|This issue was originally printed on white paper.|
On September 16, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) introduced two bills to help minor party and independent candidates for federal office. HR 2477 outlaws restrictive ballot access laws in federal elections for minor party and independent candidates. HR 2478 provides that major party presidential nominees who debate each other must also invite significant minor party and independent candidates into the debates as well, or they lose general election public funding.
An almost-identical ballot access bill was introduced in 1985, 1987, 1989 and 1993, but it never received a hearing. The sponsors were Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan) and, later, Congressman Tim Penny (D-Minnesota). The Ron Paul debates bill is somewhat similar to the debates bill that was introduced in 1993 by Penny. The Penny debates bill did get a hearing, but no action. The chief differences between the Paul and Penny debates bills are: (1) the Penny bill required minor party candidates to have raised at least $500,000 in small donations as well as to have qualified for the ballot in 40 states; the Paul bill deletes the contribution requirement; (2) the Penny bill required debates; the Paul bill does not require that the major party candidates debate, but says if they debate, they must invite significant competitors.
The bills have been assigned to the House Oversight Committee, chaired by Congressman William Thomas of Bakersfield, California. Other members of that Committee are:
(2) John Boehner (R-Ohio)
(3) Vernon Ehlers (R-Michigan)
(4) Sam Gejdenson (D-Connecticut)
(5) Kay Grainger (R-Texas)
(6) Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland)
(7) Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Michigan)
(8) John L. Mica (R-Florida)
(9) Bob Ney (R-Ohio)
If your member of Congress is on this list, please write him or her and ask that the Oversight Committee hold a hearing on each bill. The address is Washington, D.C. 20515.
Debates Bill, HR 2478
A bill to require that candidates who receive campaign financing from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund agree not to participate in multicandidate forums that exclude candidates who have broad-based public support.
Sec. 1: Short Title. This Act may be cited as the "Freedom Debate Act of 1997".
Sec. 2: Requirement that Candidates who Receive Campaign Financing from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund Agree Not to Participate in Multicandidate Forums that Exclude Candidates with Broad-Based Public Support.
(a) In General -- In addition to the requirements under subtitle H of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, in order to be eligible to receive payments from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, a candidate shall agree in writing not to appear in any multicandidate forum with respect to the election involved unless the following individuals are invited to participate in the multicandidate forum:
(1) Each other eligible candidate under such subtitle (note: this means the nominee of any party which polled 5% at the last presidential election).
(2) Each individual who is qualified in at least 40 States for the office involved.
(b) Enforcement -- If the Federal Election Commission determines that a candidate -- (1) has received payments from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund; and (2) has violated the agreement referred to in subsection (a); the candidate shall pay to the Treasury an amount equal to the amount of the payments so made.
(c) Definition -- As used in this Act, the term "multicandidate forum" means a meeting -- (1) consisting of a moderated reciprocal discussion of issues among candidates for the same office; and (2) to which any other person has access in person or through an electronic medium."
If this bill had been in effect in 1996, the general election presidential debates would have included Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, Ross Perot, Harry Browne and John Hagelin. In 1992, they would have included George Bush, Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, Andre Marrou and Lenora Fulani. In 1988 they would have included George Bush, Michael Dukakis, Ron Paul and Lenora Fulani. In 1980 they would have included Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, John Anderson and Ed Clark. In 1968 they would have included Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace. In 1984, 1976 and 1972, only the Democratic and Republican nominees would have been invited.
There is no presidential election in U.S. history at which there were more than 5 candidates who were on the ballot in at least 40 states. Since the leading major party primary season debates (for the party which does not control the White House) always have the participation of at least five candidates, it should not be possible for opponents of HR 2478 to charge that the general election debates would be unwieldy.
Furthermore, the two-person general election debates actually held in October 1996 had the lowest TV audience ever, for any general election presidential debates, whereas the three-way October 1992 debates had a large TV audience. This evidence supports the notion that the public desires more than just two candidates in presidential debates.
Ballot Access Bill, HR 2477
Section two is not reproduced below because it is so long. It fills ten pages of the bill, discussing why the bill is needed and citing particularly bad state ballot access laws.
"A bill to enforce the guarantees of the First, Fourteenth, Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States by prohibiting certain devices used to deny the right to participate in certain elections.
Section 1. This Act may be cited as the 'Voter Freedom Act of 1997.'
Section 2. Findings and Purposes (not included, due to length)
Section 3. (a) In General -- An individual shall have the right to be placed as a candidate on, and to have such individual's political party, body or group affiliation in connection with such candidacy placed on, a ballot or similar voting materials to be used in a Federal election if --
(1) such individual presents a petition stating in substance that its signers desire such individual's name and political party, body or group affiliation, if any, to be placed on the ballot or other similar voting materials to be used in the Federal election with respect to which such rights are to be exercised;
(2) with respect to a Federal election for the office of President, Vice President, or Senator, such petition has a number of signatures of persons qualified to vote for such office equal to one-tenth of one percent of the number of persons who voted in the most recent previous Federal election for such office in the state, or 1,000 signatures, whichever is greater;
(3) with respect to a Federal election for the office of Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress, such petition has a number of signatures of persons qualified to vote for such office equal to one-half of one percent of the number of persons who voted in the most recent previous Federal election for such office or, if there was no previous Federal election for such office, 1,000 signatures;
(4) with respect to a Federal election the date of which was fixed 345 or more days in advance, such petition was circulated during a period beginning on the 345th day and ending on the 75th day before the date of the election; and
(5) with respect to a Federal election the date of which was fixed less than 345 days in advance, such petition was circulated during a period established by the State holding the election, or, if no such period was established, during a period beginning on the day after the date the election was scheduled and ending on the tenth day before the date of the election, provided, however, that the number of signatures required under paragraph (2) or (3) shall be reduced by 1/270 for each day less than 270 in such period.
(b) Special Rule -- An individual shall have the right to be placed as a candidate on, and to have such individual's political party, body, or group affiliation in connection with such candidacy placed on, a ballot or similar voting materials to be used in a Federal election, without having to satisfy any requirement relating to a petition under subsection (a), if that or another individual, as a candidate of that political party, body or group, received one percent of the votes cast in the most recent general Federal election for President or Senator in the State.
(c) Savings Provision -- Subsection (a) and (b) shall not apply with respect to any State that provides by law for greater ballot access rights than the ballot access rights provided for under such subsections.
Sec. 4. The Attorney General shall make rules to carry out this Act.
Sec. 5. General Definitions. As used in this Act -- (1) the term "Federal election" means a general or special election for the office of (A) President or Vice President; (B) Senator; or (C) Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress; (2) the term "State" means a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any other territory or possession of the United States; (3) the term "individual" means an individual who has the qualifications required by law of a person who holds the office for which such individual seeks to be a candidate; (4) the term "petition" includes a petition which conforms to §3(a)(1) and upon which signers' addresses and/or printed names are required to be placed; (5) the term "signer" means a person whose signature appears on a petition and who can be identified as a person qualified to vote for an individual for whom the petition is circulated, and includes a person who requests another to sign a petition on his or her behalf at the time when, and at the place where, the request is made; (6) the term "signature" includes the incomplete name of a signer, the name of a signer containing abbreviations such as first or middle initial, and the name of a signer preceded or followed by titles such as "Mr.", "Ms.", "Dr.", "Jr.", or "III" and (7) the term "address" means the address which a signer uses for purposes of registration and voting."
If you support HR 2477 or HR 2478, please ask your member of Congress to become a co-sponsor. The average congressional district only contains two subscribers to B.A.N., so if you don't write, your member of Congress may not receive any mail in support of these bills, at least not until the various minor parties which support the bills launch a campaign to get their members to write.
Anyone who forwards a copy of a letter from a member of Congress, commenting on the substance of either HR 2477 or HR 2478, may receive a free three-month extension of a subscription to Ballot Access News. If the letter is forwarded by a non-subscriber, the person who forwards the letter will receive a free 3-month subscription.
The table below lists the number of signatures needed for a new or minor party to get on the ballot for US Senate in 1998, and the number that would be required for if HB 2477 were in effect.
See this note about tables.
|Delaware||(reg) 200||(reg) 200|
See below for more explanation of these figures. "Reg" means registered members, not petitions.
The preceding chart shows the number of signatures needed to get a new or previously unqualified party on the ballot for U.S. Senate in 1998, with the party label. It also shows the number of signatures that would be needed if HR 2477 were enacted. Although only two-thirds of the states are scheduled to have a U.S. Senate election in 1998, any state could have one, if there were a vacancy. D.C. elects U.S. Senators, but they can't vote.
On October 3, federal judge David Levi held a final hearing in California Democratic Party v Jones, no. 5:96-2038 (Sacramento), the case over whether a state may force parties to let members of other parties help choose their nominees. Levi said that he still hasn't made up his mind whether the law is constitutional or not. He indicated, however, that he doesn't accept the state's argument that since the blanket primary was passed by the voters, and since exit polling tends to show that a majority of registered Democrats voted for the initiative, that therefore this is really an "internal party dispute" between the rank-and-file Democrats and officers of the state Democratic Party.
The last B.A.N. reported that the 9th circuit (which is considering a challenge to California's state legislative term limits law) had taken the unusual step of asking for more briefs, even though the hearing has already been held.
Now, the three judges hearing the case have asked for still more briefs, from legislators who are not part of the lawsuit. Term limits supporters speculate that a majority of the panel is getting ready to strike down the term limits, and are giving any legislators who wish to take advantage of the decision, a chance to share in the possible relief. Because of a procedural peculiarity in this case, without such intervention, the relief could only be granted in 1998 to a single state legislator, Assemblyman Tom Bates of Berkeley.
On September 12, U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks, a Bush appointee, struck down a Texas election law which says that initiative petitions must carry the voter registration affidavit number, for every voter who signs the initiative.
The same requirement had been struck down for minor parties in 1988, and for independent candidates in 1996. Austinites for Less Corruption v City of Austin, A97-ca-120, W.D.
1. Colorado: on September 8, the 10th circuit denied the state's request for rehearing in American Constitutional Law Foundation v Buckley, in which a law requiring petition circulators to be registered voters was struck down.
2. Florida: On September 18, the Reform Party filed a lawsuit against Florida law which makes it illegal to circulate a petition to get a new party on the ballot during an odd year. Reform Party of Florida v Mortham, 4:97cv347. The party wants to get started now on its 1998 petition.
Florida (2): on August 18, a state judge ruled that the city of Key West is in violation of the U.S. Constitution by imposing mandatory filing fees for candidates. Back in 1972 and again in 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that there must be an alternate means to get on the ballot for candidates who cannot afford filing fees. Chote v City of Key West, 97-881-CA-18, Monroe County. The plaintiff, May Chote, was then put on the ballot as a candidate in this month's election for Mayor.
3. New York: on September 17, there was a hearing in the 2nd circuit in Gelb v Board of Elections in City of New York, over whether New York city violated the U.S. constitution when it refused to permit write-in voting at the 1993 primary, even though the state election code makes it clear that write-ins are permitted in primaries. The judges, Wilfred Feinberg, John M. Walker, and Jose Cabranes, seemed uninterested in the oral presentations.
(See also this update.)
The three judges who will hear LaRouche v Fowler on October 14 in the D.C. Circuit are Laurence Silberman, David Sentelle (Reagan appointees) and Merrick Garland (a Clinton appointee). The question is whether the Democratic National Committee should have asked the U.S. Justice Department for permission, before issuing a rule that votes cast for LaRouche in 1996 Democratic presidential primaries don't count; without this rule, LaRouche would have won a delegate from Louisiana and one from Virginia.
Representative Todd Platts (R-York) will introduce his bill to improve ballot access this week. An identical bill will be introduced in the Senate next week. The bill has already been endorsed by a September 26 editorial in the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
Last month, the Kentucky Secretary of State acknowledged that the Reform Party is a qualified party (one which nominates by convention). The Kentucky law, ever since 1891, has provided that a party which polls 2% of the statewide vote is entitled to place nominees on the general election ballot with no petition (although, since 1972, only the party's presidential vote counts for this purpose). The Reform Party polled over 2% for president in 1996, but the state then re-interpreted the law to mean that only if the party had membership of 2% (as shown on voter registration forms) would it be qualified. That harsher interpretation has now been dropped.
On July 10, 1997, U.S. District Court Judge David Alan Ezra, a Reagan appointee, ruled that the U.S. Constitution requires elections which are fundamentally fair. He ruled that Hawaii must hold a new election to let voters decide whether to call a state constitutional convention.
Every ten years, Hawaii ballots ask the voters if they wish a state constitutional convention. At the November 1996 election, the vote was "Yes" 163,869; "No" 160,153. 45,245 voters left the question blank. Always in the past, blank ballots have been ignored, and after the November 1996 election, the Attorney General ruled again that the question passed.
The AFL-CIO, which fears a state constitutional convention would propose changes which would be unfavorable to organized labor, asked the Hawaii Supreme Court to rule that the measure had not passed, since it had not received a majority from all the voters who put a ballot in the ballot box. On March 24, 1997, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the measure had failed because it really needed a majority from all voters who cast a ballot. AFL-CIO v Yoshina, 935 P 2d 89.
Mark Bennett, a voter who had voted for the convention, then filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging that changing the rules after the election violates the U.S. Constitution. Judge Ezra agreed and ruled that, whether the Hawaii Supreme Court was right or wrong, it wasn't fair to change the rule (about whether blank votes count as "no" votes) after the election had been held. He ordered the state to hold a new election within 90 days. Bennett v Yoshina, cv 97-0322. However, last month two judges of the 9th circuit stayed the ruling, and set oral arguments on the question for January 1998. In the 9th circuit, the case is 97-16408.
Austria: a total of 2,600 signatures at the town halls must be obtained, in order for a party to place candidates for all parliamentary seats. A fee equivalent to $450 U.S. dollars is also required (this fee covers the entire slate of candidates).
Belgium: If the party has fewer than three members of the old Parliament, it must submit between 200 and 400 signatures from each parliamentary district, depending on the size of the district. There are twenty districts.
Croatia: no petition or fee is required; a party simply requests a place on the ballot.
Finland: each candidate for the national legislature needs 150 signatures.
Germany: if the party has no members in the old Parliament, it must submit 2,000 signatures in each of the 16 German states, and 200 signatures per district. There are 328 districts.
Great Britain: candidates for Parliament must pay 500 pounds (US $800), but the money is returned if the candidate polls 5%.
Greece: no petition is required, but the party must pay the equivalent of $180 U.S. dollars per candidate, and must print and distribute paper ballots bearing the candidates' names.
Ireland: no petition is required, just a deposit of 300 pounds per candidate.
Netherlands: no petition is required, just a deposit of 25,000 guilders ($12,500 U.S.), for a full slate.
Norway: 500 signatures per district.
Poland: 3,000 signatures per district, which works out to 75,000 signatures for the whole nation.
Portugal: 5,000 signatures are needed to place a complete slate of candidates on the ballot for the whole nation. The petition need be completed only once.
Spain: a party merely needs to request a place on the ballot.
Sweden: no fee nor petition is required, but a party must print its own ballots and distribute them to its supporters.
Switzerland: between 100 and 400 signatures are required for each Canton. There are 25 Cantons.
B.A.N. thanks the U.S. Natural Law Party for this information.
The correct number of signatures for a new party to qualify in Arkansas for 1998 is 21,506. Past B.A.N. issues had shown an erroneous figure, 26,528. The formula is 3% of the last gubernatorial vote.
See this note about tables.
|FULL PARTY||CAND.||REFORM||LIB'T||NAT LAW||TAXPAYR||GREEN|
|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||*21,506||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||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||Jul 14|
|Connecticut||no procedure||#7,500||can't start||can't start||can't start||already on||can't start||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||*1,300||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||*already on||0||0||0||0||Aug 11|
|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||*12,000||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|
|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||*300||Jun 1|
|TOTAL STATES ON||*32||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 party label. "Deadline" refers to "full party procedure"; if state lacks one, it refers to candidate petition. * -- entry changed since last issue. Mississippi, New Jersey, Virginia, and West Virginia have no statewide offices up in 1998, so for them, chart is for US House.
Last month, New Jersey Libertarian gubernatorial nominee Murray Sabrin became the first non-major party candidate to qualify for inclusion in New Jersey gubernatorial debates (to be held October 18, 21 and 24). He also became the first non-major party candidate in the state to qualify for matching funds.
Last month, voters in Scotland and Wales voted in favor of regional legislative bodies. Both will use proportional representation. In Scotland, there will be 129 seats, 73 elected by the single-member plurality method, and 56 from party lists designed to compensate parties for distortions resulting from the district elections.
In Wales, there will be 60 seats, 40 by single-member plurality and 20 from party lists.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has renewed his promise to let British voters decide, in a referendum, whether to use proportional representation to elect the British House of Commons.
In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Socialist Workers Party need not disclose the names of people who contribute money to SWP campaigns, since the party showed that people publicly identified with the party are likely to be harrassed. This year, Seattle is nevertheless requiring SWP candidates to disclose contributors, since the Seattle Ethics & Elections Commission feels that such harrassment does not exist in the Seattle area. The SWP plans to sue the city if the city won't back down.
The Reform Party is running Sue Harris DeBauche for Governor of Virginia, and Bradley Evans for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, at the November 4, 1997 election. The party will lose its status as a qualified party unless one of them polls at least 10%. No other minor party or independent candidates are on the Virginia ballot for statewide office.
On September 9, Pennsylvania held a special election for State Representative, 40th district. The vote was: Mayer, Republican, 59.0%%; Kovach, Democrat, 33.3%; Hollenden, Reform Party, 7.7%. In 1996, the vote for this office was: Republican 65.7%, Democratic 34.3%.
Last month, Iowa City councilmember Karen Kubby announced that she had joined the Green Party. Kubby has also been a member of the Socialist Party for many years.
The Coalition for Free and Open Elections held its third meeting in the D.C. area this year, on September 13. The group voted to endorse the two Ron Paul bills, and began work on setting up a new, separate educational and legal foundation which will apply for tax-exempt status.
It is somewhat likely that the name will be changed slightly, to the Coalition for Open, Free & Fair Elections. The acronym would then become "COFFE".
West Virginia has finally printed new voter registration forms, to replace the old ones in use before 1996. The new forms list the Libertarian Party as well as the Democratic and Republican Parties, and provide a checkbox next to the name of each (there is also an "independent" choice and a blank line for other parties). West Virginia voter registration forms have not listed any party other than the Democratic and Republican Parties, since at least 1926. The Libertarian Party earned a listing by polling over 1% for Governor last year.
The last B.A.N. listed states in any minor party has candidates in 1997 for public office, but the list was incomplete. It should have included Massachusetts for the Green Party; Alabama, D.C., Florida and Iowa for the Socialist Workers Party; and Florida, Pennsylvania and Washington for the Reform Party.