Ballot Access News -- March 6, 1999

Volume 14, Number 12

This issue was originally printed on white paper.

Table of Contents
  1. PARTY EXPENDITURE LIMIT STRUCK DOWN
  2. MONTANA PROGRESS
  3. PREFERENCE VOTING
  4. WEST VIRGINIA PROGRESS
  5. GEORGIA HEARING
  6. OKLAHOMA STALL
  7. ALABAMA BILL
  8. ARKANSAS BILL
  9. VIRGINIA BILL LOSES
  10. RESTRICTIVE BILLS
  11. REFORM PARTY LOSES CAMPAIGN FINANCE SUIT
  12. OTHER LAWSUIT NEWS
  13. 2000 PETITIONING FOR PRESIDENT (table)
  14. 1998 STATE HOUSE VOTE (table)
  15. 1998 STATE HOUSE PERCENTAGES (table)
  16. PEROT '96 OFFICE WILL CLOSE
  17. NOTA INITIATIVE
  18. CALIFORNIA SPECIAL ELECTION
  19. IRS GRANTS TAX-EXEMPT STATUS TO THE COMMISSION ON FAIR ELECTIONS
  20. LOUISIANA SPECIAL ELECTION
  21. Subscription Information

PARTY EXPENDITURE LIMIT STRUCK DOWN

U.S. DISTRICT COURT PUTS PARTIES ON A PAR WITH CANDIDATES

On February 18, a U.S. District Court Judge in Colorado struck down the federal law which limits how much money parties can spend on the campaigns of their congressional candidates. Federal Election Commission v Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee, no. cv-89-N-1159. The decision is by Edward Nottingham, a Bush appointee. The FEC is appealing.

If the decision stands, it removes an oddity in federal campaign law, that candidates were permitted to spend as much money as they wished (unless the candidate accepted public campaign funds), whereas political parties could not spend freely. It is important to note that the decision has nothing to do with campaign contributions to political parties, which are still limited.

Back on June 26, 1996, in this same case, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that parties are free to make "independent expenditures", but this had little practical effect, since it is almost unheard of for political parties to support their candidates while not communicating with them (by definition of "independent expenditures", the person or group making them must not coordinate with the candidate).

Nottingham's decision reads like a political science journal article about the role that political parties ought to play. He wrote, "The FEC seeks to broaden the definition of corruption to the point that it intersects with the very framework of representative government. Corruption cannot be defined so broadly. Nor can corruption be defined to include whatever it is that political parties and candidates do which the FEC does not like... Political parties, and the central activities in which they engage, are a paradigm of the right to freedom of association as guaranteed by the First Amendment...

...The purpose of political parties is to gain control of government, rather than to pursue single goals, as PACs do... Political parties function, in large part, to elect persons who represent the shared political beliefs of their members... Party pressure over candidates -- despite the FEC's attempts to cast it otherwise, is not corruption... Party influence over candidates is the nature of the party-candidate relationship... A political party functions to promote political ideas and policy objectives over time and through elected officials. Give the purpose of political parties in our electoral system, a political party's decision to support a candidate who adheres to the parties' belief is not corruption. Conversely, a party's refusal to provide a candidate with electoral funds because the candidate's views are at odds with party positions is not an attempt to exert improper influence."

Back when this case was in the U.S. Supreme Court, four of the nine justices wrote separately to say that they felt the expenditure cap on party spending was unconstitutional (the other five judges expressed no opinion on this), so it seems fairly likely that the Nottingham decision will ultimately be upheld.

Judicial opinions upholding the First Amendment rights of political parties are always helpful to minor parties as well as to the two major parties. If the courts would consistently uphold the First Amendment rights of political parties, the parties, rather than state government, could decide for themselves who should participate in their nomination process; could decide for themselves whether to jointly (with another party) nominate a candidate; could decide for themselves how candidates may receive the party's nomination and even be freed from laws which tell them that they cannot nominate a non-member of the party.


MONTANA PROGRESS

On February 22, HB 585 passed the Montana House by a vote of 96-4. It would reduce the number of signatures needed for new parties, and for statewide independents, from 5% of the winning candidate's vote (new parties need 5% of the winning candidate for Governor's vote), to an exact 5,000 signatures. Since the existing law for 2000 requires 16,039 signatures, this would be a dramatic improvement. Currently, Montana requires more signatures to get a minor party or independent presidential candidate on the ballot, divided by the number of registered voters, than any other state (when the easier method in each state is compared). Montana requires signatures from 2.51% of the voters; second highest is Oklahoma at 1.77%.

The bill, by Rep. Rick Jore (R-Lake County) was initiated by the U.S. Taxpayers Party. Although the party has helped lobby for better ballot access laws in many states, this is the first time a bill initiated by the U.S. Taxpayers Party has made substantial headway. The Senate will vote on the bill in mid-March.


PREFERENCE VOTING

On February 28, the New Mexico State Senate passed SJR 12, which would provide for preference voting for all federal and state office. The vote was 22-1. The New Mexico Senate has 42 members. When the vote was taken, all of the Republican Senators were absent; they had walked out earlier to protest a Democratic maneuver on an education bill.

If the bill passes the House, then the voters will decide whether to add the provision to the State Constitution, perhaps at a special election this year.

The Vermont bill for preference voting, H 199, still hasn't made any headway through the legislature.


WEST VIRGINIA PROGRESS

On February 25, the Senate passed SB 591, which removes the penalty for any voter signing a minor party or independent candidate petition, and then voting in the primary.

Currently, a voter can't sign a petition and then vote in a primary. This West Virginia bill is a half-step toward eliminating that restriction. Under current law, and under the bill, a petition on a signature by a registered voter is valid. If the voter later votes in the primary, the signature is still valid, but the voter is subject to misdemeanor penalties. If the bill passes, the penalties will be extinct, which will make it easier to persuade voters to sign a petition.


GEORGIA HEARING

On March 2, the Georgia House Government Affairs Committee heard testimony in favor of HB 672, which would drastically ease ballot access for minor party and independent candidates. The bill will be taken up again on March 4, and the Committee will vote then.


OKLAHOMA STALL

HB 1742, which would cut the number of signatures for a new party from almost 60,000 signatures, to an exact 10,000, failed to receive a Committee hearing by February 22, so it cannot pass this year. However, it could still pass next year.


ALABAMA BILL

Rep. Bob McKee (R-Montgomery) has introduced HB 131, which lowers the vote for a party to remain on the ballot from 20%, to 3%. McKee will amend the bill to also lower the number of signatures, from 3% of the last gubernatorial vote to 1%, if there is support. To help pass this bill, contact Ray Vaughn, 300B Water St. #214, Montgomery Al 36104, wildlaw@aol.com, (334)-265-6529.


ARKANSAS BILL

Rep. Courtney Sheppard (D-El Dorado) has introduced HB 1766, which would lower the number of signatures for new parties from 3% of the last gubernatorial vote, to 10,000.


VIRGINIA BILL LOSES

HB 47, which would have created a petition procedure by which a group could become a qualified political party, lost in the Senate Privileges & Elections Committee on February 16. The bill had passed the House, but the Chair of the Senate Committee, Kevin Miller (R-Harrisonburg) refused to schedule it. Virginia is one of eleven states in which it is impossible for a group to become a qualified party, in advance of any particular election.


RESTRICTIVE BILLS

1. California: Last month, Senator John Lewis (R-Orange) introduced SB 365, which would make it more difficult for minor party candidates to get on primary ballots. It would also increase the difficulty for independent candidates to get on the general election ballot. Introduced at the request of the County Clerks Association, it would require separate petitions for ballot access, and in lieu of a filing fee. Under current law, one petition serves both purposes. Activists hope to meet with the County Clerks on March 12 to find a better solution.

2. New Hampshire: HB 375, which would increase petition requirements 7-fold, did not pass the House Election Law Committee on February 9. It has been sent for study.


REFORM PARTY LOSES CAMPAIGN FINANCE SUIT

On February 9, the 9th circuit issued a ruling in National Committee of Reform Party v FEC, 98-15443, upholding federal law which gives the 2000 Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns equal payments of $65,000,000, while giving the Reform Party only $12,000,000.

The decision, written by Judge Mary Schroeder, a Carter appointee, says, "Third parties have been completely incapable of matching the major parties' ability to raise money and win elections. Congress was, of course, aware of this fact of American life, and thus was justified in providing both major parties full funding and all other parties only a percentage of major-party entitlement...

"We conclude that the Reform Party has not stated a claim that the Act has resulted in invidious discrimination as applied to its campaigns."

That's as though a court in 1930 in the South had said, "Black voters have been completely incapable of matching white voters' ability to register to vote, and thus the state legislature was justified in providing higher poll taxes for black voters than for white voters".

In contrast to the federal law, Minnesota law provides equal public funding to all statewide candidates who poll at least 5% of the vote, showing that a model of equal payments to significant parties of varying size is practical.


OTHER LAWSUIT NEWS

1. Arizona: there will be a hearing in the Green Party's lawsuit against the independent candidate petition law on March 16. Campbell v Hull, cv96-444-TC. No one who is a registered member of a qualified party can sign for an independent candidate.

2. Colorado: the Libertarian Party recently dropped its lawsuit over the order of parties on the ballot.

3. D.C.: there will be a hearing on April 19 in Alexander v Daley, 1-98-2187, over whether the Constitution requires that D.C. residents have representation in Congress.

4. Iowa: on January 11, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Marcus v Iowa Public TV, 98-710, a debates case.

5. Montana: on Nov. 20, 1998, a U.S. District Court struck down a law banning corporations from using general funds to contribute for or against initiatives. Montana Chamber of Commerce v Argenbright, 28 F Supp 2d 593. The state is appealing.

6. Texas: last month, a lawsuit was filed against "early voting" in federal elections, on the grounds that federal law requires federal elections to be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Voting Integrity Project v Blomer, H99-0247, federal court, Houston.


2000 PETITIONING FOR PRESIDENT (table)

STATE REQUIREMENTS SIGNATURES COLLECTED DEADLINE
FULL PARTY CAND. LIB'T REFORM NAT LAW TAXPAYR GREEN
Alabama 39,536 5,000 29,500 0 0 0 0 July 3
Alaska (reg) 6,606 #2,410 already on already on 0 0 already on June 1
Arizona 13,565 es. #9,500 already on 0 0 0 0 May 20
Arkansas 21,181 #1,000 0 0 0 0 0 May 1
California (reg) 86,177 149,692 already on already on already on already on already on Oct 4, '99
Colorado (reg) 1,000 #pay fee already on unsettled already on 10 already on July 11
Connecticut no procedure #7,500 0 already on 0 0 already on Aug 11
Delaware es. (reg.) 235 es. 4,700 already on already on already on already on 14 Aug 19
D.C. no procedure es. #3,500 can't start can't start can't start can't start can't start Aug 15
Florida just be org. undetermnd unsettled unsettled unsettled unsettled unsettled undetermd
Georgia 39,094 #39,094 already on 0 0 0 0 Jul 11
Hawaii 6,015 #3,703 0 0 300 0 already on Apr 26
Idaho 9,835 4,918 already on already on already on already on 0 Aug 31
Illinois no procedure #25,000 can't start can't start can't start can't start can't start Aug 6
Indiana no procedure #30,717 already on 0 0 0 0 Jul 15
Iowa no procedure #1,500 0 0 0 0 0 Aug 17
Kansas 14,854 5,000 already on already on 0 already on 0 June 1
Kentucky no procedure #5,000 already on already on 0 0 0 Aug 30
Louisiana est. (reg) 135,000 #pay fee 691 already on 14 40 89 July 1
Maine 21,051 #4,000 0 0 0 0 already on Dec 16, '99
Maryland 10,000 es. 26,000 finished 0 0 0 0 Aug 7
Massachusetts est. (reg) 37,500 #10,000 already on 2,289 59 0 311 Feb 15
Michigan 30,272 30,272 already on already on already on 0 0 July 19
Minnesota 104,550 #2,000 0 already on 0 already on 0 June 1
Mississippi just be org. #1,000 already on already on already on already on 0 Jan. 14
Missouri 10,000 10,000 already on already on 0 already on 0 July 31
Montana 16,039 #16,039 already on already on already on 0 0 Mar 14
Nebraska 5,453 2,500 already on 200 0 0 0 Aug 1
Nevada 4,099 4,099 already on 0 already on already on 0 July 2
New Hampshire 9,569 #3,000 0 100 0 0 0 Aug 7
New Jersey no procedure #800 0 0 0 0 0 July 30
New Mexico 2,494 14,964 already on already on 0 0 already on Apr 4
New York no procedure #15,000 can't start already on can't start can't start already on Aug 21
North Carolina 51,324 es. 90,000 already on 0 0 0 0 May 18
North Dakota 7,000 1,000 0 already on 0 0 0 Dec 31, '99
Ohio 33,543 #5,000 50,000 0 22,000 0 0 Nov 21,'99
Oklahoma 43,680 36,202 0 0 0 0 0 June 1
Oregon 16,663 13,755 already on 100 0 0 already on Aug 28
Pennsylvania no procedure es. #25,000 can't start can't start can't start can't start can't start Aug 1
Rhode Island 15,323 #1,000 can't start already on can't start can't start can't start Aug 1
South Carolina 10,000 10,000 already on already on already on already on 0 May 7
South Dakota 6,505 #2,602 0 0 0 0 0 Apr 4
Tennessee 24,406 25 0 0 0 0 0 Apr 7
Texas 37,381 56,117 already on can't start can't start can't start can't start May 28
Utah 2,000 #300 already on 0 200 0 0 Feb 15
Vermont just be org. #1,000 already on 0 0 0 0 Jan 1
Virginia no procedure #10,000 can't start can't start can't start can't start can't start Aug 24
Washington no procedure #200 can't start can't start can't start can't start can't start Jul 1
West Virginia no procedure #6,365 already on 0 0 0 0 Aug 1
Wisconsin 10,000 #2,000 already on can't start can't start already on already on June 1
Wyoming 3,485 3,485 already on can't start can't start can't start can't start June 1
TOTAL STATES ON 27 18 9 10 10

"Deadline" refers to the procedure with the earliest deadline. The only other nationally-organized party which is on the ballot is the New Party, which is on in New York. The Reform Party has enough registrants in California as of last month's tally, that it has requalified. The Peace & Freedom Party will need to gather another 14,000 registrants before October 1999.


1998 STATE HOUSE VOTE (table)

Libt. Reform Nat. Law US Tax Green Socialist Free Soc Prohi Grassroots
Alabama 1,447
Alaska 127
Arizona 12,615 1,217
Arkansas 446
California 150,154 7,849 56,925 2,678 4,093
Colorado 21,084 733 4,432
Connecticut 818 110 732
Delaware 821 372
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii 3,348 219 213
Idaho 4,366 4,041 2,790 1,271
Illinois 1,813
Indiana 10,537
Iowa 3,844
Kansas 3,319 1,290
Kentucky 405
Maine 810 293 2,273 1,406
Maryland
Massachusetts 1,176 1,633 572
Michigan 27,789 494 1,618
Minnesota 1,121 17,937 1,270
Missouri 11,207 664 2,406
Montana 635 1,146
Nevada 606 6,274
New Hampshire 3,160
New Mexico 1,830
New York 319 77,440 1,153 366
North Carolina 16,834
North Dakota
Ohio 4,539 4,477
Oklahoma 1,179
Oregon 9,873 250 5,696 9,491 496
Pennsylvania 9,024 376 1,184 400
Rhode Island 134 850 1,026
South Carolina
South Dakota 644
Tennessee
Texas 4,473
Utah 2,900 1,354 1,084
Vermont 2,900 142
Washington 13,431 17,773 10,895 1,439
West Virginia 11,522
Wisconsin 3,990 5,895 177
Wyoming 1,490
TOTAL 333,040 140,080 70,894 39,330 17,210 9,668 2,301 1,656 1,412

The nine parties listed above are the only parties, other than the Democratic and Republican Parties, which had candidates on the ballot for the lower house of a state legislature in more than a single state. "Free Soc" = Freedom Socialist; "Prohi" = Prohibition. Parties which had candidates on the ballot for the lower house of a state legislature in just one state were: Conservative, New York, 284,185; Right to Life, New York, 59,213; Liberal, New York, 34,935; Peace & Freedom, California, 21,283; American, Utah, 8,748; Independence Party, Utah, 5,056; Progressive, Vermont, 2,565; Cool Moose, Rhode Island, 2,512; Alaska Independence, 2,255; New Party, New York, 2,096; Harold Washington Party, Illinois, 1,062; Freedom, New York, 620; Socialist Workers, Iowa, 428.


1998 STATE HOUSE PERCENTAGES (table)

Libt. Reform Nat.Law US Tax Green Socialist Free Soc Prohi Grassrts
Alabama 5.20
Alaska 4.19
Arizona 16.64 3.98
Arkansas 12.47
California 3.77 1.67 4.53 1.39 2.21
Colorado 6.84 5.92 11.05
Connecticut 5.79 1.27 7.72
Delaware 9.44 6.07
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii 11.18 2.48 2.67
Idaho 18.86 14.06 7.03 16.07
Illinois 4.13
Indiana 4.50
Iowa 6.09
Kansas 10.92 11.01
Kentucky 1.71
Maine 9.64 12.29 27.68 27.58
Maryland
Massachusetts 12.59 12.98 10.11
Michigan 2.87 1.93 2.86
Minnesota 8.33 9.45 9.67
Missouri 5.80 3.36 6.23
Montana 12.65 11.30
Nevada 4.45 24.19
New Hampshire 21.37
New Mexico 12.07
New York .77 3.17 2.04 1.80
North Carolina 8.77
North Dakota
Ohio 6.54 5.96
Oklahoma 16.32
Oregon 5.74 1.20 9.16 10.79 3.91
Pennsylvania 6.06 2.34 3.69 2.01
Rhode Island 6.44 10.81 29.71
South Carolina
South Dakota 16.86
Tennessee
Texas 6.27
Utah 5.17 5.55 12.00
Vermont 12.93 6.52
Washington 12.60 9.59 14.43 4.56
West Virginia 11.72
Wisconsin 8.12 6.39 1.06
Wyoming 16.18
MEDIAN 8.22 6.09 5.55 9.36 5.91 5.92 3.91 11.05 8.09

Percentages above are the total number of votes received by each party, divided by the total number of votes cast for all candidates, in the districts in which the particular party ran candidates. Parties which had candidates in just a single state got these percentages: Progressive, Vermont, 75.04%; Cool Moose, Rhode Island, 20.81%; Independence Party of Utah, 12.53%; Alaska Independence, 10.27%; New Party, New York, 9.60%; American, Utah, 8.47%; Socialist Workers, Iowa, 7.79%; Conservative, New York, 7.95%; Harold Washington, Illinois, 3.78%; Right to Life, New York, 3.72%; Peace & Freedom, California, 3.23%; Liberal, New York, , 2.12%; Freedom, New York, .72%. See the preceding chart for explanation of some party name abbreviations.


PEROT '96 OFFICE WILL CLOSE

On March 31, 1999, the Perot '96 office at 7616 LBJ Freeway, Dallas, Texas, will close. Although the office has technically not been the national office of the Reform Party, it has functioned as though it were, since Russell Verney, national chair of the Reform Party, has been working there. Verney will continue to be national chair, and will probably remain in Dallas, but the party won't have a physical headquarters.

Furthermore, it is likely that the lawsuit Perot '96 v Federal Election Commission, now pending in U.S. District Court in D.C., will be dropped. This is unfortunate, since the case is strong. The FEC has regulations requiring the Commission on Presidential Debates to use objective, neutral criteria in determining whom to invite into the general election presidential debates. The FEC staff determined that the Commission broke those regulations, but the Commissioners themselves refused to do anything about it. Thus, Perot sued the Commissioners. The case still hasn't been heard. The Reform Party may also drop its case against the distribution of public funding.


NOTA INITIATIVE

Al Shugart, a Pebble Beach, California, venture capitalist, is spending at least $1 million of his own money to qualify an initiative for the statewide ballot, to place "None of the Above" on all public office ballots in the state. The signatures are due in June and the measure is expected to qualify. If "NOTA" won, that would have no legal effect and the first-ranked candidate would still take office.


CALIFORNIA SPECIAL ELECTION

California will hold a special election to fill the vacant Assembly seat, 16th district, on March 30, between the Democratic nominee and the Green nominee. At the blanket primary for this same empty seat last month, the vote was Harris (Dem.) 48.75%, Russo (Dem.) 36.41%, Bock (Green) 8.72%, Palacios (Dem.) 6.11%. The Green candidate is expected to do quite well on March 30, since the Democratic nominee paid for a free chicken lunch for anyone who voted, and the practice got extensive bad publicity immediately after the primary.


IRS GRANTS TAX-EXEMPT STATUS TO THE COMMISSION ON FAIR ELECTIONS

On February 8, the Internal Revenue Service granted tax-exempt status to the Commission on Fair Elections. The Commission, still in the process of being organized, will serve as a 501(c)(3) organization to defend the interests of minor party and independent candidates, in the arena of ballot access, debate inclusion, public financing, alternative voting methods, and other problem areas. Contributors to 501(c)(3) organizations may deduct their gifts from federal income tax, if they itemize deductions.

The Commission will have 7 directors, who will made the day-to-day decisions, and who will generally be leaders of minor parties and allied groups. There will also be 12 Commissioners, who will set policy and, is it hoped, will be individuals of national renown and stature, such as Walter Cronkite, former Congressman John B. Anderson and Tim Penny, and Laurence Tribe. Not all of these individuals have necessarily agreed yet to serve as Commissioners, but they are named to give examples of the type of famous person who is being sought.

The two individuals who have worked hardest so far on the Commission are Tom Carlisle, 639 Whispering Hills Rd. #201, Boone, NC 28607, (828)-262-1449, carlisle@interpath.com; and attorney Tom Linzey, 2244 Lindsay Lot Rd., Shippensburg Pa 17257, (717)-530-0931, tal@cvns.net. Carlisle is with the Natural Law Party and Linzey is with the Green Party.

The Commission is the outgrowth of several meetings last year by the Coalition for Free & Open Elections (COFOE). COFOE is an informal coalition of nationally-organized minor parties, plus other organizations, all of whom support the goal of a fairer U.S. election system.


LOUISIANA SPECIAL ELECTION

Louisiana will hold a special election to fill the vacant seat in the U.S. House, First district, on May 1. If no one gets 50%, the two top vote-getters will hold a run-off on May 29, even if they are from the same party. Candidate filing is on March 17-19. Any Louisiana citizen over 25 may obtain a place on the ballot with a $600 fee.


Ballot Access News. is published by and copyright by Richard Winger ban@igc.apc.org. Note: subscriptions are available!
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Compilation copyright (c) 1999 Bob Bickford