|This issue was originally printed on white paper.|
Progress has been made recently in three federal lawsuits, all of which attack state laws which prevent minor party or independent candidates from having appropriate labels appear on the ballot next to their names.
1. Louisiana: on June 26, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Tyson denied the state's motion to dismiss Rosenthal v McKeithen, 00-612. Now the case can proceed. It had been stalled for the last nine months.
This case challenges state law which denies any label to minor party or independent candidates (except for presidential candidates). Even the word "independent" is not permitted. However, candidates who are members of major parties have their party label printed on the ballot. The plaintiff ran as an independent candidate for Congress last year.
2. Ohio: on July 9, the Libertarian Party filed its brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Schrader v Blackwell, 01-59. This is the case on whether minor party nominees who use the independent candidate procedure, may have the name of that minor party on the ballot. Most minor parties in Ohio use the independent candidate procedures, because they are so much easier than the new party procedures.
The U.S. Supreme Court won't say whether it will hear this case, until October 2001 at the earliest. This is the first appeal filed with the Supreme Court by any minor party, since the Court decided Bush v Gore and Cook v Gralike. Both of those cases ought to be powerful precedents in favor of all three lawsuits mentioned in this story. Bush v Gore said states cannot discriminate against any class of voters. Yet laws which help Democratic and Republican voters to know whom their nominees are, and which deny the same help to members of other parties, obviously discriminate for some voters, and against others.
Cook v Gralike said that states may not discriminate against a class of candidates for Congress. Fortunately, the plaintiff-candidates in both the Louisiana and Ohio cases are congressional candidates.
3. Virginia: on July 23, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against state law, which provides no method for a new party to ever have its name on the ballot (except for president). Libertarian Party of Virginia v Quinn, no. 3:01-cv-468.
Until this year, there were no party labels on Virginia ballots whatsoever, except for presidential candidates. But in 2001, because of a new law passed last year, there are labels for all state and federal candidates, but only for the nominees of parties which polled 10% at a previous election. The plaintiff candidates are Bill Redpath for Governor, and Gary Reams for Lieutenant Governor. State law says they should have "independent" next to their names on the ballot, even though their petitions informed signers that they are Libertarian nominees, not independents.
1. Connecticut: HB 5042 was signed into law on May 4. It permits ex-felons to vote while they are still on parole or probation.
2. Florida: a trial date has been set for the lawsuit which attacks the state's ban on voter registration for ex-felons. It will be in January 2002. Johnson v Bush, 00-3542, federal court, Miami.
3. Illinois: on May 9, a state Circuit Court in Cook County ruled that state law, barring ex-felons from holding municipal elective office, is unconstitutional. People ex rel Devine v Luster, 01-co-44. Since there is no law barring ex-felons from holding state or county office, the judge said there can't be a strong state interest in barring them from holding municipal office.
SB 747 was signed into law by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber on July 2. It changes the definition of "major party" from one which polled 15% of the vote in two elections in a row, to one which has registration of at least 5%. In Oregon, a major party is one which nominates by primary. Qualified minor parties nominate by convention.
The practical impact of this bill will probably be nil, since no party, other than the Democrats or Republicans, has held 5% registration in any state, for almost 90 years. Nevertheless, Libertarians sought the bill, feeling that someday the party might be able to get its registration up to 5%.
SB 747 should not be confused with SB 777, which also passed this year (see B.A.N. of July 1, 2001). SB 777 makes it easier for a qualified minor party to remain qualified.
On July 13, Alaska's new primary law went into effect. Each of the state's six qualified parties will have its own primary ballot, and each will decide which voters may vote in that party's primary. The deadline for each party to decide which voters may vote in its 2002 primary, is September 1, 2001. The new law replaces Alaska's blanket primary.
1. Illinois: Governor George Ryan signed SB 1109 on July 20. Now, any adult resident of the state may circulate any petition, anywhere in the state.
2. New York: the State Board of Elections has ruled that any registered voter in the state may circulate a petition, anywhere in the state. However, if the petition is to place a candidate on a primary ballot, the circulator must be a member of that candidate's party.
State legislatures in three-fourths of the states have adjourned for the year. However, in the remaining states, the legislature sits permanently. In some of those states, ballot reform bills will be introduced soon. Also, in states in which the legislature won't meet again until 2002, plans for bills next year are already underway.
1. Illinois: activists believe they can find sponsors to re-introduce a ballot access reform bill which was last introduced in 1994. Currently, minor party and independent candidates for district and county office need petitions signed by 5% of the last vote cast. However, candidates in major party primaries only need petitions of one-half of 1% of the last vote cast. The proposed bill would equalize the petition burdens. To help with this effort, contact Austin Hough at (630)-378-4593, or email@example.com
2. Indiana: Representative Mark Kruzan (D-Bloomington), majority leader of the House, has agreed to introduce a bill next year to lower the number of signatures to one-half of 1% of the last vote cast. Current law requires a petition of 2% of the last vote cast. The bill will also ease the petition deadline from June to July. To help, contact the Indiana Coalition for Fair Election Laws at (317)-581-4815, or ICFEL@earthlink.net
3. Michigan: Representative Leon Drolet has agreed to introduce a bill in September to make it easier for a party to remain on the ballot. Current law measures a party's performance only by looking at its candidate for the most important statewide office (such as president, in a presidential election year). The bill would give credit to a party for its highest vote-getter. It's very common for minor parties to get a much higher vote for less important statewide office, than for president.
4. Oklahoma: the State Election Board has a new Secretary, Mike Clingman. Traditionally, the Secretary of the State Election Board has influence with the legislature, on election law matters. Senator David Herbert, a Democrat, has asked Clingman to study the state's ballot access laws.
Oklahoma requires more signatures, for a minor party or independent presidential candidate, than any other state, when the requirements are compared on a percentage basis. Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform (OBAR) has been formed to change this. Contact OBAR at (405)-736-6330, or (405)-598-8963, or firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Pennsylvania: the Green Party hopes to get a bill introduced very soon, to reduce the petition requirement for the nominees of "qualified" minor parties. The statewide requirement would drop from about 25,000 signatures, to about 6,000 signatures. To help, contact John Stith at (814)-234-4552 or email@example.com
Next year, Alaskans will vote on whether to provide for Instant-Runoff voting in state elections. Because IRV is still murky to most Alaskans, IRV supporters are circulating an initiative to provide for it in Anchorage city elections. That initiative will be voted in this year. IRV proponents expect the campaign in Anchorage to educate Anchorage voters about IRV, which should help in the statewide vote in 2002. Approximately half of all Alaskans live in Anchorage.
An initiative is circulating in California which would provide that an otherwise term-limited state legislator could run for re-election. However, he or she would need signatures of 20% of the last vote cast, to do so. The initiative is expected to qualify for the March 2002 primary ballot.
Between 1870 and 1980, Illinois used Cumulative Voting for elections to the lower house of the state legislature. Each district elected three legislators. Voters were free to cast one vote for each of three candidates. But they could also do something different: they could give three votes to just one candidate. Or, they could give one and one-half votes to each of two candidates.
A campaign is currently underway in Illinois to restore cumulative voting. HJRCA-4, pending in the legislature, would amend the state constitution to restore it.
The system made it possible for the weaker of the two major parties, in any given region, to have some representation. In a typical Chicago district, for example, usually two Democrats and one Republican were elected.
One might think that Illinois' cumulative voting system might also make it easier for a minor party to elect a legislator. However, another Illinois law (which is still on the books) thwarted that notion. Illinois requires new or previously unqualified parties to run a full slate of candidates. Therefore, since minor parties in Illinois are almost never "qualified" parties, they were forced to run three candidates in each district they contested. It was illegal for them to run just one candidate. So, the entire advantage of cumulative voting was eliminated for them. Cumulative voting only works (for a weak party) if it runs just a single candidate, so all the party supporters will be motivated to "bullet vote" for that one candidate, giving him or her all of their three votes.
Recently, the prestigious Institute for Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois released a study, praising Cumulative Voting. The Report has generated considerable publicity. The Chicago Sun-Times editorialized for a return to Cumulative Voting, on July 16. Former Congressmen John B. Anderson and Abner Mikva are working for the idea in their capacity as Co-chairs of the Midwest Democracy Center.
Although the study decries a lack of competition in Illinois legislative elections, it says nothing about the "full slate" law.
Activists who support equal treatment for all parties, ought to insist that if Cumulative Voting is restored, that the law requiring minor parties to run three candidates in State House districts should be repealed. The Midwest Democracy Center is at firstname.lastname@example.org or (312)-587-7060. www.midwestdemocracy.org
On May 8, the State Supreme Court issued a ruling which will make it much easier to disqualify petitions in the future. In re Nomination of Flaherty, 770 A 2d 327. Past Pennsylvania precedents said that if a circulator sees a voter sign a petition, that is sufficient. The Court established a new rule that the circulator must speak to everyone who signs.
Also, the Court ruled that printed signatures are invalid. In this case, one signer is 81 years old and no longer uses cursive script to sign. The Court said, in that case, the voter must be handled in the manner reserved for signers who cannot sign their names at all, and who make an "X" for a signature (this requires a separate statement by someone else who watched the "X" being made).
Finally, the Court reversed previous precedent and said that petitions which show an address different from their registration address, are always invalid. In the past, the signature was valid if the address shown on the petition was the actual address of the signer.
The candidate who lost the case was kept off the Democratic ballot for a statewide judicial office because (after the court's crabbed interpretation) she was one signature short of the requirement. She needed 100 signatures from each of five counties, but ended up with only 99 in one of them.
On July 20, an Oregon Circuit Court judge struck down a 1992 initiative which amended the state constitution to impose term limits on state legislators, state executive officers, and members of Congress. Lehman v Bradbury, 01-c-14353, Marion Co.
The Court said that the initiative did not deal with a "single subject". All initiatives in Oregon, and in many states, must comprise only a "single subject". Of course, it is not obvious that a measure which imposes term limits on three different types of elected office-holders, does not deal with a "single subject".
More alarming for supporters of the initiative procedure is that a court could strike down an initiative, on such procedural grounds, nine years after it has passed. No court would think of striking down a law passed by a legislature, nine years after the law had passed, on the grounds that perhaps the legislature hadn't followed proper procedures when it passed the bill.
This initiative had been very popular. It had polled 69.5% of the vote, and had carried every county.
Under the theory propounded by the court, no initiative is safe from a procedural attack, no matter how many decades passed since it was passed. The State Supreme Court will consider the state's appeal.
Although the part of the 1992 initiative dealing with congressional term limits was not in operation (because only an amendment to the U.S. Constitution can put congressional term limits into effect), the initiative contained a severability clause.
1. Arizona: the Voting Integrity Project has settled its lawsuit, filed to stop internet voting in the Democratic presidential primary last year. The group is confident that a National Science Foundation study of internet voting will resolve the issue of whether internet voting (whether the terminal is at the polls, or in private homes) can ever be safe.
Arizona (2): the last issue of B.A.N. reported that a State Court of Appeals had ruled that the state's mid-June petition deadline for independent candidates is too early. The state has asked the court to clarify whether the decision applies only to presidential candidates, or to all independent candidates. Browne v Bayless, 1 ca-cv 00-546.
2. Colorado: on April 12, a state court of appeals ruled that groups which run campaign ads need not reveal their contributors, if the ads don't expressly advocate the election or defeat of a particular candidate. League of Women Voters v Davidson, 23 P 3d 1266. The League is not appealing.
3. Connecticut: on June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Seymour v Election Enforcement Commission, 00-1360. The issue was whether the Constitution protects anonymous campaign literature about candidates, if the candidate himself didn't issue the literature. The lower court had said that such anonymous literature can be banned. The U.S. Supreme Court denied the appeal on the last day of the term.
3. Massachusetts: on May 3, supporters of public financing in state elections filed a lawsuit, to force the legislature to fund the program. The voters had approved an initiative to provide for public funding in 1998, yet the legislature has never appropriated the money to pay for it. Tolman v Finneran, cv-01-10756-pbs, U.S. District Court.
4. Michigan: the 6th circuit will hold a hearing on September 18, in Green Party of Michigan v Miller, 00-1407. The issue is whether the state must permit parties (which are not qualified statewide) to qualify in just part of the state.
5. Missouri: on June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court told the 8th circuit to re-hear Missouri Republican Party v Lamb, 227 F 3d 1070. The 8th circuit had ruled that the First Amendment protects the right of political parties to spend as much of their own money as they wish, to elect their candidates. This decision is now subject to reversal, as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's Colorado Republican decision of June 25.
6. New Mexico: the Green Party will file a lawsuit in the next few days, to regain its status as a major party. At issue is whether major parties must poll 5% for President, or for any statewide office.
7. Oregon: on July 11, the 9th circuit upheld the state's vote-by-mail law, for federal office. Voting Integrity Project v Keisling, 99-35337. Federal law says states must hold federal elections in November, but Oregon's mail voting permits voting to take place throughout half of October as well as in early November. The Voting Integrity Project hasn't decided yet whether to appeal.
Update: AL data.
|Democrat||Republican||Green||Libertarian||Constitution||Reform||Natural Law||other (1)||other (2)|
|Arizona||$15,130||$15,474||$2,667||$2,422||- - -||$36||$142||- - -||- - -|
|Idaho||$11,331||$14,232||- - -||$1,063||$804||$349||$256||- - -||- - -|
|Kentucky||$86,661||$60,145||- - -||- - -||- - -||- - -||- - -||- - -||- - -|
|Maine||$6,865||$3,987||$6,138||- - -||- - -||$274||- - -||- - -||- - -|
|Minnesota||$53,047||$72,976||$3,379||$1,833||$1,491||- - -||- - -||$38,453||$2,319|
|North Carolina||$225,433||$155,164||- - -||$277||- - -||- - -||- - -||- - -||- - -|
|Ohio||$209,533||$209,533||- - -||- - -||- - -||- - -||- - -||- - -||- - -|
|Rhode Island||$6,740||$3,948||- - -||- - -||$96||- - -||$210||- - -|
|Utah||$40,783||$57,843||- - -||$2,578||- - -||- - -||- - -||$4,852||- - -|
|Virginia||$25,085||$17,763||- - -||- - -||- - -||- - -||- - -||- - -||- - -|
Every year, the ten states mentioned above let taxpayers send a contribution to the political party of the taxpayer's choice. The chart above shows the amounts donated to each political party named on tax forms. The Ohio form only lets a taxpayer decide whether to contribute, but doesn't let him or her choose a party; the money is divided equally among parties which polled 20% for president or Governor at the last election. All the other states mentioned above allow a free choice of party.
The parties in the "Other (1)" column are: Minnesota Independence Party (Governor Ventura's party), the Rhode Island Cool Moose Party, and the Independent American Party of Utah. The parties in the "Other (2)" column are: Progressive Minnesota ($491) and Grassroots ($1,828).
The above image is a British ballot for its June 2001 House of Commons election. This is the first time that British ballots have ever used party emblems. Ballot access procedures in Britain are not discriminatory, as they are in the U.S. All candidates face the same requirements: a filing fee of 500 pounds (about $700) and 10 signatures. The money is returned if the candidate polls 5%.
|Group or Candidate||State||Requirement|
|2000||Reform Party||North Carolina||51,324|
|1998||Libertarian Party||North Carolina||51,324|
|1996||Reform & Natural Law Parties||California||(registrations) 89,007|
|1994||Libertarian & Patriot Parties||Indiana||29,909|
|1990||Socialist Workers, New Alliance, Libertarian Parties||New York||20,000|
|1984||Communist, Workers League, Libertarian Parties||Pennsylvania||49,933|
|1980||John Anderson & Barry Commoner||California||101,297|
|1972||Socialist Workers Party||Massachusetts||56,038|
|1970||Socialist Workers & Socialist Labor Parties||Illinois||25,000|
|1964||Socialist Workers, Socialist Labor, Freedom Now Parties||Michigan||14,896|
|1962||H. Stuart Hughes||Massachusetts||72,514|
|1960||Socialist Labor Party||Illinois||25,000|
|1958||Prohibition, Socialist Labor, Socialist Workers Parties||Michigan||15,315|
|1956||Socialist Labor Party||Illinois||25,000|
|1954||Prohibition, Socialist Labor, Socialist Workers Parties||Michigan||14,464|
|1946||Socialist Labor Party||Ohio||30,953|
|1944||Prohibition & Socialist Labor Parties||Illinois||25,000|
|1940||Prohibition & Socialist Parties||Illinois||25,000|
|1936||Union, Prohibition, Socialist, Socialist Labor Parties||Illinois||25,000|
|1934||Prohibition, Socialist, Socialist Labor Parties||Illinois||25,000|
|1932||Prohibition, Communist, Socialist, Socialist Labor Parties||Illinois||25,000|
|1930||Communist & Socialist Labor Parties||New York||12,000|
|1928||Prohibition, Communist, Socialist, Socialist Labor Parties||Ohio||13,963|
|1926||Socialist & Socialist Labor Parties||Ohio||19,734|
|1924||Progressive, Socialist Labor, Commonwealth Parties||Ohio||16,258|
|1922||Socialist Labor Party||New York||12,000|
|1920||Farmer-Labor & Socialist Labor Parties||New York||12,000|
|1918||Socialist Labor Party||New York||12,000|
|1910||Socialist Labor Party||Ohio||11,232|
|1908||Socialist Labor & Independence Parties||Ohio||7,924|
|1904||Socialist Labor & Peoples Parties||Ohio||8,664|
|1902||Socialist & Socialist Labor Parties||Ohio||8,276|
This chart shows the highest numerical petition requirement that was met by any political party, or any independent candidate, in each presidential and congressional election year in the 20th century. See below for more information.
The preceding is a list of the largest petition requirement overcome, in each election year of the 20th century.
The chart shows that, for the first half of the 20th century, very large signature hurdles were almost never overcome by any parties or candidates. As late as 1946, no petition requirement above 31,000 signatures had ever been met.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in its ballot access decisions of the 1970's, seemed to think that parties and candidates routinely comply with requirements of hundreds of thousands of signatures. The Court said in 1974 that a "reasonably diligent" independent candidate ought be able to collect 325,000 valid signatures in 25 days. In reality, no independent candidate has ever met a requirement greater than 135,000 signatures.
The North Carolina Libertarian Party has virtually finished a petition drive, for the elections of 2002 and 2004 (it still lacks 300 signatures). The requirement is 58,842 signatures. That will probably be the most difficult requirement that any group overcomes, for the 2002 election.
The Greens/Green Party USA, one of the two national organizations of Greens, held a national meeting in Carbondale, Illinois, July 21-23. A majority of voting delegates voted in favor of the "Boston proposal", that would let the Association of State Green Parties be recognized as the national party structure, with The Greens/Green Party USA becoming a "club" within that formal structure. However, the proposal needed two-thirds, and it only polled 55%.
The Association of State Green Parties will ask the Federal Election Commission to recognize it as the national Green Party, regardless of that outcome in Carbondale. Activists in The Greens/Green Party USA who favored the compromise, now plan to create a new organization, the Green Movement. It will play the same role that was once planned for The Greens/Green Party USA.
New Jersey elects its governor this year. Besides the Republican and Democratic parties, these parties are running: Conservative, Green, Libertarian, Socialist, and Socialist Workers (also, there are two independents, including State Senator Bill Schulter). Four years ago, the same parties were in the gubernatorial race, along with the Natural Law Party.
Reclaim Democracy! is a 501(c)(3) organization that has existed since 1997. Its goal is to shrink the influence of corporations over government. It has launched the Citizens Debate Commission, hoping to replace the Commission on Presidential Debates as the sponsor of the 2004 presidential debates. It hopes to gain the assistance of the League of Women Voters.
The Citizens Debate Commission would hold one general election presidential debate, at which every candidate on the ballot in enough states to win, would be invited. The additional debates would be limited to those candidates who were at 5% in nationwide polls. (303)-402-0105; Box 532, Boulder Co 80306; www.reclaimdemocracy.org
The Constitution Party has 200 signatures in Montana. The Libertarian Party has 2,500 in Arkansas, 200 in Hawaii, 13,000 in Michigan, 2,000 in New Mexico, and 5,500 in Ohio. It also has 1,400 in Maryland for a candidate for Governor, but the signatures are invalid, since they don't include anyone for Lieutenant Governor; the party must start all over. In Alabama, the party asserts that it is a qualified party, and has presented the Secretary of State with a legal memo in support of its position. The Natural Law Party has 5,000 signatures in Ohio.