|This issue was originally printed on cream paper.|
March 1998 has been one of the best months in the history of ballot access reform. Significant improvements were signed into law in Virginia and Wyoming, and the Colorado legislature passed an excellent bill (although Colorado Governor Roy Romer has not yet signed that bill).
Colorado: HB 1110 passed the legislature on March 26. The Governor has until April 13 to sign or veto it. 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) polled 5% for any statewide race in either of the last two elections. The bill takes effect in time to be used in this year's election.
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. To illustrate how bad the old law was, in 1994 (the last time the calculation was made) a new party which wished to run candidates in all partisan offices in the state, would have needed 279,832 valid signatures, to be collected in less than two months! Under the bill, no signatures are needed for groups with 1,000 registered members.
Virginia: SB 316 was signed into law on March 16. It lowers 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. It lowers the number for U.S. House candidates from .5% (about 1,600 signatures) to a flat 1,000. It doesn't take effect until next year. For statewide petitions, there must be 400 signatures from each congressional district (previously there had to be 200 each).
Wyoming: SF 33 was signed into law on March 20. It lowers the number of signatures for minor parties and independent candidates to 2% of the last congressional vote cast (statewide, 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 could be met for any of three offices, U.S. House, governor, or Secretary of State.
The old petition requirement for minor parties was 8,000 signatures; and for independent candidates was 5% of the last congressional vote cast, or 10,500 signatures this year.
Maryland: All three of the ballot access bills have passed one house, but not the other. The legislature adjourns April 13 and activists are cautiously optimistic that the bills will pass by that date. The bills are HB 118, SB 123, and SB 27.
On March 20, the South Carolina Senate passed S 399, which legalizes write-ins for president at the general election. The bill is by Senator James Bryan (D-Laurens). South Carolina and Nebraska are currently the only states which permit write-ins generally, but ban them for president. Presidential write-ins were legal in South Carolina until 1982, when they were banned. The bill now must pass the House before adjournment in mid-June.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Arkansas Educational TV Commission v Forbes back on October 8, and there is still no decision, six months later. It is likely to be released any day now. The question is whether the government may sponsor candidate debates and invite only the Democratic and Republican nominees.
Florida voters will vote on whether to improve ballot access for minor party and independent candidates on November 3, 1998. The matter will be on the ballot as "Revision 6".
"Revision 6" will ask the voters if they wish to amend the State Constitution to: (1) provide equal ballot access procedures for all candidates; (2) put the state's current procedures for public funding of statewide candidates in the Constitution; (3) amend an obsolete reference to the minimum age for voters from 21 to 18; (4) provide that in cases in which there will be only one candidate running in the general election, the primary for that office should be open to all registered voters; (5) make school board elections non-partisan; (6) let lieutenant governor candidates run in the primary without being teamed with a gubernatorial candidate. The voters must vote for or against these proposals as a single package.
Current Florida ballot access procedures are the strictest in the nation. Minor parties must submit 242,000 valid signatures, if they wish to run statewide candidates this year. They must also pay large filing fees. All the signatures must be obtained on forms that have room for only a single petition. All signatures must be collected in a 6-month period.
One asset in the campaign for Revision 6 will be that proponents will probably be able to say that in 1998, Florida is one of only 3 states with statewide elections, in which not a single minor party or independent candidate appears on the ballot (the other two states will probably be Alabama and Maryland). This may help to persuade Florida voters that they are being cheated out of the normal range of choices that voters in other states usually have.
Ever since 1996, the Federal Election Commission staff has been studying whether the Commission on Presidential Debates broke FEC rules, when it excluded Ross Perot from the October 1996 presidential debates. Finally, on February 6, the FEC General Counsel reported to the Commissioners that, in his view, the exclusion was unlawful.
However, on February 24, the Commission voted 5-0 (with no explanation) to ignore the staff recommendation, and to dismiss Perot's complaint.
The staff noted that the Commission on Presidential Debates (which is headed by former national chairmen of the Democratic and Republican Parties) excluded Perot because "he didn't have a realistic chance to win".
However, the Debates Commission didn't subject Bob Dole to the same test. No national poll ever showed that Dole had a realistic chance to win. He was behind from the moment he was nominated, in August, until election day.
The staff also noted that the "realistic chance to win" criteria is inherently subjective, since it concerns prediction. Also, the staff cited evidence that the Commission on Presidential Debates did not make its own decision, but deferred to the dictates of the Clinton and Dole campaigns.
Washington Post syndicated columnist David Broder condemned the FEC in his March 24 column.
Perot will file a new lawsuit against the FEC. His 1996 lawsuit on this subject was dismissed on the grounds that the FEC hadn't yet acted.
HR 3068, the bill to allow states to use proportional representation in congressional elections, gained 4 co-sponsors in the last month: Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Loretta Sanchez of California, and Alcee Hastings and Carrie Meek of Florida. The bill now has eleven co-sponsors in addition to the sponsor, Cynthia McKinney of Georgia.
On April 1, by a vote of 7-2, the Louisiana House Governmental Affairs Committee passed HB 192, which attempts to comply with the December 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision Foster v Love. In that decision, the Supreme Court said Louisiana must obey a federal law which says that states must hold congressional elections in November. Louisiana, ever since 1978, has been electing them in its October blanket primary (unless no one gets 50% in the primary; then there is a November run-off).
HB 192 provides that if only one candidate files, or if only two candidates file, there will be no primary. Instead, the single candidate, or the pair of candidates, will run in November.
If three or more candidates file, the election is held in the primary. If someone gets 50% in the primary, that candidate will be listed as the only candidate in the general election. Such an "election" would be rather meaningless, since Louisiana doesn't permit write-in votes. There would be no means for a voter to vote against a single candidate. Of course, a voter could always abstain, and the candidate's vote will be tallied.
HB 192 also provides that if Congress exempts Louisiana from the federal law which tells states to hold congressional elections in November, then the bill is automatically repealed. HB 192 will probably be voted on in the Louisiana House on April 6. Its chief sponsor is "Pepe" Bruneau (R-New Orleans).
Governor Mike Foster has appealed to Congress to grant Louisiana an exemption from the law. However, Congressman Bob Livingston (R-Metairie), one of Louisiana's most influential members of Congress, is opposed to the exemption, and therefore it isn't likely to pass. It has not yet even been introduced.
Opponents of Louisiana's blanket primary are disappointed that HB 192 is making headway. They had hoped that, since the state had to change its system anyway, it might abandon that blanket primary system.
Representative Bill Graves (R-Oklahoma City) has promised to introduce a bill next year to reduce the number of signatures needed for new parties. Now that Wyoming has eased its procedures, Oklahoma is the only state in the nation with a petition of 5% of the last vote cast, for statewide minor party or independent candidate ballot access.
Graves has even been trying to find a way to introduce the bill this year, but the only way to do it is to amend another election law bill, and he has had no luck so far.
Back on October 15, 1997, the U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd circuit, issued an interesting decision which will serve as a precedent giving political parties more control over their name. In United We Stand America v United We Stand America New York, the court ruled that political organizations enjoy trademark protection for their names. Although the plaintiff is not a political party, the court analyzed the case as though it were a political party. The case is reported at 128 F 3d 86. The losing side filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2, 97-1460. That Court has not yet said whether it will hear the appeal, but it isn't likely.
Recently, two courts upheld state laws which make it more difficult to get initiatives on the ballot:
1. Arizona: on September 18, 1997, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld state law that initiatives can only be circulated by registered voters who reside in the jurisdiction which will vote on the proposed initiative. McDowell Mountain Ranch Land Coalition v Vizcaino, 945 P 2d 312.
2. Washington: on March 20, U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Bryan (a Reagan appointee) upheld a law which requires companies which hire initiative petition circulators to disclose the names, addresses and amounts paid, for each circulator. Washington Initiatives Now v Warheit, C97-5427.
1. Arizona: federal Judge William Browning, who is hearing the Green Party challenge to the state's independent candidate procedure, will hold an oral argument in the case. This is a good sign. The law provides that no one can sign for an independent candidate except registered independents, and is so severe in practice that no independent candidate for statewide office or congress has ever complied with it, since it was passed in 1993. Campbell v Hull, cv96-444.
2. Arkansas: on April 13, there will be a hearing in the 8th circuit in Russell v Burris, 97-3922, over contribution limits of $100 for legislative races. The judges will be Roger Wollman & C. A. Beam (Reagan appointees), and Morris Arnold (Bush appointee).
3. California: on March 23, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Bates v Jones, the state term limits case. The 9th circuit had upheld the law.
4. Florida: on December 8, 1997, the State Court of Appeals ruled that even though the legislature repealed the Trust Fund for public financing of statewide candidates, public financing itself is still in the law, and the state must fund it out of general revenues. Sec. of State v Milligan, 704 So 2d 152 (First Dist.).
5. Hawaii: on March 27, the 9th circuit ruled that blank votes may be treated as "no" votes, on the ballot question of whether a constitutional convention should be held. The lower court had ruled that since the state had changed the rules after the election on the effect of "blank" votes, the election was unfair. The 9th circuit disagreed, feeling that voters who didn't care enough to vote either "Yes" or "No" on an issue, have no reason to complain about the result. Bennett v Yoshina, 97-16408.
6. Illinois: on April 1, a hearing was held in Orr v Edgar, 97-co152, Cook Co. Circuit Court, over whether the state is constitutionally required to provide a "party lever" device on ballots. The lawsuit was brought by Cook County government, after the state legislature abolished the device by which voters can cast a straight-party vote with a single motion.
7. Louisiana: there will be a hearing in May in the State Supreme Court in Republican Party v Foster, 98-ca-0308, over whether the state can tell the Republican Party State Central Committee that it must install the state's Republican congressmen as Committee members.
8. Nebraska: on March 9, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Dobrovolny v Moore, 97-1187, over whether a state can force initiative proponents to circulate the petition before they know exactly how many signatures will be needed.
9. New Mexico (1): on April 8, the State Supreme Court hears New Mexico Green Party v Secretary of State, in which the party argues that it has a right to have "none of the above" on its own primary ballots, so that members who desire that the party not nominate anyone for a particular office are able to implement their will. Many Greens feel that the party should not run anyone for Governor this year, but since the party nominates by primary, there is nothing the party can do (other than winning this lawsuit) to prevent the single candidate on this year's primary ballot from becoming the nominee.
New Mexico (2): on April 2, a state court upheld a law which makes it illegal for anyone holding county office to run for any other public office, within two years of leaving county office. But he put the candidate on the ballot anyway, on the technicality that Probate Judge isn't a county office. Padilla v Cibola County Clerk, 1333cv-98-00050, Cibola Dist. Ct.
10. North Carolina: on March 31, a federal district court held a hearing on the state's new congressional districts. The people who complained about "racial gerrymandering" are not satisfied with the state's new districts, and seek more changes. Cromartie v Hunt, 4-96cv-104-BO.
11. Ohio: on April 2, the 6th circuit upheld procedures for checking petition signatures, and also the number of signatures required for independent candidates for district office, 1% of the last vote cast. Miller v Lorain County Board of Elections, 96-4267.
12. Pennsylvania: a decision is expected soon in Nominating Petition of Phil Berg, 250 m.d. 1998, state court, Dauphin County. The issue is the distribution requirement for petitions for statewide candidates to get on a primary ballot. They require 2,000 signatures, and 200 signatures from each of ten counties. Pennsylvania is the last state which still has a county-based distribution requirement for statewide candidate petitions; all the others were long ago held unconstitutional, on the grounds that counties have unequal populations and that "one man, one vote" principles forbid such requirements. Berg is a Democrat running for Governor.
The Maine Reform Party was not able to place any candidate for Governor on its own primary ballot this year. State law requires all statewide primary candidates to collect 2,000 signatures. Only members of the candidate's own party may sign. Obtaining 2,000 signatures from the ranks of registered Republicans or registered Democrats is not particularly difficult, since each of those parties has almost 300,000 members.
However, the 2,000-signature requirement has never been successfully used by any other party. The Reform Party has about 25,000 members, and it is very difficult to collect 2,000 signatures from a pool of 25,000, scattered around the state. Qualified minor parties in Maine during the last twenty years have been Libertarian, Green and Reform, and none of them have ever been able to overcome the problem.
The Reform Party could still run a candidate for Governor this year if it can get 4,000 of its members to write-in the name of some candidate in its June primary. Or, it can recruit someone to run as an independent for Governor, and if the independent receives 5% of the vote in November, the vote can be used to maintain the party. If no gubernatorial candidate loyal to the Reform Party polls 5% this November, the party will be disqualified.
In the states listed above, the deadline has already passed for candidates to seek their own party's nomination, so it is already possible to know how many candidates each qualified party will be running for U.S. House of Representatives this November. However, in a few states above, it is still not too late for new parties to qualify; in such instances "-??-" above stands for "undetermined". "OTHER" column refers to Peace & Freedom in California, Patriot in South Carolina, Indp. American Party and Independent Party in Utah.
1. Arizona: HB 2336, which would have created a "primary" for independent voters to nominate a single independent candidate, has been dropped by its sponsor.
2. California: SB 1999 passed the Senate Elections Committee on April 1. It moves the primary in presidential election years from June to the first Tuesday in March.
California (2): SB 1505 passed the Senate unanimously on April 2. This is the bill mentioned in the last B.A.N. which provides for a semi-closed presidential primary.
3. Florida: Representative Lori Edwards, who had promised to introduce a bill to ease ballot access for minor party and independent candidates, now says it would be futile for her to do so, since no sponsor for such a bill can be found in the Senate.
4. Mississippi: last month the legislature passed HCR 61, which would amend the State Constitution to provide that out-of-state petitioners would not be permitted to circulate initiative petitions. It would be retroactive, and would disqualify from the ballot pending initiatives which have already finished circulating their petitions. The voters will vote on it in November.
Author: William S. Bike
The subtitle of this book is "A Comprehensive Guide to Electoral Success". The book is 240 pages and is $27.00 + $3.00 shipping. It is by William S. Bike, who once covered political campaigns in Chicago, once was a fundraiser for the University of Illinois, and now is a political campaign consultant. Order from the Denali Press, PO Box 021535, Juneau, AK 99802. (907)-586-6014. E-mail: email@example.com.
This is an entertaining, easy-to-read "how-to" book: how to run for office and maximize one's chances of success. The book is organized like an encyclopedia, with chapters on particular topics arranged alphabetically. The topics are Advertising, Alliances, Business (this chapter ought to be called "budget"), Campaign literature, Campaigning, Candidate, Comportment, Constituency, Contact, Creativity, Debates, Election Day, Events, Family, Fieldwork, Functions (this chapter could be called "delegating"), Fundraising, Headquarters, Issues, Legal Issues, Management, Media, Media kit,. Organization, Party choice, Polling, Research, Resources, Speeches, Strategy, Zenith.
Even after one has read it, one who is actually working on a campaign will find it useful to re-refer to it constantly, since it is filled with practical ideas. The book suffers slightly because the author assumes that politics in Illinois is similar to politics throughout the U.S.A. (for instance, he seems to assume that all states use the "challenge" system for checking petition validity).
The book contains 15 appendices giving specialized information on how to carry out certain tasks, or how to find additional resources. The book is useful for small-budget campaigns.
The Texas primary was held on March 10, the earliest primary of the year. Only 600,000 voters voted in the Republican primary, and only 520,000 voted in the Democratic primary, even though Texas has 10,600,000 registered voters (in Texas, voters do not register as members of any particular party). Fewer than 11% of the registered voters voted. In 1996, by contrast, almost 2,000,000 voters participated in the Texas primaries.
The low turnout is good news for the Reform and U.S. Taxpayers Parties, both of which are circulating petitions to qualify the party. Primary voters can't sign such petitions.
|FULL PARTY||CAND.||REFORM||LIB'T||NAT LAW||TAXPAYR||GREEN|
|Alaska||(reg.) 6,403||#2,453||*3||already on||*3||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||*(reg.) 224||*4,478||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|
|Georgia||38,113||#38,113||already on||already on||0||0||0||Jul 14|
|Hawaii||5,450||25||0||*already on||*finished||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||*2,200||*2,000||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||*500||*0||*0||*0||*Jul 28|
|Michigan||30,891||30,891||already on||already on||*1,200||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||*3,000||0||0||0||Aug 5|
|New Jersey||no procedure||#1,300||*200||*700||*150||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||*1,000||0||0||Jan 5|
|Oklahoma||60,336||0||already on||0||0||*12,000||0||Jun 1|
|Oregon||18,282||13,292||already on||already on||already on||*2,400||already on||Aug 25|
|Pennsylvania||no procedure||#24,390||*500||*1,500||*0||*2,500||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|
|Texas||43,963||43,963||*5,000||already on||too late||*1,500||*0||May 24|
|Utah||2,000||#300||already on||already on||already on||already on||*too late||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||*25||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, and West Virginia have no statewide offices up in 1998, so for them, table is for US House.
The U.S. Taxpayers Party will hold its presidential nominating convention in early September, 1999. It will be in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. In the last presidential election, the party didn't nominate for president until mid-August 1996, hoping that Patrick Buchanan might accept the nomination after being badly treated at the Republican National Convention. But for the 2000 election, the party has decided to forget the idea of attracting a "big name" who might be not be available until the summer of 2000.
1. California, congress, 22nd district: Capps (Democrat) 53.11%; Bordonaro (Republican) 45.14%; Bakhaus (Libertarian) 1.75%. In November 1996, the vote in this district was Democratic 48.45%; Republican 44.22%; independent 4.03%; Reform 1.63%; Libertarian .91%; Natural Law .76%.
2. Florida, state senate, 17th district: John Laurent (Republican) 52.76%; Tom Mimms (Democrat) 37.42%; Carl Strang (Libertarian) 9.81%. In November 1996, the vote in this district was Democratic 55.19%; Republican 44.81%.
3. Northport, New York: a Green Party activist, James Corrigan, was elected Village Trustee. The election was partisan; Corrigan used the label "Good Neighbor Party".
The Illinois primary was March 17. Neither the Associated Press nor the State Board of Elections gathered vote totals for the Reform Party on election night, and the State Board still hasn't released any figures. Reform Party activists laboriously gathered fragmentary county results, and it appears that some members of both factions won.
The February 9, 1998 New York Times carried a quarter-page obituary for Sam Marcy, founder of the Workers World Party, who died in New York at the age of 86. The obituary mistakenly said that the party "has never drawn more than 20,000 votes in a presidential election". Actually, the Workers World Party polled 29,083 votes in 1996 for president. The party's newspaper, Workers World, ran a story criticizing the Times obituary on various grounds, but Workers World did not mention the Times' vote error.
The March 17, 1998 New York Times carried an obituary for Dr. Benjamin Spock, which began on page one and completely filled an inside page. The obituary noted that Spock had been the Peoples Party presidential candidate in 1972, and its vice-presidential candidate in 1976, and even listed some major planks in the party's platform. Spock died on March 15 in California. He was 94.
Ellen Craswell, Republican nominee for Governor of Washington state in 1996, left the Republican Party last month and joined the U.S. Taxpayers Party. Other former Republican Party officers have joined the Taxpayers Party over the last few years as well, generally over dissatisfaction with the Republican Party's failure to do enough to restrict legal abortions.
The Initiative and Referendum Institute has been launched, to defend the initiative process. The Honorary Chairman is Mississippi Governor Kirk Fordyce. The president is M. Dane Waters, who once worked as an Advance Representative for Vice-President Dan Quayle, and who most recently was National Field Director for U.S. Term Limits. The Institute is a 501c(3) non-profit foundation which will pursue legal action to defend the initiative, as well as conduct research on the history of the initiative. It can be reached at 1825 I Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington DC 20006. (202)-429-5539.