Ballot Access News -- March 8, 1998

Volume 13, Number 12

This issue was originally printed on white paper.

Table of Contents
  1. 4 STATES LIKELY TO PASS BALLOT ACCESS REFORM
  2. INSTANT RUN-OFF
  3. MORE LEGISLATIVE NEWS
  4. BIZARRE ARIZONA BILL
  5. HIGH COURT ACCEPTS PETITIONING CASE
  6. FLORIDA ON TRACK
  7. RON PAUL BILLS
  8. REFORM CASE DISMISSED
  9. LAWSUIT NEWS
  10. TERM LIMITS LAWSUITS
  11. CONGRESS CANDIDATE BARRED OVER RESIDENCY
  12. 1998 PETITIONING FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE (table)
  13. REFORM PARTY GETS FEC RECOGNITION
  14. LIBERTARIAN HOPES FOR FLORIDA RACE
  15. GREEN RE-ELECTED
  16. B.A.N. WEB SITE CHANGE
  17. SOCIALIST WORKERS FINE REDUCED
  18. NEW MEXICO REFORM PARTY DEMOTED
  19. POLL SHOWS DISCONTENT WITH SYSTEM
  20. Subscription Information

4 STATES LIKELY TO PASS BALLOT ACCESS REFORM

VIRGINIA BILL IS AWAITING THE GOVERNOR'S SIGNATURE

It is likely that ballot access laws for minor parties and independent candidates will improve substantially this month in Colorado, Maryland, Virginia and Wyoming.

Colorado: HB 1110 passed the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee on February 25 by a vote of 8-0. It had previously passed the House. It will probably pass the full Senate sometime during March. The legislature is in session until May. The bill provides that a group may place all its nominees on the general election ballot, with no further petitioning, if it (1) submits 10,000 signatures on a petition; or (2) has at least 1,000 registered members, according to voter registration records; or (3) ran at least ten candidates in the last election; or (4) polled 5% for any statewide race in either of the last two elections.

The old Colorado law provided that a group had to poll 10% for Governor in order to place nominees on the ballot without submitting separate petitions for each candidate.

Maryland: HB 118 passed the House on March 4 by a vote of 115-17. SB 123 and SB 27 passed the Senate 39-6 on February 27. None of the three bills are alike, but all improve ballot access. Since the bills are slightly different, the House bill must still pass the Senate, or one of the Senate bills must still pass the House.

HB 118 lowers minor party and independent candidate petitions from 3% of the number of registered voters, to 1%, a huge improvement (for statewide office, from 75,000 signatures to 25,000). It also provides that parties can avoid collecting candidate petitions if they have membership (as shown on voter registration records) of at least 1% of the state total. Unfortunately, it increases the petition to qualify a new party from 10,000 signatures to 1% of the number of registered voters.

SB 27 is the same as HB 118, except that it does not raise the number of signatures for the party petition. SB 123 is the same as SB 27, except that it only lowers candidate petitions for statewide office, not district office.

Proponents of ballot access reform are cautiously optimistic that the legislature will pass a bill with the characteristics of SB 27.

If any of the Maryland bills are signed into law, the only states in the nation which will continue to require more than 50,000 signatures or members to qualify a new party will be California, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina and Oklahoma (although Minnesota has a full party procedure of greater than 50,000 signatures, minor parties in Minnesota can appear on the ballot with the party label by using the much easier independent procedure).

All the bills were assisted by a strong endorsement from Ellen Sauerbrey, Republican gubernatorial candidate in 1994. She is running again in 1998.

Virginia: SB 316 passed the House on February 27, and has been sent to the Governor. An identical bill, HB 49, also passed both houses. The bills lower the number of signatures for statewide minor party and independent candidates from .5% of the number of registered voters (almost 18,000) to a flat 10,000. They lower the number for U.S. House candidates from .5% (about 1,600 signatures) to a flat 1,000.

The only negative change is that statewide petitions now will need 400 signatures from each congressional district; formerly they needed 200 from each district. Virginia has eleven U.S. House seats.

The old law is so restrictive that only two minor party or independent candidates for U.S. Senate have appeared on the Virginia ballot in the last twenty years.

Wyoming: SF 33 passed the Senate 25-5 on March 2. The House Corporations & Elections Committee is expected to pass it this week. It lowers the number of signatures for minor parties and independent candidates to 2% of the last congressional vote cast (for statewide office, 4,200 signatures in 1998), and lowers the vote test for parties to remain on the ballot from 3%, to 2%, of the congressional vote. Also, the vote test would no longer need to be met solely in the U.S. House race, but could also met by a party's gubernatorial candidate, or candidate for Secretary of State.


INSTANT RUN-OFF

New Mexico: the bill for "instant run-off", SJR 8, failed on a tie vote of 4-4 last month in the Senate Rules Committee. One Senator who would probably have voted for it, was absent. It is too late in the legislative session for another vote.

Vermont: "instant run-off" for statewide office is likely to pass next year. This year, hearings have been held on H 665, and legislative leaders support the bill, although they won't pass it this year because it hasn't had enough publicity yet, and they don't wish to make a radical change in election procedure without more public awareness. Common Cause and the Center for Voting and Democracy are working for such awareness. The legislature itself is planning to use the system later this month when it votes on a mock resolution to choose the "best" reporter who covers the legislature.

"Instant run-off", also called preference voting, lets voters place a "one" next to their favorite candidate on the ballot, and "two" for an alternate choice. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice ballots, the second-choice ballots of the voters whose first choice was eliminated are counted.


MORE LEGISLATIVE NEWS

1. Alabama: HB 105, which would have changed all elections (except presidential elections) to the system used in Louisiana, has been abandoned, even though the bill passed the House Constitution and Elections Committee last month. The Louisiana system provides for a single vote for all candidates, several months prior to the general election. If anyone gets 50%, that person is elected; otherwise the two top vote-getters compete in a November run-off. The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated that system, for congressional elections, several months ago.

2. Arizona: Three bills which would have made it more difficult for initiatives to get on the ballot have been indefinitely postponed. They are HB 2491, HB 2493, and HCR 2014. They would ban paying petitioners per signature, require petitioners to wear ID badges, create a county distribution requirement, and move the filing deadline from July to January.

Arizona (2): HB 2028 lost in the House Government Operations Committee by 4-5 on February 14. It would have let a candidate obtain a place on a primary ballot by paying a fee. Current law requires a petition of one-half of 1% of a party's registration, to put a candidate on a party primary ballot.

However, SB 1255, which lowers the number of signatures needed for a candidate to get on a major party primary ballot, passed the Senate Rules Committee on February 23 and will soon be voted on in the Senate. It reduces the number of signatures needed for a candidate to get on a statewide primary ballot to 2,000 signatures, of one-half of 1%, whichever is less. The current requirement for statewide major party candidates is over 4,000 signatures.

3. California: SB 1505 was introduced on February 6 and will probably have its first hearing in the Senate Elections Committee early in April. It would amend the "blanket primary" passed by initiative in 1996. There would be separate presidential primary ballots for each party, and only members of a party could vote in those presidential primaries.

Only the results of those presidential primaries would count, toward choosing delegates to a national convention.

Totally separate from that, there would be a "beauty contest" presidential primary ballot for any voter who wished to vote in it, but the results would have no concrete effect.

If the bill passes, it still won't go into effect unless the voters approve it in November 1998. In California, laws enacted by initiatives can't be amended unless the voters agree.

4. Georgia: SB 551, by Senator Steve Langford, which would have vastly eased ballot access for minor party candidates for U.S. House and state legislature, has not passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee, and it is now too late for it to proceed.

5. Hawaii: SB 2942, which would have made it easier for a minor party to appear on the ballot, has not passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and it is almost too late for it to advance. SB 2376, which would cancel the primary election of any party with no contests in its primary, has also failed to advance.

6. Iowa: HF 315 would have eliminated the "straight ticket device", or "party circle" from state ballots, but it failed to advance and is now dead.

7. Kentucky: SB 98, recently introduced by Senator Tom Buford (R-Nicholasville) would delete the requirement that a candidate in a major party primary must have been registered in that party for a year before he or she files.

8. Louisiana: a special session of the legislature will be called later this month, to wrestle with the problem that the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the state's election system for congressional elections late last year (see Alabama paragraph above for further explanation). Political observers are still unable to predict what the legislature will substitute.

9. New Jersey: AB 184 would change the date of primaries from June to the first Tuesday in March, in presidential election years. It hasn't had a hearing yet.

New Jersey (2): Senate President Donald DiFrancesco plans to introduce a bill to alter the state's public financing law, to provide that out-of-state contributions to gubernatorial candidates do not count, when such candidates are trying to raise enough money to obtain public financing and a spot on the debates. The bill is prompted by the fact that Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Murray Sabrin last year became the first minor party candidate to ever qualify for public funds. Sabrin received contributions from Libertarians all across the U.S.

10. Ohio: HB 277, introduced last year, would require that independent candidates not have voted at a partisan primary in either of the last two elections. It has not yet made any progress.

11. Pennsylvania: HB 1918, which eases ballot access for minor party and independent candidates, still has not received a vote in the House State Government Committee. Other proposed bills, to establish guidelines on how write-in votes should be tallied, and to establish "instant-runoff", have not yet been introduced.

12. South Carolina: SB 357, which would require minor party candidates to pay filing fees, passed the Senate last year and will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee later this month. Traditionally, qualified minor parties nominate by convention (although any qualified party is free to decide whether to nominate by primary or convention). Current law requires filing fees only from candidates running in a primary; the bill would impose fees on candidates nominated in convention.

13. Utah: On March 2, Governor Michael Leavitt signed HB 75, which bans fusion. The bill had passed the Senate last month by a vote of 16-12. Congressman Merrill Cook (R-Utah) had asked Governor Leavitt to veto the bill, but to no avail.

14. Virginia: all the bills to print party labels failed to pass. They were SB 18, HB 12, and HB 1320. Virginia is the only state which omits all party labels from general election ballots (except that Virginia prints party labels for president).


BIZARRE ARIZONA BILL

On February 20, the Arizona House Government Reform Committee passed HB 2336, which revamps independent candidate petitions. In the future, if the bill passes, there will be no more independent candidate petitions for the general election. Instead, anyone who wishes to be an independent candidate must compete in a "primary election" in which only independents, and members of unqualified parties, will be able to vote. This agglomeration of voters will choose one "winner" of this primary, who will be the only independent candidate for that particular office who can be placed on the ballot.

The bill does not mention how independent presidential candidates could ever get on the general election ballot. Arizona has a February presidential primary. To require independent presidential candidates to file a declaration in January would violate the U.S. Supreme Court decision Anderson v Celebrezze, the 1983 decision which said that states cannot require independent candidates to file earlier than the summer of election years. Representative Marilyn Jarrett (R-Mesa), the bill's chief sponsor, acknowledged in a telephone conversation on March 5 that she hasn't considered this problem. The Secretary of State's office says it hasn't yet studied the bill.


HIGH COURT ACCEPTS PETITIONING CASE

On February 23, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Colorado's appeal in Buckley v American Constitutional Law Foundation, 97-930. The issue is whether a state may require that a petitioner be a registered voter, and whether a state may require a petitioner to wear a button identifying himself or herself. The 10th circuit had ruled both restrictions invalid under the First Amendment. However, the 10th circuit had upheld a law requiring petitioners to be adults. The American Constitutional Law Foundation had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the age restriction, but the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear that part of the case.


FLORIDA ON TRACK

On February 23, the Constitution Revision Commission voted 29-0 to reaffirm support for the proposal to eliminate mandatory petitioning for minor party and independent candidates. The proposal to provide equal ballot access procedures for all candidates will be voted on by the voters of Florida in November. If it passes, it will be in the State Constitution. All candidates would be free to choose whether to pay a filing fee, or submit a petition. Currently, minor party and independent candidates must do both. Florida filing fees for Congress are over $8,000 and the statewide petition (for all office other than president) is 242,337 valid signatures. Obviously, it is easier for a minor party candidate for U.S. Senate to pay a fee of $8,000 than it is to submit 242,337 signatures.

In the meantime, Representative Lori Edwards will introduce a bill to lower the petition requirements when the legislature convenes in April. No sponsor for a similar bill in the State Senate has been found yet.


RON PAUL BILLS

On February 26, the U.S. House Oversight Committee held a brief hearing on the two bills introduced by Congressman Ron Paul to help minor parties and independent candidates. The only person allowed to testify was Congressman Paul himself. The bills are HR 2477, which outlaws restrictive ballot access laws in federal elections for minor party and independent candidates, and HR 2478, which provides that if general election presidential debates are being held, all candidates on the ballot in 40 states must be invited.

The hearing was historic, since the ballot access bill has been in five different sessions of Congress, and this was the first time it ever had a hearing. However, the impact of the hearing was not very great, since the press did not attend, and only two members of the Committee were there to hear the testimony.

Congressman Bill Redmond (R-New Mexico) recently became a co-sponsor of the two Ron Paul bills.


REFORM CASE DISMISSED

On February 27, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker dismissed the Reform Party's constitutional case against certain aspects of the federal election campaign law, because the lawsuit is "frivolous". Nat.Comm. of Reform Party v Democratic National Committee, c97-4048. The Reform Party is appealing.

The supposed basis for the "frivolous" label is that since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld public financing aspects of the Act in 1976 (Buckley v Valeo), therefore the new lawsuit cannot succeed. However, in the 1976 lawsuit, there were no parties in existence who had polled more than 5% of the vote, but less than 25% of the vote, for president at the last election. Therefore, the treatment of such parties was not specifically dealt with in the 1976 opinion. Currently, of course, there is such a party, the Reform Party (it polled 8.5% for president in 1996).

The Reform Party argues that since the law requires equal public funding for parties which poll 25%, it violates Equal Protection that parties which poll between 5% and 25% do not also get equal funding, especially since the contribution limits are equal for all parties.

There are other issues in the lawsuit as well, including a challenge to two-party monopoly membership on the FEC. The lawsuit also argues that the FEC ignored Democratic and Republican campaign violations in 1996, and that the federal law's only remedy for FEC inaction (that the complainant file a lawsuit with U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.) is not procedurally meaningful.

Judge Walker did rule that the Reform Party has standing to bring the lawsuit. The FEC had even argued that, since the National Committee of the Reform Party had never been declared to be a National Committee by the FEC, therefore the party cannot even file a lawsuit. The Reform Party pointed out that the FEC has never specifically ruled that the National Committees of the Democratic and Republican Parties are national committees either, and yet they frequently file lawsuits.


LAWSUIT NEWS

1. California: on February 3, Superior Court Judge James T. Ford placed a congressional candidate on the Republican primary ballot even though he is only 24 years old. The candidate will be age 25 by election day. The state had refused to certify him, since the election law requires candidates to meet the age requirement when they file. Nunes v Jones, 98CS00274, Sacramento.

California (2): On February 13, the 9th circuit refused to reconsider its decision in NAACP v Jones, 96-56455, the case brought by the Voting Rights Institute challenging the method by which judges raise campaign contributions.

2. Georgia: on February 9, the State Supreme Court ruled against the Green Party, on the issue of whether Nader supporters needed to run legal notices in state newspapers as a condition of Nader write-ins being counted in November 1996. Esco v Secretary of State, S97A1483. The requirement is redundant, since write-in candidates must file a declaration of write-in candidacy with the Secretary of State. The Court didn't even write an opinion; it merely said "affirmed".

3. Maine: on February 18, U.S. District Court Judge Gene Carter, a Reagan appointee, upheld Maine law which requires a qualified party to poll 5% of the presidential vote in order to retain its spot on the ballot. Maine Green Party v Secretary of State, 96cv261. The decision was no surprise, since the Federal Magistrate assigned to the case had recommended this result two months ago. The Green Party is appealing.

Maine (2): On February 24, Superior Court Judge Donald Alexander ruled that if a town clerk refuses to certify signatures on an initiative petition in the allotted statutory time period, but does certify them later, the state must accept those signatures. Petitioners were trying to get a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot. The Secretary of State has accepted the ruling and is not appealing. Clark v Secretary of State of Maine, civ AP 98-11, Cumberland County.

4. Montana: on October 17, 1997, U.S. District Court Judge Charles C. Lovell, a Reagan appointee, struck down a state law that no one may "solicit" a vote for or against any candidate on election day. National Right to Life PAC v McGrath, 982 F Supp 694.


TERM LIMITS LAWSUITS

1. Arkansas: On February 12, U.S. District Court Judge James M. Moody, a Clinton appointee, upheld legislative term limits. Wilson v Priest, H-C-97-29. Plaintiffs had argued that the law discriminates against African American voters.

2. California: the U.S. Supreme Court will probably say on March 23 whether it will hear Bates v Jones, 97-1173, the case over legislative term limits. The U.S. Supreme Court has never heard a case on whether state term limits violate the U.S. Constitution.

3. Michigan: on February 5, U.S. District Court Judge Patrick J. Duggan, a Clinton appointee, upheld the state's legislative term limits. Citizens for Legislative Choice v Miller, 97-cv-73777-DT, Detroit. As a result, 64 out of 110 representatives cannot run for re-election this year (the State Senate is not up this year).

4. Missouri: on February 18, U.S. District Court Judge D. Brook Bartlett, a Reagan appointee, struck down an initiative which provided that the words "Disregarded Voter Instruction on Term Limits" should be placed on the ballot next to the names of candidates who fail to support a constitutional amendment for congressional term limits. Gralike v Cook, 96-4417, Jefferson City. The Attorney General of Missouri announced that he will appeal.

5. Nevada: on January 23, the State Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of placing candidates on the ballot in alphabetical order. It said there is insufficient evidence that ballot order affects voting behavior. Schaefer v Tighe, no. 27159. The plaintiff has filed a new lawsuit over the same issue in federal court, Schaefer v Heller, cv-s-96-492-LDG(RJJ).


CONGRESS CANDIDATE BARRED OVER RESIDENCY

On February 20, U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Timlin, a Clinton appointee, ruled that it is constitutional for a state to keep a congressional candidate off the ballot if he is not registered to vote in the state. Schaefer v Townsend, cv 98-0033 (Riverside). California law requires candidates to be registered voters in the district they seek to run in, although in the past this law has not been applied to congressional candidates, since Article I of the U.S. Constitution sets forth the qualifications to be a member of Congress, and states cannot add to those qualifications. Article I merely says that congressmen must be a resident of the state "when elected". The judge ruled that residency is not a "qualification", but a "procedure". Under the U.S. Supreme Court decision U.S. Term Limits v Thornton, states cannot add to the "qualifications" listed in the U.S. Constitution, but can bar candidates for not following "procedures". Obviously, the judge is wrong, since residency is mentioned in Article I of the Constitution, in the list of "qualifications" (the term used by the U.S. Supreme Court).

The plaintiff, Michael Schaefer, desired to run in the special congressional election in California's 44th district (to fill the seat left vacant when Congressman Sonny Bono died). Schaefer has a home in California but is registered to vote in his domicile, Las Vegas, Nevada. He says that it if appeared possible that he might win, he would change his domicile to California before the election.

Schaefer has filed for a rehearing. He points out that in 1964, the California Supreme Court ordered the state to place Pierre Salinger on the ballot as a U.S. Senate candidate, even though Salinger was a registered voter in Virginia at the time, and was not eligible to register in California. Similarly, Robert Kennedy was placed on the New York ballot in 1964 for U.S. Senate even though he was a registered voter in Virginia. A motion for rehearing will be argued on April 2.


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 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 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 *2,000 0 0 0 0 Jul 14
Georgia 38,113 #38,113 already on already on 0 0 0 Jul 14
Hawaii 5,450 25 0 *finished *2,300 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 *500 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 *2,000 *1,800 Dec 12, '97
Maryland (10,000) est. 78,000 0 6,000 0 0 2,000 Aug 3
Massachusetts est. (reg) 32,000 #10,000 already on can't start can't start can't start can't start *Jul 28
Michigan 30,891 30,891 already on already on *1,000 0 6,000 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 *2,500 0 0 0 Aug 5
New Jersey no procedure #1,300 *150 *400 *100 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 *700 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 *500 0 0 Jan 5
Oklahoma 60,336 0 already on 0 0 *10,000 0 Jun 1
Oregon 18,282 13,292 already on already on already on *2,000 already on Aug 25
Pennsylvania no procedure #24,390 can't start can't start can't start can't start can't start Aug 3
Rhode Island 18,069 #1,000 already on 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 9,000 0 0 0 0 Apr 8
Texas 43,963 43,963 can't start already on too late can't start too late 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 17,983 0 0 0 0 0 *Sep 15
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 *500 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 the procedure with the earliest deadline. * -- Entry Changed since last issue. Mississippi, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia have no statewide offices up in 1998, so for them, chart is for US House.


REFORM PARTY GETS FEC RECOGNITION

On March 5, the Federal Election Commission approved the Reform Party's application for "National Committee" status. Other minor parties which have this status are the Libertarian, U.S. Taxpayers, and Natural Law Parties. The direct advantage for parties to have such status relates only to campaign finance. However, an indirect advantage for parties which have this status is that the national officers of the party gain an additional measure of legitimacy, which is useful if there is an internal dispute within the party over who the legal officers are.

Crucial to the FEC decision was the fact that the Reform Party had 16 candidates for Congress in 1996 who raised or spent at least $5,000. The FEC won't award "national committee" status to any party unless it has congressional candidates with substantial campaigns in several states.


LIBERTARIAN HOPES FOR FLORIDA RACE

On March 10, there will be a special election to fill a vacant State Senate seat in Florida's 17th district. Three candidates are on the ballot, a Republican, a Democrat, and a Libertarian, Carl Strang. This is the first time any minor party candidate has been on the ballot for State Senate in Florida since the 1910's decade (although the American Party was on the Florida ballot in 1974 and 1976, it didn't have any State Senate candidates either time).

Strang is a former Mayor of Winter Park, a city in the 17th district. He is expected to poll a substantial vote.


GREEN RE-ELECTED

On March 3, Cris Moore, a Green Party leader, was re-elected to the City Council of Santa Fe, New Mexico. He received 59% in a 4-person race. The election was non-partisan.


B.A.N. WEB SITE CHANGE

Ballot Access News now has its own domain on the world-wide web, thanks to the generosity and energy of Bob Bickford of San Jose, California. The address is www.ballot-access.org


SOCIALIST WORKERS FINE REDUCED

On February 4, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission reduced the fine levied against the Socialist Workers Party Campaign from $4,900 to $330. The fine is to punish the campaign for not reporting the names of contributors. However, the Commission will not do anything further to force the names to be revealed. The Socialist Workers Party has not decided whether to file a lawsuit against the fine. Ever since the 1970's, courts (including the U.S. Supreme Court) and administrative bodies have excused the Communist and Socialist Workers Parties from revealing the names of their campaign contributors, since evidence showed that members of those parties, when identified publicly, were somewhat likely to suffer harassment. The FEC exempted the Socialist Workers Party from reporting its campaign contributors through the year 2002.


NEW MEXICO REFORM PARTY DEMOTED

The New Mexico Reform Party is now a qualified minor party, rather than a qualified major party. Major parties in New Mexico must fulfill two requirements: (1) poll 5% for a statewide race in the previous election; (2) hold membership of at least three-tenths of 1%, near the beginning of any election year. The Reform Party met the first requirement in 1996, but did not get its registration up to the required level last month. It needed 2,617 registrants, but had only 174.


POLL SHOWS DISCONTENT WITH SYSTEM

In January, Rasmussen Research published these poll results: 46% of U.S. residents believe that our political system does not produce a government which reflects the will of the people. 40% believe that our government does reflect the will of the people. 13% are not sure.

Only 27% believe that the contest between a Democrat and a Republican offers the voters a clear choice between opposing political philosophies. For more information on this poll, see the world-wide web at www.PortraitofAmerica.com


Ballot Access News. is published by and copyright by Richard Winger ban@igc.apc.org. Note: subscriptions are available!
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