|This issue was originally printed on green paper.|
On April 16, Washington Governor Gary Locke signed HB 1577, which moves the deadline for a minor party or independent presidential candidate to qualify, from the first week of July, to the last week of August. Until this bill passed, Washington had the fifth earliest deadline in the nation, for new party or independent presidential procedures (when the later of the two methods is compared). The only earlier states had been Texas, Arizona, Illinois and North Carolina.
The new Washington deadline will be 70 days before the general election, which ranges from August 24 to August 30, depending on the calendar.
Washington state ballot access for minor party and independent presidential candidates does not involve petitioning; rather, 200 voters must gather together on or before the deadline, in order to qualify a presidential candidate. Therefore, under the new legislation, a minor party which doesn't choose a presidential candidate until mid-August, may qualify. The bill doesn't change the deadline for non-presidential candidates. The bill was initiated by Gary McIntosh, state Elections Director.
Other Deadline Bills
1. North Carolina: SB 10, which improves both the new party petition deadline, and the independent candidate petition deadline, passed the Senate on April 3. Currently, party petitions are due in mid-May and independent petitions are due on June 30; the bill moves both deadlines to mid-July. Action is expected in the House this month.
2. Tennessee: SB 1619, which moves the non-presidential independent candidate deadline from early April to early May, had a hearing in the Senate Local and State Government Committee on May 1. The companion bill is HB 1539. The bills wouldn't affect the independent presidential deadline, which remains in August.
3. Indiana: SB 329, which moves all minor party and independent candidate petitions from July 15 to June 30, passed the legislature unanimously on April 29.
1. Alabama: HB 680 would provide that minor party and independent candidates could qualify for the ballot by paying a filing fee, instead of by petitioning. It was introduced March 22 by Rep. Riley Seibenhener, and has not advanced. HB 185, which would lower the vote test for a party to remain on from 20% to 10%, also hasn't advanced.
2. Kansas: SB 127 was signed into law on April 19. It repeals a requirement that petitioners for candidates must be registered voters, but still requires petitioners to be residents of the state.
3. Maine: LD 1228 would lower the number of signatures needed for a new, fully-qualified party from 5% of the last vote, to 1%; it would also lower the vote test from 5% to 1%. It has not yet advanced.
4. Massachusetts: H3085, which would let a party remain on the ballot if it met the vote test at either of the last two elections (instead of having to meet it every election), has a hearing in the Joint Committee on Election Laws on May 14.
5. New Hampshire: HB 436, which would have eliminated the procedure by which a new party can qualify a full slate of candidates with a single petition, was killed in Committee on March 15.
6. Oregon: SB 777, which makes it easier for a party to remain on the ballot, passed the Senate on March 28 by a vote of 23-3.
7. South Carolina: H 3370, to impose filing fees on minor party candidates, has not advanced and activists are optimistic that it will not pass. H 3276, to ban fusion, also has not moved since February.
8. Tennessee: HB 1805 and SB 1713 are identical bills which would let any minor party nominee who uses the independent candidate procedure, have his or her party label printed on the petition and on the ballot. SB 1713 has a hearing in the Senate State and Local Government Committee on May 8. Current law permits such labels only if the group had polled 5% for president at the last election. Minor parties always use the independent procedure in Tennessee because it is so much easier than the new party petition.
9. West Virginia: both ballot access reform bills, HB 2039 and HB 2928, failed to pass before adjournment.
10. Wyoming: SF 154 was signed into law on February 22. It repeals the $25 filing fee for write-in candidates who desire that their write-ins be counted. It also provides that a write-in candidate in a partisan primary must receive at least 3 write-in votes, in order to be nominated. Previously a write-in candidate could win a primary with as little as one vote, if no one else polled any votes.
1. Alaska: HB 193 passed the House on April 19. It provides for separate primary ballots for each party (existing law provides that the candidates of all qualified parties all appear on the same "bedsheet" primary ballot). It also provides that each qualified party must declare on September 1 of the year before an election, whether it desires to let non-members of the party vote in its primary or not.
2. Washington: the legislature's ordinary session adjourned, without passing any bill to reform the state's unconstitutional blanket primary. However, the Governor has placed the subject on the agenda for a special session, which is about to begin. If nothing passes by June 1, a federal court will design a new primary system.
Recently, B.A.N. compiled the total vote cast for each political party, and for all independent candidates, for each U.S. House election for the last 100 years. Several surprising conclusions appeared:
1. The margin between the total Republican vote for U.S. House, and the total Democratic vote for U.S. House, during the last 100 years, has seldom been close. In only five elections in the past 100 years has the margin between the Democratic total, and the Republican total, been less than 1% of the total vote cast for U.S. House. But see this errata.
Yet, despite the rarity of a close balance between the two major parties in votes cast, three of those five elections happen to have been the most recent three elections: 2000, 1998, and 1996. The only other such closely balanced years during the past 100 years have been 1950 and 1952. The period 1996-2000, therefore, has been an odd, almost freakish period. Although no one can now know whether this delicate balance will persist, history suggests that it won't.
During the past 100 years, the most lop-sided election was 1920, when Republican candidates polled 58.1% of the total House vote, and Democrats only polled 35.8%. The biggest Democratic margin over the Republicans was not, surprisingly, during the Great Depression; it was in 1974, the Watergate scandal year, when Democrats polled 57.1% to the Republicans' 40.5%.
2. The share of the voters who voted for minor party and independent candidates was higher in 2000 than it had been since 1938. See the graph on page 3. It shows that the "other" vote was very high after World War I, but that it declined during the late 1920's; then it rose again during the Great Depression, declined somewhat in 1940 but still remained high during World War II; then declined to unprecedented low levels during the period 1952-1964. It rose somewhat during the Vietnam conflict and stayed moderately high through 1982, then declined for the remainder of the eighties.
It rose in 1990, and in 1992 hit the highest level since 1938. It declined substantially in 1994 but has been rising ever since, and in 2000, it was even higher than it had been in 1992, by an eyelash (4.17% vs. 4.16%).
The relatively high "other" vote for the U.S. House in 1998 and 2000 is even more impressive when one remembers that during the period before 1944, there were "third" parties in Minnesota and Wisconsin which were so popular, they functioned as major parties within those states. The Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota ceased to exist in 1944, when it merged with the Democrats; the Progressive Party of Wisconsin dissolved itself in 1946. But before those two parties ceased to exist, they elected Governors, Senators and members of the House, and their vote totals, of course, substantially increased the total "other" vote for U.S. House.
These rules were followed, when the U.S. House vote was compiled:
1. Fusion: in states which permit fusion and which compile the vote separately for each party, the study credits each party with the vote cast under its own label. None of the other published compilations of this type of data take this approach, except for the compilations of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. States reporting the number of votes cast for a "fusion" candidate under each party label have been Connecticut, New York (after 1935), Pennsylvania (until 1977), Vermont (until 1977), South Carolina and Utah.
2. Blank votes: are not included.
3. Louisiana: between 1978 and 1996, this state held its congressional elections in September or October. On the rare occasions at which no one got 50% of the vote in the first election, the state held a run-off between the top two candidates in November. The study uses the election results from the Sept/Oct elections. All the other compilations do likewise, except for the compilation of the Clerk of the House.
4. Write-ins: if the official election returns include the name of a write-in candidate and that candidate's vote total, those votes are included. However, when official election returns only list a "scattering" total of miscellaneous write-ins, without naming any particular candidates, those "scattering" totals are omitted.
5. Delegates to the House: elections for Delegate to the House are not included. Delegates represent territories or the District of Columbia, and may not vote on the floor of the House.
6. At-large seats: before 1965, some states elected at-large members, even though those states were entitled to more than one member. When a state had only at-large elections, each party was credited with the vote cast for its best candidate. When a state used a mixture of at-large and district seats, each party was credited with whichever yielded the higher vote total... either the sum of all its district candidates, or the vote cast for its best at-large candidate.
7. Special elections: are not included, even if they are simultaneous with a regularly-scheduled election.
8. Determining party nominees: During the 1920's, there were two factions of the Republican Party in Mississippi and South Carolina; both factions ran candidates. In such cases, the study includes both factions in the Republican tally. In 1980 the New Mexico Republican Party sponsored a write-in candidate because it was unable to qualify a ballot-listed candidate; that vote is credited to the party. However, when election returns list a "Democratic" nominee and an "Independent Democratic" nominee, the vote for the latter is not tallied as "Democratic".
The study could never have been carried out, without United States Congressional Elections 1788-1997, by Michael J. Dubin, published in 1998 by McFarland & Co., Jefferson, N.C. The book is the only published source which lists all candidates for Congress and their vote totals. It makes no compilation of the total vote received by any party in any given election, and any errors in the study are solely B.A.N.'s fault.
1. Alaska: on April 10, U.S. District Court Judge James Singleton, a Bush, Sr., appointee, struck down state law which makes it illegal for anyone to donate more than $5,000 to a political party in any year. The ruling only applies to money which is not earmarked to help the campaign of a particular candidate. The state plans to appeal. Jacobus v State of Alaska, A97-272cv(JKS).
2. Arizona: on May 1, the State Appeals Court heard Browne v Bayless, CA-cv00-0546. This is the Libertarian Party's challenge to the mid-June petition deadline for independent presidential candidates. The hearing went very well.
3. California: on April 17, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles to eliminate punchcard vote-counting devices. Currently, nine California counties use them; the lawsuit charges that the voters in those counties are not being treated equally with voters in counties which use more reliable vote-counting systems. Common Cause v Jones, S094236. The case was assigned to Judge Stephen Wilson, a Reagan appointee.
4. Colorado: on April 16, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the state's appeal of Campbell v Davidson, 00-1358. The lower court had ruled that states cannot require candidates for Congress to be registered voters. This is the third ballot access case this year, in which the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a state's appeal. As noted in the March 1 B.A.N., that Court had accepted every ballot access appeal brought by a state during the years 1982-2000.
5. District of Columbia: on March 5, a U.S. District Court struck down a federal regulation creating a "no-demonstration zone" 250 feet around the Capitol Building. Lederman v USA, 131 F Supp 2d 46.
6. Maryland: on March 30, state court judge Michael Loney denied a rehearing in Green Party of Maryland v Board of Elections, c2000-657880, A.A. Circuit Court.
The issue is whether a state may require a small qualified party to submit petitions for its non-presidential nominees, when large parties are not required to submit such petitions. Judge Loney said that perhaps the U.S. Supreme Court decision of February 28, Cook v Gralike, is relevant, but since the case will be appealed no matter how he rules, he prefers to let the case proceed quickly to the Appeals Court.
7. Nevada: on April 4, a U.S. District Court ruled that the city of Las Vegas cannot outlaw distribution of leaflets in the Fremont Street Mall (which is quasi-public property), even though the Mall is surrounded by public sidewalks on which leafleting is permitted. ACLU v City of Las Vegas, cv-S-97-1419-DWH.
8. North Carolina: on April 18, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Hunt v Cromartie, 99-1864, that states may take race into account when congressional and legislative district boundaries are drawn, as long as race isn't the sole criterion.
9. Ohio: on April 9, the 6th circuit denied a rehearing in Schrader v Blackwell, 00-3044. The Libertarian Party plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the decision, which denies partisan labels for candidates who use the independent petition procedure. On April 29 the Ohio Green Party voted to support the appeal with an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court.
10. Utah: on April 17, a 3-judge U.S. Supreme Court upheld the practice of including overseas government employees in the Census, while excluding other overseas U.S. citizens (for reapportionment purposes). State of Utah v Evans, 2:01-cv-23B. The state is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court. If Mormon missionaries overseas were counted, Utah would gain a U.S. House seat.
11. Virginia: Tex Wood, an independent candidate for Senate last year, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case against the law which requires a statewide petition to contain 400 signatures from each congressional district. Wood v Quinn, 00-1455.
12. national: on April 30, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Ralph Nader's appeal, on whether the Federal Election Commission should have barred the Commission on Presidential Debates from receiving tax-exempt donations from for-profit corporations, to pay for the presidential debates. Nader v FEC, 00-1244.
On March 30, the California Secretary of State ruled that, notwithstanding his loss in Schaefer v Jones, no one will be permitted to run in a partisan primary for Congress, who is not registered to vote. He cited §8001 of the Elections Code, which says that no one may run in a partisan primary unless he or she has been registered in that party for at least three months. He said unregistered candidates for Congress can only be independent candidates, or write-in candidates.
§8001 was not discussed in the Schaefer case, so technically it hasn't been declared unconstitutional as to candidates for Congress. However, if the state had the power to erect new qualifications for Congress, by placing them in the section of the law that governs entry into a partisan primary, then obviously advocates of term limits could do a new initiative, providing that three-term members of Congress are barred from running in a partisan primary.
It is obvious from the U.S. Supreme Court's 1995 decision, U.S. Term Limits v Thornton, that such an attempt would fail. That case was brought by Congressman Ray Thornton of Arkansas, who himself was being kept off the Democratic primary ballot. States can't bypass Article I of the U.S. Constitution by placing their additional qualifications in the section of the law governing partisan primaries.
Perhaps a case could be made that political parties could add to the qualifications for Congress, by party bylaws which might exclude certain kinds of congressional candidates from entry into the party's primary.
1. California: the Green Party is likely to challenge a state law which forbids anyone from running in the party's primary in March 2002, if he or she were registered as a member of any other qualified party, at any time since December 2000. The case would depend on Tashjian v Republican Party of Connecticut, a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court case which said, in dicta, that states cannot prevent parties from nominating non-members for public office. However, the Green Party first needs to pass a bylaw, setting forth its own wishes; such a bylaw can't be created until the party's convention in September.
2. Georgia: the Libertarian Party will sue to overturn the state's 5% petition requirement for minor party and independent U.S. House candidates, based on the historical pattern that no one has qualified for that office, by petition, in 19 years (by contrast, every other state had a minor party or independent candidate on the ballot for U.S. House in 2000, except for Arkansas, which had some on in 1998 and 1996). The lawsuit will also cite Cook v Gralike, this year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling which said that states cannot discriminate against a class of candidates for Congress.
3. New Mexico: the Green Party is raising money to hire an attorney to sue, to overturn the Secretary of State's April 14 ruling that the party is no longer entitled to nominate candidates by primary. The law says, "'Major party' means any qualified party, any of whose candidates received as many as 5% of the total votes cast at the last preceding general election for the office of Governor, or president, as the case may be." The party had a statewide candidate in 2000 who polled 54,926 votes, which is 9.2% of the presidential vote. The Secretary of State ignores the words "any of whose candidates" and claims that only the party's presidential vote counts.
4. Ohio: the Libertarian Party plans to bring a lawsuit, challenging the state's ruling that it is no longer a qualified party (the law is internally contradictory).
The case probably will also challenge the January petition deadline for new parties, and also the law requiring signers of that petition to say that they "intend to organize the party".
5. national: on April 22, the Libertarian National Committee agreed to become a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit which will challenge federal laws on contribution limits and disclosure. The Constitution Party and the American Heritage Party are likely to be co-plaintiffs as well.
Congressman Ron Paul has decided to re-introduce his bills on presidential debates and ballot access.
The U.S. House of Representatives held its first hearing on election law bills, on April 26. The Secretaries of State of Florida and Ohio asked Congress to appropriate money to help the states buy ballot-counting systems.
Representative Cynthia McKinney has again introduced a bill, to eliminate the federal law requiring single member districts for U.S. House elections. This year, it is HB 1189. If the law were repealed, states would be free to experiment with multimember districts elected proportionally. The Center for Voting and Democracy, which works to implement alternative voting systems, also supports HR 57, which would establish a Commission to consider a full range of electoral reforms; and HR 506, which would create a commission to analyze the size of the U.S. House of Representatives, and whether or not to implement alternate voting systems. To learn more, see http://www.fairvote.org/reports/1999/
The FEC has just published Combined Federal/State Disclosure and Election Directory 2001, a free book which lists all state elections directors, their phone and fax numbers, their e-mail addresses, and their postal addresses. The book appears annually. Telephone the FEC at (800)-424-9530 and ask for the Public Disclosure Division, to order the book.
The Federal Election Commission has asked Congress to make it more difficult for presidential candidates to receive primary season matching funds. The FEC says, "The present law sets a very low bar for candidates: $100,000 in matchable contributions ($5,000 in each of at least 20 states from individual donations of $250 or less). Congress needs to consider a new threshold that would not be so high as to deprive potentially late-blooming candidates of public funds, nor so low as to permit individuals who are clearly not viable candidates to exploit the system."
Minor party candidates who have received primary season matching funds have been Sonia Johnson of the Citizens Party in 1984, Lenora Fulani of the New Alliance Party in 1988 and 1992, John Hagelin of the Natural Law Party in 1992, 1996 and 2000, Ralph Nader of the Green Party in 2000, and Pat Buchanan of the Reform Party in 2000.
The FEC also warns that there is likely to be a shortfall in the fund, for 2004. Currently, taxpayers are free to direct $3 on the federal income tax forms into the fund, but only about 20% of taxpayers do so. The FEC projects that, if nothing is done, primary season candidates in 2004 will only receive 23% as much money as they are entitled to.
The National Conference of State Legislatures website now contains a list of all election law reform bills pending in state legislatures. See http://www.ncsl.org/programs/legman/elect/taskfc/database.htm and click on "public user".
Users can choose sub-topics (such as "electoral college" or "ballot access -- parties") and can choose any or all states. There are over 1,500 bills.
The Libertarian Party is 95% finished in both North Carolina and Nebraska; has started Ohio; and will soon start Michigan. The Constitution Party will start in Montana on June 1.
On April 3, the Libertarian Party candidate for Mayor of Chillicothe, Jeff Foli, won that partisan election, defeating his only opponent, a Republican, by 1,250 to 837. This is believed to be the first time a minor party has won a partisan election in Missouri since the 1910's decade (however, Missouri has elected several independent candidates to important office recently, including a member of the U.S. House in 1996). Foli, who was the incumbent (he had been elected previously as a Republican) was outspent ten-to-one.
Five Libertarian candidates were also elected to Illinois local offices on the same day, but the Illinois elections were non-partisan.
The Reform Party National Committee recently conducted a mail ballot, to decide where the party's 2001 national convention will be. Nashville, Tennessee won, with 48 votes, followed by Cincinnati with 22, and Chicago, 12. The convention will be July 26-29, 2001.
Russell Verney, who was national chair from the party's founding in 1995 until January 1, 2000, and who has been an employee of Ross Perot since 1997, resigned his job with Perot last month. He has accepted a job with Judicial Watch, a public interest legal and governmental watchdog group. He will remain in Dallas.
The March 1 B.A.N. noted that the Texas Green Party appeared to have won its first election, for local office, by write-in votes; but that a recount had eliminated all the write-ins which misspelled the candidates' names, thereby defeating the Greens. The Greens then sued, since write-in misspellings, according to case law, should not invalidate such votes if the voter's intent can be deduced.
On April 27, the judge ruled that the election, which had been held on January 20 for Upper San Marcos Watershed District Directors, should never have been held! Research had showed that such elections should be held in even years, not odd years; the entire election was nullified.
Terry Bouricius and Martin Hamburger recently debated each other on whether activists should participate in minor parties or not. An abridged version of the debate will be broadcast on National Public Radio in early June, on the "Justice Talking" show, which is carried by 65 stations. Bouricius is a former Progressive Party member of the Vermont legislature, and a staffer for the Center for Voting and Democracy. Hamburger is an employee of the Democratic National Committee. The debate had a live audience in Philadelphia's Independence Hall.
The Prohibition Party will hold a national convention in Denver, June 11-13, 2001. Howard Lydick, an attorney and a member of the party's national committee, recently succeeded in persuading the national United Methodist Church to resolve, "Whereas, equal access to the ballot is important in a free republic; and Whereas no one group should be permitted to have exclusive access to the ballot; and Whereas, it is manifestly unfair to make ballot access so difficult that a political party has to have a very large bank account to get on the ballot; and Whereas, some states have 'low requirements' to get on the ballot without having their ballot filled with spurious parties and candidates, Therefore, be it resolved by the 2000 General Conference of the United Methodist Church that we urge all state legislatures to review their requirements for a political party to appear on their ballot and, if necessary, change their statutes to make it possible for a political party to have its candidates appear on the ballot without the party needing an enormous bank account just to appear on the ballot."
New Mexico Libertarians are working hard to draft Russell Means as their 2002 gubernatorial candidate. Means sought the Libertarian presidential nomination in 1988, but lost it to former (and future) Congressman Ron Paul. Means has been active with the American Indian Movement for 27 years, and has lived in New Mexico for many years, although he was born in South Dakota.