Ballot Access News -- August 4, 1997

Volume 13, Number 5

This issue was originally printed on white paper.

Table of Contents
  22. Subscription Information



On July 21, the 3rd circuit issued an injunction forbidding New Jersey from using its April petition deadline for minor party and independent candidates in the 1997 elections. On July 28, the 10th circuit struck down three Colorado laws which inhibit petitioning in that state.

July 1997 thus marks the first ballot access victories in any U.S. Courts of Appeal since June 3, 1996, when the 5th circuit ruled that independent candidates in Texas need not list the voter registration affidavit number of every voter on petitions. (Also, the 3rd circuit had overturned the Pennsylvania fusion ban on September 9, 1996, but that decision doesn't have much meaning because the U.S. Supreme Court upheld fusion bans earlier this year).

New Jersey

(B.A.N. first reported on this suit in the May 5, 1997 issue.)

In Council of Alternative Political Parties v Hooks, the 3rd circuit voted 2-1 that an injunction should be issued to permit minor party candidates until July 28 to complete their petitions. New Jersey votes for Governor and state legislature in November 1997. Voting to grant the injunction were Judges Walter Stapleton, a Reagan appointee, and Theodore McKee, a Clinton appointee. Judge Anthony Scirica, another Reagan appointee, dissented and said that he doesn't believe the April petition deadline is unconstitutional.

Since one of the bases for granting the injunction was the majority's belief that the deadline is unconstitutional, it is now extremely likely that the deadline will be held unconstitutional, when further proceedings are held in the case.

The lower court had refused to issue the injunction. The case had been brought by the ACLU of New Jersey on behalf of the Conservative, Green, Libertarian, Natural Law and U.S. Taxpayers Parties.

Between 1891 and 1931, New Jersey had a September petition deadline for all minor party and independent candidates. In 1931 the deadline was moved to May. Later, it was moved even earlier, to April. In 1984 the April petition deadline, as applied to presidential candidates, was thrown out (LaRouche v Burgio), so the deadline was moved to late July, but only for presidential candidates. It is likely that in the future, the deadline will be late July for all minor party and independent candidate petitions.


(B.A.N. first reported on this suit in the May 3, 1994 issue.)

The 10th circuit invalidated three Colorado laws which relate to petitioning: (1) a law that said only registered voters may circulate petitions; (2) a law that required initiative petitioners to wear badges which said in large type the name of the circulator, and the name and telephone number of anyone who employed the petitioner; (3) a law that required anyone who employees a petition circulator to submit monthly reports to the Secretary of State, detailing the name, address, and amount of wages paid to each petition circulator. American Constitutional Law Foundation v Meyer, 94-1576. The decision was written by Judge Mary Beck Briscoe and co-signed by Judge Carlos Lucero. Both are Clinton appointees. The third judge who heard the case, Oliver Seth, died before the opinion came out. Twenty-one months elapsed between the hearing and the release of this opinion.

The lower court had struck down the two latter laws, but had upheld the law which required petition circulators to be registered voters. Other laws challenged in the lawsuit were upheld by both courts: a law requiring petitioners to be at least 18 years old; a law requiring all initiative petitions to be completed within six months; and a law requiring petitioners to sign each petition sheet.

The 10th circuit decision, striking down the law that only registered voters may circulate petitions, will be a useful precedent in other jurisdictions with even stricter requirements. For example, West Virginia requires all petitioners to be credentialed before they can circulate a petition. Virginia says that petitioners for a statewide petition must live in the congressional district in which they are circulating the petition, or in a neighboring district.

The 10th circuit's reasoning, in striking down the ban on unregistered petitioners, is that circulating a petition is free speech activity, and that the state has no good reason for forbidding unregistered adults from participating in this expressive activity. The opinion cites the state's own estimate that there are 400,000 unregistered adults living in Colorado. The court's reasoning for striking down the requirement that petitioners wear badges identifying themselves is that "Circulating a petition is akin to distributing a handbill. In both instances, an individual identifies himself or herself with a specific viewpoint by personally disseminating it. Just as those who distribute handbills have a strong interest in remaining anonymous, so do circulators".


(B.A.N. first reported on this suit in the May 5, 1997 issue.)

On August 1, the Maine Supreme Court interpreted Maine's election law to mean that a party must poll 5% every two years, not every four years, for the office at the top of the ballot. Maine Green Party v Secretary of State, fed-97-120.

Since the Green Party polled over 5% for Governor in 1994, but less than 5% for President in 1996, under Maine law, it is no longer qualified. It now returns to federal court to argue that the law is unconstitutional. While that case is pending, the state will leave the party on the ballot.


(B.A.N. first reported on this suit in the September 9, 1996 issue.)

On July 16, U.S. District Court Judge Julie E. Carnes, a Bush appointee, upheld Georgia's 5% (of the number of registered voters) petition requirements for U.S. House of Representatives, even for parties which are automatically qualified for the statewide ballot. She refused even to permit any evidence to be introduced. Amendola v Miller, 1:96-cv-2103-JEC. The Libertarian Party, which brought the lawsuit, plans to appeal.

No minor party candidate has apppeared on the Georgia ballot for U.S. House of Representatives in the entire history of the 5% law, which has existed since 1943. No independent candidate for that office has managed to qualify since 1982. The U.S. Supreme Court has twice said that when a ballot access law is seldom used, it is probably unconstitutional. It has also said that "there is no litmus test" to determine whether a ballot access is constitutional, that it is necessary to look at the facts. Judge Carnes didn't mention those decisions. All she said was that since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Georgia's 5% petition in 1971 in Jenness v Fortson, it is not necessary to look any further.

Evidence presented to the U.S. Supreme Court in Jenness v Fortson was that two statewide 5% petitions had succeeded in the four years before that lawsuit was filed, so the U.S. Supreme Court said at the time that it didn't feel that a 5% petition is that difficult. One of those successful petitions had been carried out by George Wallace, who was so popular as a third party candidate in 1968 that he carried Georgia. The other petition was filed by the Republican candidate for Governor in 1966, Bo Calloway (the Republican Party was a qualified party in Georgia, but under the law it was required to either hold a primary and pay for it, or complete the petition). No other group, before or since, ever completed the 5% petition in Georgia for statewide office, but this evidence was not presented to the Supreme Court in 1971, and Judge Carnes refuses to look at new evidence.

Judge Carnes also failed to mention Bergland v Harris, an 11th circuit opinion in 1985 which said that Jenness v Fortson doesn't necessarily mean that Georgia's ballot access should still be considered acceptable. Georgia had lowered its 5% petition to 2.5% in 1979, for statewide office; and the 11th circuit said that even 2.5% might be too difficult, at least for president, and ordered a trial to be held. Instead, Georgia lowered its statewide petition requirement to 1%. But it never changed the 5% for district office and county office.

Judge Carnes also repeated the language from Jenness that says a 5% petition doesn't discriminate against minor parties, since Democrats and Republicans must win a primary in order to be on the general election ballot. Yet, in 1996, two-thirds of the Democratic and Republican nominees for the U.S. House in Georgia had no primary opponent.


(B.A.N. first reported on this case in the June 26, 1996 issue.)

On July 1, the 4th circuit ruled that there must be a trial to determine whether Virginia's June petition deadline (for minor party and independent candidates other than president) is constitutional or not. Wood v Meadows, 96-1832. The lower court had invalidated the deadline, but the 4th circuit wants more evidence.

Even though the nation's leading minor parties are generally able to get their presidential candidates on the Virginia ballot, they never succeed in getting U.S. Senate candidates on the Virginia ballot, even in presidential years, because the presidential petitions aren't due until late August, and the U.S. Senate petitions are due in early June. It would be a significant victory if the petition deadlines for both offices were in August.

Donations for the case are urgently needed, since trials involve many more expenses than other lawsuit activity. Send anything, even small amounts, to the plaintiff's attorney, Matt Pethybridge, 200 N. Main St., #201, Blacksburg Va 24060. Make the check out to Matthew Pethybridge and earmark it for the Wood case. It is expected that COFOE will donate to the lawsuit.


On July 11, the Massachusetts Supreme Court invalidated term limits for all state office. League of Women Voters v Secretary of the Commonwealth, SJC-07394.

Massachusetts initiatives to change the state constitution require that, after the petition is submitted, the legislature must consider it. An earlier initiative to change the Constitution to impose term limits for state office was submitted, but the legislature disobeyed the Constitution and refused to consider the measure, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. The courts declined to order the legislature to follow the constitution, under principles of separation of powers. As the Court said, "When the legislature fails to act in joint session on a proposed initiative to amend the Constitution, the only remedy may come from the influence of public opinion, expressed ultimately at the ballot box."

Therefore, U.S. Term Limits did a whole new initiative, to amend the election law, not the Constitution. Initiatives to amend laws are not at the mercy of legislative action. The new initiative, passed by the voters in 1994, said that any incumbent who had already had a certain number of terms for state office (the number of terms depended on the office), could not be placed on the ballot, although he or she could be a write-in candidate. Also, the initiative provided that no salary could be paid to anyone elected after that certain number of terms.

However, the State Supreme Court ruled that these measures are only term limits in disguise, and that a mere election law change is insufficient to impose term limits.


(B.A.N. first reported on this case in the November 16, 1995 issue.)

The Libertarian Party has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Libertarian Party v Rednour, 97-25, over whether Illinois may require petitions signed by 5% of the last vote cast for U.S. House of Representatives candidates, for a party which is ballot-qualified for statewide office. The Court won't say whether it will hear the case until October.


(B.A.N. first reported on this case in the August 24, 1995 issue.)

There will be a hearing in the 9th circuit on August 6, on whether the U.S. Constitution prohibits lifetime term limits for state legislators. Bates v Jones, 97-15864. The judges are Betty Fletcher, Stephen Reinhardt and Joseph Sneed. Fletcher and Reinhardt are Carter appointees; Sneed is a Nixon appointee. The panel will probably vote 2-1 to invalidate California's lifetime term limits for state legislators.

Of course, if that happens, U.S. Term Limits will appeal for an en banc hearing, and if that doesn't work, will ask for U.S. Supreme Court review. Other federal courts have always upheld the constitutionality of state term limits.


1. Alaska: On July 31, an amended complaint was filed in Ross v State of Alaska, the case in federal court over Alaska's blanket primary law. Although the Alaska Supreme Court upheld the law, no evidence was ever filed in that earlier case, called O'Callaghan v Ulmer. Plaintiffs in the new case are now the Republican, Alaska Independence, and Libertarian Parties. (B.A.N. first reported on O'Callaghan v Ulmer in the September 21, 1995 issue, and first reported on Ross v State of Alaska in the May 4, 1995 issue.)

2. California: on July 28-31, a trial was held in federal court in Sacramento over California's blanket primary law. Calif. Democratic Party v Jones, 5-96-2038. Each side presented political scientists. Experts for the political parties said that both major and minor parties will be injured if the state lets members of other parties help select their candidates; experts for the state said that major parties in Washington state (which has a blanket primary) are not harmed (little was said about Alaska, the other blanket primary state). There will be another hearing for arguments in early October, and a decision is expected by late October. (B.A.N. first reported on this case in the December 12, 1996 issue.)

California (2): on December 23, 1996, a U.S. District Court in San Diego issued an injunction against a regulation which prohibited leafletting and petitioning at the San Diego airport. Springfield v San Diego Unified Port District, 96-1669-BTM.

3. Kentucky: On July 25, the Republican Party filed a lawsuit in federal court against Kentucky law which doesn't permit a voter to change parties between elections. Republican Party of Kentucky v Patton, 97-55, eastern district. In the past, Kentucky has always had state or federal elections every year, but this is no longer the case, and under current law, a voter who voted in the Democratic primary in 1996 is unable to vote in the Republican primary in 1998, a two-year waiting period. The party argues this is too long. A 1973 U.S. Supreme Court precedent from Illinois, Kusper v Pontikes, virtually guarantees that the Kentucky lawsuit will win.

4. federal law: on June 6, the First Circuit struck down two Federal Election Commission regulations which concern voter guides (publications which describe how members of Congress voted) published by nonprofit corporations. Thrown out were (1) a rule that the people who prepare the voter guide must not have any oral communication (about the guide) with any federal candidates; (2) a rule that requires equal prominence and space for each candidate in a voter guide. Clifton v FEC, 114 F 3d 1309.

5. federal law: on May 7, the Eighth Circuit struck down a Federal Election Commission regulation which prohibits independent campaign expenditures by any organization which carries on any business activities. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life v FEC, 113 F 3d 129 (1997).


The only nation in Europe which has never used proportional representation in its national elections is Great Britain. However, on July 15, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that he supports using some form of proportional representation for 1999 elections to elect Britain's representatives to the European Parliament.

In addition, his government plans to create a legislative body for Scotland, and Scottish political leaders have announced that they expect to use p.r. for elections to that proposed body.


1. Maryland: Secretary of State John T. Willis and his committee to study revision of the election laws have decided to support easing ballot access for minor party and independent candidates next year. A bill to improve ballot access laws this year passed the Senate and only lost in the House by one vote, so it is hoped that Willis' support next year will put the bill across.

2. Massachusetts: H 1685, which would have made it easier for a small qualified party to nominate candidates, died June 10 in Committee. H 2090, which would force an unqualified party to start all over in its registration drive after two years, has not yet received a vote on the House floor, but it could come up at any time. (B.A.N. first reported on H 1685 and on H 2090 in the March 10, 1997 issue.)

3. North Carolina: SB 573, which passed the Senate in May, will probably be voted on in the House during August. 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. (B.A.N. first reported on this bill in the May 5, 1997 issue.)

4. Ohio: the Secretary of State has written another omnibus election law bill, HB 495. Among other things, it ameliorates the "sore loser" law, so that in the future, someone who loses a partisan primary will not then be barred from running for a totally different non-partisan office in the general election.

5. Pennsylvania: activists have found a legislator who will introduce a bill next month to improve ballot access for minor parties and independent candidates, but they do not wish to reveal his or her name yet. For more information, contact Tom Linzey at (717)-530-0931.


The Federal Election Commission has published Federal Elections 96, a free 167 page book which gives the official vote for all candidates for federal office, in the primaries and the general election of 1996. To obtain a copy, call the FEC at (800)-424-9530 and ask for the disclosure section.


Mexico's ballot access law, used in the July 6 congressional election, requires new parties to submit lists of party members of .13% of the total number of registered voters (about 50,000 members). Also, the members must be distributed around the nation. The party must have either 3,000 members in each of ten states, or at least 300 members in at least 100 of the nation's 300 congressional districts.

A party remains on the ballot if it polls at least 2% of the vote. The vote test can be met by its presidential candidate, its senate candidates, or its candidates for the lower house of Congress.

For 1997, eight parties qualified: Institutional Revolutionary (PRI), Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), National Action (PAN), Green (PVEM), Workers (PT), Popular Socialist (PPS), Mexican Democratic (PDM), and the Cardenista Party (PC)(the Cardenista Party has nothing to do with Mexico City's Mayor-elect Cuahtemoc Cardenas).

Three of these parties have the reputation of being puppets of the long-dominant PRI: the Workers, Cardenista, and Popular Socialist Parties. However, the Workers Party has since declared its independence. Those other two parties failed to poll 2%; also the Mexican Democratic Party failed to poll 2%; so Mexico now has five qualified parties.

The new lower house of Congress has: PRI 240, PRD 122, PAN 120, Green 11, Workers 7. Mexico thus resembles Canada; each nation has five parties represented in the lower legislative body. The last time there were five parties represented in the U.S. House of Representatives was the period 1914-1918.

Mexico elected 300 single-member districts, and filled the other 200 seats by proportional representation. If it weren't for the proportional representation seats, the Green Party would not have any members, and the Workers Party would only have one.

The new Senate has PRI 77, PAN 33, PRD 16, Workers 1, Green 1.


(See also this update.)

In a few months, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Arkansas Educational TV Commission v Forbes, 96-779, over whether public TV stations may sponsor candidates debates and invite only the Democratic and Republican candidates. The case has attracted thirteen amici curiae briefs, six on Arkansas's side, seven on the candidate's side.

Supporting Ralph Forbes, the independent candidate for the U.S. House in 1992 who sued to get into the debate, are:

  1. ACLU
  2. Brennan Center for Justice
  3. Eugene McCarthy
  4. The Greens/Green Party USA
  5. Natural Law Party
  6. Pacific Legal Foundation
  7. Perot '96 Committee

Supporting Arkansas Educational TV are:

  1. Assn of Amer. Public TV Stations
  2. Commission on Pres. Debates
  3. The Federal Communications Commission
  4. California (the brief is also signed by the Attorneys General of 18 other states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Vermont and Wyoming)
  5. New Jersey
  6. New York City

The brief of the FCC somewhat huffily declares that courts have no business adjudicating this issue, because the FCC holds itself out as the protector of fairness in this issue (Forbes didn't ask the FCC to interevene, before he went to court). Of course, it is the FCC which let network TV give free time to Bob Dole and Bill Clinton last year, under the guise that a grant of free time to these candidates is "news"; no other presidential candidates, not even Ross Perot, got any free network time.

The brief filed by California argues that public broadcast stations should have as much right to broadcast what they wish, as private TV stations.

The briefs filed by New Jersey and New York city point out that both jurisdictions provide by law that candidates who raise a certain amount of money are entitled to be invited into debates sponsored by public TV, and if the theory that any candidate on the ballot is entitled to be invited, their system would be disrupted.

The amici on Forbes' side stress that Arkansas Educational TV did not even have objective criteria for deciding whom to invite. Especially telling is the discovery highlighted in the Perot '96 amici, that Forbes actually raised more money than one of the Republican U.S. House candidates in 1992... yet Arkansas Educational TV invited all Republicans (in all districts) into debates, and ignored Forbes, who was the only non-Republican, non-Democratic candidate on the ballot for Congress in the entire state.


Any New Jersey gubernatorial candidate who raises $210,000 will be in the debates. No one but Democratic and Republican nominees has ever before qualified, but this year two minor party candidates (Conservative Richard Pezzullo and Libertarian Murray Sabrin) are working to qualify. The deadline is August 31.


The tally for president, November 1996 election, continues to grow. Delaware reports 18 for Ralph Nader. Pennsylvania write-ins (for candidates other than Nader): Charles Collins (indp.) 51, Monica Moorehead (Workers World) 10, Mary Hollis (Socialist) 8, James Harris (Socialist Workers) 4, Earl Dodge (Prohibition) 2.


The last B.A.N. listed web addresses for parties which had a presidential candidate in 1996, and included the Association of State Green Parties. Omitted was The Greens/Green Party USA:

The Association of State Green Parties has a new publication, Green Pages, PO Bx 5631, Santa Monica Ca 90409. It costs $20 for three issues per year.


See this note about tables.

Alabama 35,973 35,973 0 0 0 0 0 Jun 29
Alaska (reg.) 6,403 #2,453 0 *already on 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 *1,000 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 *July 27
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 *800 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 *8,600 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 *250 Jun 1
TOTAL STATES ON 31 *24 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.


Maine state income tax forms list qualified parties and permit taxpayers to contribute to the party of choice. The Maine state government recently announced the cumulative donations to each qualified party through June 22 (below is the dollar amount of contributions, followed by the number of taxpayers who contributed to each party):

  1. Democratic: $10,468 (2,084)
  2. Green: $8,306 (1,546)
  3. Republican: $6,446 (1,222)
  4. Reform: $1,224 (322)

Maine is under a court order to leave the Green Party on the ballot, pending a determination of whether Maine's ballot retention law for parties is constitutional or not.


On July 22, Washington, D.C., held a special election to fill a vacancy in the office of Chair of the City Council. The election is partisan; only two parties entered a candidate. The results: Democrat Linda Cropp 15,675 votes (88.6%); Socialist Workers Mary Martin 1,425 votes (8.1%); write-ins 587.


Virginia elects all 100 members of the lower house of its legislature in November 1997. There are 6 Libertarians, 5 Reform Party candidates, and 5 Greens on the ballot.

Virginia doesn't permit any party labels on the ballot, for any parties, major or minor (an exception is made for presidential candidates). Nicknames are permitted. All five Greens tried to list "Green" as their middle names, but the state refused to print these "nicknames".

The only minor party on the ballot for the three statewide offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General is the Reform Party. The party will run for all three offices and will choose its gubernatorial candidate at a state convention on August 16. The party must poll at least 10% of the vote for one of its three statewide candidates, or it will lose its spot on the ballot.


Jack Gargan has announced his campaign for Congress from Florida's 5th district, as a Reform Party candidate. In order to get on the ballot, he will need 12,141 valid signatures, to be collected between mid-January and mid-July 1998 (this is 3% of the number of registered voters in the district as of October 1996). No minor party candidate for U.S. House in Florida has ever completed the 3% petition. Until 1989, the state didn't even permit a minor party to get on the ballot in just a single district; the party either had to complete a 3% petition statewide, or it couldn't have any candidates (other than president).

There was a Green Party candidate on the Florida ballot for U.S. House in 1992, but that year the 3% petition requirement was not enforced.

Gargan is fairly well-known. He founded THRO ("Throw the Hypocritical Rascals Out") in 1990, to work against the network of laws and practices which makes it easy for incumbent members of the U.S. House to be re-elected. In late 1991 he invited Ross Perot to speak at a THRO rally in Florida, and Perot's speech was so well-received, most historians trace the beginning of the Perot phenomenon to that rally. Gargan tried to get on the ballot as an independent for Governor of Florida in 1994 (no independent candidate for statewide office has ever managed to complete Florida's 3% petition), but was unable to complete the signature drive, so he switched to the Democratic Party and ran in its primary for Governor, polling 28%. He polled almost 40% in the area that encompasses the 5th congressional district.

Gargan may sue Florida to win the right to begin collecting signatures now, instead of having to wait until mid-January. Florida lets initiative petitions circulate for four years (proponents of the initiative set their own start date), and the state also lets minor party and independent presidential candidates begin to circulate their petitions as early as they wish. Therefore, it should be possible to persuade a judge that Florida has no good reason for not letting the 3% non-presidential minor party petition start now. Gargan's address is PO Box 203, Cedar Key, Fl 32625, (352)-543-5538.

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