pay of polling place officials. The bill had no connection to ballot access, until June 11, when the Senate Rules Committee amended the bill to alter the ballot access laws. The Senate accepted the amendments by a vote of 47-1 (the lone dissenter was a Republican). The House, which had already passed the original bill, accepted the amended bill by a vote of 140-55. All the "No" votes there were cast by Democrats.

Between the time the ballot access amendments were first suggested, and the time the legislature passed the bill, only ten hours elapsed. There was no hearing, no publicity, and the bill passed at 1:30 a.m. on June 12. The only reason anyone outside the legislature even knew about the ballot access amendments, is that an employee of Pennsylvania's version of C-SPAN, filming the legislative session, contacted the Libertarian Party the next day. Pennsylvania's newspapers didn't learn about the amendments until June 15.

The struggle to persuade Governor Ridge to veto the bill was conducted over the next nine days. Many newspapers, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote editorials advocating that Ridge veto the bill.

Ralph Nader appeared on the Chuck Harder radio show on June 24 (heard on 300 stations) and gave out the Governor's phone number so that listeners could phone in their opinion to the Governor. Other radio talkshow hosts also helped. At least 330 people telephoned or faxed the Governor, asking for a veto, including Bill Scranton (1986 Republican nominee for Governor) and Congressman Ron Paul.

It is especially important to keep the Pennsylvania petition requirements from rising, since no Pennsylvania political party can avoid these petitions, unless it has registration membership of at least 15% of the statewide total. No party (other than the Democratic and Republican Parties) has held even 5% of any state's registration membership, since the 1910's decade. Since the 1910's decade, the highest registration for any minor party in any state was the 4.8% held by the American Labor Party in New York in the 1940's.

High petition requirements are intolerable when they must be repeated continually, election after election, with no hope of relief. There are two aspects to the election law of every state: how does a party get on the ballot, and how does it remain on? If the latter is severe, the former needs to be easy, to compensate.

Existing law says the number of signatures needed for statewide candidates is 2% of the highest winning candidate's vote in the previous year's election. Pennsylvania holds statewide partisan elections every year, and the turnout in odd year elections is low, so in even years, the number of signatures is lower than it would be otherwise. SB 200 changed the formula to 2% of the total vote cast for a particular office. This was especially deadly for presidential candidates, since presidential elections have the highest turnout of any election.

In 1993, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the state cannot require statewide minor party candidates in odd years to submit signatures based on the prior year's higher turnout elections, if it continues to give more favorable treatment to the even-year candidates. Proponents of SB 200 claimed that this decision (Patriot Party v Mitchell) forced them to pass the bill. However, this claim is spurious; there are many other ways to fix the discriminatory formula.

Why did the legislature pass the ballot access restrictions? There is speculation that U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (who must run for re-election next year, and who is pro-choice on the abortion issue), hoped to keep any minor party pro-life candidate out of his 1998 race. In 1992, a pro-life Libertarian nominee for U.S. Senator polled 219,319 votes, and Specter only won by 133,159 votes. Specter publicly praised the ballot access amendments in SB 200 on June 17.

Although Governor Ridge's veto was very good news, the text of the veto message was somewhat discouraging. The Governor wrote that he was vetoing the bill because it went too far. Nevertheless, he wrote "I agree that it is necessary and appropriate for the General Assembly to strike a proper balance between establishing reasonable rules regulating ballot access for minor parties and independent candidates... by requiring a minimal but significant showing of public support as a condition of according upon a party or candidate the privilege of a place on the ballot, the Commonwealth can best assure that the voters will be able to choose among only serious and viable candidates for public office. The exclusion from the ballot of frivolous candidates will also help to assure that the winner of the general election will receive a majority of the votes cast or, at least, a strong plurality of the votes."

The remark "assuring that the winner of the general election receive a majority of the votes cast" is troubling. It is not true that society suffers when a winner polls less than 50%.

There have been 44 presidential elections (excluding 1789-1820, when state legislators often choose presidential electors). In 17 of those elections (39%), no one received a majority of the popular vote. Yet, some of our best presidents were elected without a majority of the popular vote, and some of our worst presidents received landslides.

The December 15, 1996 New York Times ( 6, page 46) has a survey of historians, ranking the presidents. It lists George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt as "great" presidents. "Near-great" presidents are Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Harry Truman. The "failures" are Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses Grant, Warren Harding, Herbert Hoover, and Richard Nixon.

Half of the "near-great" presidents, James Polk, Woodrow Wilson, and Harry Truman, never polled as much as 50% of the popular vote.

By contrast, of the six "failure" presidents who were elected by popular vote, only one (James Buchanan) never polled a majority of the popular vote (two presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Richard Nixon, were elected twice and received over half of the popular vote once, but not twice).

There is a slight correlation between a president's success (as perceived by historians) and his failure to poll a majority of the popular vote. Furthermore, of the four presidents who polled over 60% of the popular vote since 1824, two of them are "failures". There seems to be no evidence for the idea that states should exclude parties from the ballot, just to ensure that the winner receives a majority. And for those who still feel that the winner always ought to receive a majority, they are always free to advocate preference voting, or general election run-offs.


FAULTY NEW HAMPSHIRE BILL SIGNED

(B.A.N. first reported on this bill in the February 10, 1997 issue.)

HB 417 passed the legislature on June 10 and was signed into law by Governor Jeanne Shaheen on June 19. However, as re-written by the conference committee, it does very little to help any minor party.

The bill was introduced at the request of the Libertarian and Reform Parties. It originally changed the definition of "party" from a group which polled 3% for Governor, to one which polled 3% for any statewide office (in New Hampshire, the only statewide races voted on are president, U.S. Senator and Governor). The Libertarian Party had polled over 4% for U.S. Senator in 1996; the Reform Party had polled over 9% for president; but neither had polled 3% for Governor. If the bill had passed as written, both would have been qualified.

The conference committee voted to provide that all qualified parties nominate by primary (the House version had provided that small qualified parties nominate by convention). The conference committee also raised the vote test from 3% to 4%. The two minor parties were willing to accept that change.

But then the conference committee voted to delete "president" from the list of offices whose vote can qualify a party. And, after the committee adjourned the official public hearing on the bill, and the public audience had gone home, the committee members informally consulted with each other to make another change: the bill would not take effect until January 1, 1999. Thus, even though the bill is now law, the Libertarian Party cannot be "qualified" for the 1998 election, even though it met the new vote test in November 1996.

Setting the effective date for a liberalizing change in ballot access law that far into the future is unprecedented. In the past, when states have eased the definition of "party", they have always provided that it should go into effect in time to be used for the next election.

The Libertarian Party may sue for recognition for the 1998 election.


PARTIAL NEW JERSEY WIN

(See also this update.)

On June 17, U.S. District Court Judge Mary L. Perrel, a Bush appointee, refused to grant an injunction against the April petition deadline for minor party and independent candidate petitions (for office other than president). However, she wrote that the deadline is probably unconstitutional, and that she is likely to declare it void at a later stage in the lawsuit. Council of Alternative Political Parties v Hooks, cv97-1966. She said she would not grant an injunction (which would have enabled some additional minor party candidates to appear on the ballot in this year's state elections) because it would be a hardship on the state. The ACLU, which brought the lawsuit, has asked the 3rd Circuit to grant an injunction.

The case has illuminated a side point about New Jersey petitioning. The Secretary of State has always led candidates to believe that it is illegal for them to begin petitioning before January 1 of any election year, but the Attorney General's briefs say that a candidate may begin as early as he wishes. Although the state petition forms aren't available until January, the brief says anyone is free to prepare his or her own petition.


MAINE GREEN PARTY

(B.A.N. first reported on this bill in the March 10, 1997 issue.)

LD 1376, which had passed the Maine Senate on May 30 by a voice vote, never received a vote in the House, and the legislature adjourned.

The bill would have put the Green Party back on the ballot, by providing that the 5% vote test need only be met every four years, not every two years. The party polled over 5% for Governor in 1994 but did not poll as much as that for president in 1996.

(See also this update.)

However, the Green Party has a strong legal claim that even under the existing law (which is very unclear), it is still qualified. A hearing in the State Supreme Court on this question was held on June 16 (Maine Green Party v Secretary of State, no. fed-97-120), and most justices seemed to be leaning in favor of construing the law favorably to the Green Party. A decision is expected by September.


HAWAII BILL SIGNED

(B.A.N. first reported on this bill in the February 10, 1997 issue.)

On June 21, Hawaii Governor Benjamin Cayetano signed SB 1064 into law. It puts the Green Party back on the ballot by somewhat liberalizing the test for how a party remains on the ballot. It also requires petitions for new parties, and petitions for candidates, to include the birthday of each signer.


OREGON BILL SIGNED

(B.A.N. first reported on this bill in the February 2, 1997 issue.)

HB 2203 was signed into law by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber on June 10. It raises the number of registered members a party needs to retain its place on the ballot, from approximately 900 (one-twentieth of 1% of the number of registered voters), to 1,219 (one-tenth of 1% of the 1994 gubernatorial vote). The bill doesn't change the 1% vote test, which must also be met.


LOUISIANA PRIMARIES

(B.A.N. first reported on SB 1010 in the June 2, 1997 issue.)

Senator John Dardenne has withdrawn SB 1010, which would have restored party primaries to Louisiana, since he has learned that it would not pass.

SB 356, which would have abolished the state's presidential primary, passed the Senate on May 27 but was killed by the House on May 29.


NORTH CAROLINA BILL PENDING

(See also this update.)

SB 573, which passed the Senate in May, will probably be voted on in the House in the next two weeks. It changes the petition deadline for new party petitions to July, lets voters register as members of unqualified parties, and eliminates wording on petitions saying signers "represent" the party.


CALIFORNIA TERM LIMITS

(See also this update.)

The 9th circuit will hold a hearing on August 6 in San Francisco in the case over legislative term limits, Bates v Jones, 97-15864. The 9th circuit releases the names of judges one week before the hearing, so the identity of the panel in this case will be public knowledge on July 30. The lower court had ruled that the U.S. Constitution bars state legislative term limits if they are lifetime bans.


FLORIDA COURT RULES IN REFORM PARTY DISPUTE

On May 9, a Florida state judge ruled that once an unqualified political party files a list of its state officers with the Secretary of State, those state officers have the power to prevent anyone else from setting up a county committee of the same group, unless the state officers give their consent. Owenby v Johnson, 97-1333-CA, Duval County.

Carl Owenby, state chair of the Reform Party (which is not qualified for the Florida ballot), filed the lawsuit against Howard L. Johnson, who had set up a Duval County Committee of the Reform Party and registered with the Duval County Elections Division, without obtaining permission from Owenby. The Florida election law doesn't mention procedures for anyone to file as the county unit of an unqualified party.

Johnson had cited Riddell v National Democratic Party. In that case, the 5th circuit held in 1975 that the legally recognized Democratic Party of Mississippi (which was dominated by segregationists) could not force the other Democratic Party faction in Mississippi (the Freedom Democratic Party) to refrain from using the word "Democratic". However, the Florida judge in the Reform Party case differentiated the Mississippi situation from the Florida situation, by pointing out that in Mississippi, the national Democratic Party supported the Freedom Democrats, whereas in this case, there is as yet no recognized national Reform Party. The Federal Election Commission has never granted "national committee" status to the Reform Party.


OTHER LAWSUIT NEWS

1. Florida: the Libertarian Party has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its case against Florida's filing fee distribution law. Libertarian Party of Florida v Smith, 96-1867. When Democrats and Republicans pay a filing fee (which is over $8,000 for Congress), over half the fee is refunded back to the Democratic or Republican Parties. When the candidate of any other party pays the fee, the government keeps it all.

2. Colorado: there is still no 10th circuit decision in American Constitutional Law Foundation v Buckley, 94-1581, even though the hearing was held on November 13, 1995, 20 months ago. The case concerns restrictions on petitioning.

3. Georgia: on June 11, the 11th circuit ruled that the lawsuit Natural Law Party v Massey, 96-9240, is moot. The case had been filed in 1996. It charged that the Georgia Secretary of State violated due process by issuing instructions on how to get a new party on the ballot, by failing to reveal that if any notary public who notarizes even one petition sheet also becomes a petition circulator, all of the petition sheets notarized by that notary are invalid.

4. Louisiana: on May 16, U.S. District Court Judge Marcel Livaudais ruled that Louisiana may not require voters to list their Social Security numbers on voter registration forms. McKay v Altobello, 96-3458, E.D.). He cited the federal Privacy Act, which forbids states from requiring social security numbers unless the state was already doing so before 1974.

5. Nebraska: (See also this update.) the 8th circuit held a hearing in Bernbeck v Moore, no. 96-3503, on May 20, before Judges Theodore McMillan (a Carter appointee), Donald Ross (Nixon) and George Fagg (Reagan). The issue is Nebraska's ban on out-of-state petitioners for initiatives. The lower court had invalidated the law. The hearing went well for U.S. Term Limits, which had filed the lawsuit.

6. New Mexico: the lawsuit Green Party of New Mexico v Gonzales, 96cv-439, was voluntarily dismissed by the Green Party on May 20. The case had been filed to overturn New Mexico's ban on "fusion", but the case was considered hopeless, due to the unfavorable U.S. Supreme Court Minnesota fusion opinion on April 28.

7. Wyoming: on May 28, the 10th circuit denied a rehearing to the Labor Party in its lawsuit against the June 1 petition deadline for new party petitions. Spiegel v State of Wyoming, 96-8068.


POLITICAL SCIENTISTS BATTLE EACH OTHER

(See also this update.)

Even though there are many lawsuits over the constitutionality of election laws, it is rare for political science professors to testify in such lawsuits. However, the California lawsuit over the state's new blanket primary law (California Democratic Party v Jones) is an exception.

Four political parties filed a lawsuit last November, alleging that the new primary law, which permits non-members to vote in party primaries, violate the First Amendment associational rights of political parties. The trial begins on July 29. Written testimony has already been submitted by at least eight political science professors. For the parties are Bruce E. Cain of U.C. Berkeley, Martin P. Wattenberg of U.C. Irvine, and Ed Costantini of U.S. Davis. For the new primary law and the state of California are David J. Olson of the University of Washington at Seattle, Jonathan Nagler of U.C. Riverside, Elisabeth R. Gerber of U.C. San Diego, Eugene C. Lee of U.C. Berkeley (retired), and R. Michael Alvarez of the California Institute of Technology.


CANADA 1997 ELECTION

The May 1997 Canadian election produced a Parliament with substantial representation by five political parties, even though Canada does not use proportional representation. The final results: Liberal 155, Reform 60, Bloc Quebecois 44, New Democratic 21, Progressive Conservative 20, independent one.

The share of the popular vote that each party received is: Liberal 38.5%, Reform 19.1%, Progressive Conservative 19.1%, New Democratic 11.0%, Bloc Quebecois 10.8%.


VIRGINIA 1997 ELECTION

Virginia elects its statewide constitutional officers this year, as well as its legislature. The official candidate list will not be released until July 11, but it is known that the Reform, Libertarian and Green Parties have candidates. A more complete list will be provided in the next issue.


PARTIES ON THE WWW

(See also this update.)

Below are world wide web addresses for political parties which had a presidential candidate of their own in 1996 ("http://" should be placed in front of all addresses):

See this note about tables.

Democratic: http://www.democrats.org/
Republican: http://www.rnc.org/
Reform: http://www.reformparty.org/
Green: http://www.greenparties.org/
Libertarian: http://www.lp.org/
US Taxpayers: http://www.ustaxpayers.org/
Natural Law: www.natural-law.org/nlpusa
Workers World: http://www.workers.org/
Peace and Freedom: gate.cruzio.com/~pfparty/
Grassroots: www.visi.com/~grp
Socialist: socialist.org
Socialist Equality: www.rust.net/~laborpub Moved to http://www.socialequality.com/
Independent Grassroots: www.visi.com/~coffee/ig/index.html (Not functional 7/26/97)

The New Jersey Conservative Party did not have a presidential candidate, but its web page is noteworthy; it has over 300 pages and is at http://www.njconservativeparty.com/


NEW YORK REGULATIONS

Last year, the New York legislature repealed many provisions which make petitioning difficult. The State Board of Elections recently issued regulations to take account of the new law. There had been some fear that the new regulations would partially nullify the legislative gains. However, the new regulations are beneficial.

The regulations provide that the cover sheet should designate the name, address and telephone number of the person who is to be notified in case a deficiency in the petition is noted. The regulations also provide that if the Board tentatively rejects the petition (pending a hearing), precise information about the petition flaws will promptly be faxed or otherwise sent to the person named on the cover sheet, so he or she can get ready for the hearing in plenty of time.


OREGON PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION INITIATIVE

Leaders of the Socialist, Green and Libertarian Parties of Oregon are circulating an initiative to provide for proportional representation for the Oregon legislature (lower house only). The initiative calls for a party-list system. Any party polling at least 3% of the vote, would get at least 3% of the seats in the Assembly. For more information, contact Nan Perigo, 330 SE Park Ave., Corvallis Or 97333, (541)-758-0353; nperigo@willamette.edu The initiative needs about 98,000 signatures and is due in August 1998.


BOOK REVIEW

DEMOCRACY UNBOUND: PROGRESSIVE CHALLENGES TO THE TWO PARTY SYSTEM, by David Reynolds. South End Press, 116 St. Botolph St., Boston MA 02115, tel. (617)-266-0629, fax (617)-266-1595. $20 for paperback, $40 for hardcover. 369 pages.

David Reynolds teaches Labor Studies at Wayne State University, and worked in the Jesse Jackson campaign for the Democratic nomination in 1988. He is currently a member of the New Party, the Labor Party, and the National Committee for Independent Political Action.

The book is intended primarily for people who share the author's politics. Reynolds wants his audience to be aware of "left" electoral activity, whether it is inside Democratic primaries, or through minor party and independent candidate activity. He has descriptive chapters on the LEAP movement in Connecticut (which elected its members to the legislature, as Democrats); the Progressive Coalition in Vermont (the only minor party which holds any state legislative seats today); the New Party and its most successful units, Progressive Milwaukee and Progressive Dane, both in Wisconsin; the Labor Party; and the Green Party. It is difficult to find any up-to-date book which discusses these movements, and Democracy Unbound fills a need. It includes a directory of addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses for the groups described.


1998 PETITIONING FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE (table)

See this note about tables.

STATE REQUIREMENTS SIGNATURES COLLECTED DEADLINE
FULL PARTY CAND. REFORM LIB'T NAT LAW TAXPAYR GREEN
Alabama 35,973 35,973 0 0 0 0 0 Jun 29
Alaska (reg.) 6,403 #2,453 0 *finished 0 0 already on June 1
Arizona est. (reg.) 15,000 est #8,000 already on already on 0 0 3,000 May 16
Arkansas 26,528 10,000 already on 0 0 0 0 May 4
California (reg) 89,007 156,621 already on already on already on already on already on Dec 31, '97
Colorado no procedure #1,000 0 0 0 0 0 Jul 14
Connecticut no procedure #7,500 0 0 0 already on 0 Aug 7
Delaware est. (reg.) 200 4,000 already on already on already on already on 20 Aug 22
D.C. no procedure #3,000 can't start can't start can't start can't start can't start Aug 26
Florida 242,337 242,337 can't start can't start can't start can't start can't start Jul 14
Georgia 38,113 #38,113 already on already on *0 *0 0 Jul 14
Hawaii 5,450 25 0 *500 0 0 already on Apr 2
Idaho 9,835 1,000 already on already on already on already on 0 Aug 31
Illinois no procedure #25,000 already on can't start can't start can't start can't start Aug 3
Indiana no procedure #29,822 0 already on 0 0 0 Jul 15
Iowa no procedure #1,500 already on 0 0 0 0 Aug 14
Kansas 16,418 5,000 already on already on 0 0 0 Jun 1
Kentucky no procedure #5,000 disputed 0 0 0 0 Aug 27
Louisiana est. (reg) 128,000 0 already on 400 10 10 50 Jul 1
Maine 30,288 #4,000 already on 0 0 0 in court Dec 12, '97
Maryland (10,000) est. 78,000 0 0 0 0 0 Aug 3
Massachusetts est. (reg) 32,000 #10,000 already on can't start can't start can't start can't start Aug 18
Michigan 30,891 30,891 already on already on 0 0 0 Jul 16
Minnesota 109,487 #2,000 already on 0 0 0 0 Jun 1
Mississippi just be org. #1,000 already on already on already on already on 0 Apr 3
Missouri 10,000 10,000 already on already on 0 already on 0 Jul 27
Montana 16,039 #10,097 already on already on already on 0 0 Mar 12
Nebraska 5,741 2,000 already on 0 0 0 0 Aug 1
Nevada 4,498 4,498 already on already on already on already on already on Jul 9
New Hampshire 14,901 #3,000 0 0 0 0 0 Aug 5
New Jersey no procedure #800 *0 *0 *0 *0 *0 *in court
New Mexico (2,781) 14,029 already on already on 0 0 already on Apr 7
New York no procedure #15,000 already on can't start can't start can't start can't start Aug 18
North Carolina 51,324 est. 82,000 0 *already on 0 0 0 May 18
North Dakota 7,000 1,000 already on 0 0 0 0 Apr 3
Ohio 45,345 5,000 already on 0 *400 0 0 Jan 5
Oklahoma 60,336 0 already on 0 0 0 0 Jun 1
Oregon 18,282 13,292 already on already on already on 0 already on Aug 25
Pennsylvania no procedure est. #25,000 can't start can't start can't start can't start can't start Aug 3
Rhode Island 18,069 #1,000 0 0 0 0 0 Aug 1
South Carolina 10,000 10,000 already on already on already on already on 0 May 3
South Dakota 7,792 #3,117 0 already on 0 0 0 Apr 7
Tennessee 37,179 25 *8,300 0 0 0 0 Apr 8
Texas 43,963 43,963 can't start already on can't start can't start can't start May 24
Utah 2,000 #300 already on already on already on already on 550 Feb 15
Vermont just be org. #1,000 already on already on already on 0 already on Sep 17
Virginia no procedure est. 15,500 already on can't start can't start can't start can't start in court
Washington no procedure #200 already on can't start can't start can't start can't start Jul 3
West Virginia no procedure #5,957 0 already on 0 0 0 May 11
Wisconsin 10,000 #2,000 already on already on 0 already on already on Jun 1
Wyoming 8,000 10,500 0 already on 0 0 *200 Jun 1
TOTAL STATES ON 31 *23 10 10 8

"FULL PARTY REQ." means a new party can qualify before it names candidates; () means party must also do candidate petitions. #candidate procedure lets candidate use a party label. "Deadline" refers to "full party procedure"; if state lacks one, it refers to candidate petition. * -- entry changed since last issue. Alaska Libertarian entry is petition for US Senate.


REFORM PARTY DISSIDENTS MEET

For some time, some Reform Party activists have not acknowledged the legitimacy of the Reform Party National Organizing Committee, whose officers were elected in January 1997 at a national meeting. Although all factions of the party participated in the Nashville meeting, there were credentials disputes and perceptions of broken promises, and some activists walked out.

The dissident group organized itself as the National Reform Party Steering Committee. It held a national meeting June 27-28 in Alexandria, Virginia, which was attended by people from California, Delaware, D.C., Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia. The group discussed four options: (1) to disband; (2) to form a new party with a new name; (3) to accept the leadership of the National Organizing Committee and to work for more internal democracy in the party; (4) to work to become the acknowledged National Committee of the Reform Party, by ignoring the National Organizing Committee and bringing the bulk of the party's leaders into the Steering Committee. The fourth option was overwhelmingly preferred.

Russ Verney, chair of the National Organizing Committee, made a surprise visit to the meeting, and was permitted to speak and to answer questions. However, he was not conciliatory and his words did not appear to move any participants toward a rapprochement.

The legal position of the Steering Committee is weak, since presently no ballot-qualified state unit of the Reform Party has formally disaffiliated itself from the National Organizing Committee.

N. Bradley Litchfield, assistant general counsel to the Federal Election Commission, addressed the group on Friday evening. Back in November 1996, the Steering Committee had asked the FEC to recognize it as the Reform Party national committee, but the FEC had rejected the request.

Litchfield was unable to give the group much hope that the decision could be reversed. The FEC is understaffed and has little inclination to carry on an investigation of which of two competing groups should be recognized as the National Committee of any party.

Nevertheless, on Saturday, the group voted to change its name to the Reform Party National Committee, to change its bylaws from "tentative" to "permanent", to make it easier for other state groups to affiliate with it, and to call a national convention sometime before October 15, probably in the Chicago area.

In the meantime, the National Organizing Committee has tentatively called a national convention for Kansas City on October 31 to November 2.


COFOE RE-ORGANIZED

Pat Cummings, former state chair of the Maryland Reform Party, on her own initiative, called a meeting of leaders of the nationally-organized political parties for May 10, at which a discussion of common problems was conducted. A second meeting of the same group was held in Tysons Corners, Virginia, on June 27. At that meeting, a decision was made to carry on work as the Coalition for Free and Open Elections (COFOE), which has existed since 1985 but which has been inactive lately.

Each political party and other organization which wishes to participate, will name a member of the COFOE Board, which will meet in the Washington, D.C. area on a regular basis. The next meeting will be September 13. For more information, contact Pat Cummings, (301)-840-0921, 9211 Warfield Rd., Gaithersburg Md 20882. E-mail: patcumming@aol.com.


THE GREENS/GREEN PARTY MEETING

There will be a national gathering of The Greens/Green Party USA August 27 to September 1 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. For more information, call the Massachusetts Greens at (508)-688-2068. E-mail: massgreens@igc.apc.org


Ballot Access News. is published by and copyright by Richard Winger ban@igc.apc.org. Note: subscriptions are available!
Go back to the index.
Compilation copyright (c) 1997 Bob Bickford