April 1, 2006 Ė Volume 21, Number 12

This issue was originally printed on yellow paper.

Table of Contents

  1. BIG GAINS FOR INSTANT-RUNOFF VOTING IN VERMONT, SOUTH CAROLINA AND ALABAMA
  2. MISSISSIPPI DEMS. SUE FOR A CLOSED PRIMARY
  3. MICHIGAN BILL GAINS
  4. NEW BALLOT ACCESS LAWSUITS FILED
  5. MORE LAWSUIT NEWS
  6. DEMOCRATS OUT-RECRUIT REPUBLICANS
  7. RARE MOVE FROM U.S. SUPREME COURT
  8. OREGON GREENS OPPOSE "TOP-TWO"
  9. LOW TURNOUT IN TEXAS PRIMARIES
  10. IOWA DEMOCRATIC BALLOT ACCESS WOES
  11. LAW JOURNAL ARTICLE ON BALLOT ACCESS
  12. VOTERS PREFER SECRET PRIMARY
  13. ALAN GREENSPAN
  14. COFOE MEETING
  15. CONGRESS
  16. LEGISLATIVE NEWS
  17. TWO MORE PROMINENT INDEPENDENTS TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR
  18. INDEPENDENCE PARTY
  19. DEMOCRATS OK EARLIER CAUCUSES
  20. 2006 PETITIONING FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE
  21. LIBERTARIANS GAIN A COUNTY COMMISSIONER IN NEW MEXICO
  22. PROGRESSIVE PARTY WINS BURLINGTON
  23. BADNARIK RAISES $200,000
  24. IDAHO NATURAL LAW PARTY
  25. LABOR PARTY PETITIONING
  26. HARRY BROWNE DIES
  27. UTAH HAS TWO GREEN PARTIES
  28. SUBSCRIBING TO BAN WITH PAYPAL


BIG GAINS FOR INSTANT-RUNOFF VOTING IN VERMONT, SOUTH CAROLINA AND ALABAMA

South Carolina

On March 24, HB 3720 was signed into law. It had been introduced back on March 9, 2005. It provides that absentee overseas voters (military and civilian) will use Instant-Runoff Voting in primary elections. The reason for using IRV in primaries is that South Carolina, and most other southern states, hold run-off primaries when no one gets 50% in the first primary. But overseas absentee ballots take so long to be sent and received in the mail, it isnít practical to send ballots twice (once for the first primary and again for the run-off). Therefore, South Carolina, along with Arkansas and Louisiana, now will solve that problem with IRV.

Three Republican legislators, Representatives Scott Talley, James Harrison, and Ken Clark, sponsored the bill. It passed on a voice vote in both houses, so no record exists of whether anyone voted against it.

Vermont

Burlington, Vermont, used Instant-Runoff voting on March 7 to choose its Mayor. This was the first time IRV had been used anywhere in Vermont for elections to public office. The election was so successful, state officials say they are now persuaded IRV should be used for statewide elections. House Bill 385 and Senate Bill 48 both provide that all statewide elections should use IRV, and these bills are likely to pass by the time the legislature adjourns in mid-May. They would not take effect until 2008.

At the Burlington election, only one-tenth of 1% of the ballots were spoiled. Exit pollsters interviewed 1,000 voters and learned that 66.4% of the voters say they like IRV, whereas only 16.3% donít like it. 17.3% said they were neutral, or refused to respond.

At a legislative hearing on March 22, Mary Sullivan, chair of the Vermont Democratic Party, testified in favor of IRV. Howard Dean, former Vermont Governor and now national chair of the Democratic Party, submitted written testimony in favor, as did U.S. Senator John McCain. Legislative leaders have already decided to work for Senate approval first, and the Senate Government Operations Committee is now working on a final version of the bill. There are some legislators who donít want to implement IRV, and they will press instead for another study of IRV.

Alabama

A bill to implement IRV for primary elections for overseas absentee voters, HB 711, passed the House on March 16. However, since then, the stateís largest newspapers have attacked it in editorials, saying overseas voters would be forced to vote earlier than ordinary voters. This is a silly argument, because itís already true that overseas voters must vote before ordinary voters, if they want their ballot to arrive in time. Law Professor Ed Still defended HB 711 in a letter published in the March 26 Montgomery Advertiser.


MISSISSIPPI DEMS. SUE FOR A CLOSED PRIMARY

On February 10, the Mississippi Democratic Party filed a federal lawsuit to obtain a closed primary for the party. Mississippi Dem. Party v Barbour, 4:06cv29, n.d. (Greenville).

Democrats have good reason to desire a closed primary this year. There are no Republican primary contests in this yearís congressional races, and there are no other offices on this yearís primary (state and local elections are in odd years). Therefore, the Republican Party wonít hold a primary this year.

Since Mississippi doesnít have partisan registration, Republicans are free to vote in the Democratic primary, and many will do so. A close Democratic primary is expected in the Second U.S. House district, between incumbent Bennie Thompson, and state legislator Chuck Espy. FEC records show that many Republican donors have been contributing to Espy. Republicans perceive Espy to be friendlier to their ideas.

The major newspapers in Mississippi have been criticizing the Democratic Party for filing the lawsuit, since Mississippi has always had open primaries. The lawsuit is historic, because never before has any major party filed a lawsuit to force a state to stop an open primary. It is true that the Virginia Republican Party filed a somewhat similar lawsuit, but the Virginia lawsuit only concerns closing a primary in a single State Senate district, whereas the Mississippi Democratic Party seeks to close all the partyís primaries, statewide, and for not only 2006 but the future.

The case was assigned to Judge Allen Pepper, a Clinton appointee. One of the difficulties for the case is that it isnít clear how relief could be obtained, since there is no partisan registration question on Mississippi voter registration forms. Possibly the Democratic Party could simply refine its Bylaw to exclude voters who had voted in a Republican primary in 2004, unless that voter signs some sort of affiliation form to become a Democrat. The primary is on June 6.


MICHIGAN BILL GAINS

On March 8, Michigan House Bill 5082 passed the House. It eases the very strict deadline for a party to certify the name of its presidential candidate to the Secretary of State, from 24 hours after the close of the convention, to three months.


NEW BALLOT ACCESS LAWSUITS FILED

Recently, the Texas and California Supreme Courts ruled that strict compliance is improper for ballot access (see March 1 B.A.N.). That has already paid off in California.

Texas

On March 24, independent gubernatorial candidate Carole Strayhorn filed a federal lawsuit against the stateís policy of refusing to let her make supplemental petition submissions. The state says that once she turns in any petitions, she canít turn in any more, even if the deadline lies in the future. The statutory language does not support this ruling. Furthermore, it flies in the face of the recent Texas Supreme Courtís decision that candidates must be given a chance to correct errors in their petitions after they have been turned in.

The state is also saying that even though the law authorizes random sampling for petition checking, this year the state wonít use random sampling. This means that the state expects to take at least two months to determine if her petition is valid. Strayhorn says that her campaign will be injured if she is not certified for the ballot until July or August. The case is Strayhorn v Williams, A06-ca205, w.d. It was assigned to Judge Sam Sparks, whose record in past ballot access cases has been mixed.

California Victory

On March 20, Assemblyman Tom Umberg, a candidate for State Senate, sued to force the removal of one of Umbergís opponents from the ballot. Umberg v McPherson, 06cs406, Sup. Ct., Sacramento.

The law requires 40 signatures for anyone seeking a place on a primary ballot, for district office. The law also says no more than 60 signatures may be submitted. Luis Correa, the other candidate, submitted 101 signatures. Correa did have more than 40 valid signatures, but Umberg says that if Correa had not been permitted to file 101 signatures, he might not have had 40. On March 28, Correa won the lawsuit. More about this decision in the next B.A.N.


MORE LAWSUIT NEWS

National: all briefs will have been submitted by mid-April in the case over whether petitioning can be done on interior post office sidewalks. Initiative & Referendum Institute v U.S. Postal Service, 00-1246, U.S. Dist. Ct., Dist. of Columbia. This is the case that has already resulted in opening up post office sidewalks that are parallel to streets, for petitioning.

California: on March 10, a Superior Court Judge reinstated the voter registration, and candidacy for city council, of three homeless voters. They live in Vernon, a tiny city entirely enclosed by Los Angeles, population 93. There have been no contests for city council in 25 years. This year, three challengers filed to run for city council, but since they were living in a commercial building, city officials cancelled their voter registration and also arranged to have them evicted. They sued and won, even though they are living in tents and cars. Eskndarian v City of Vernon, bc-346114.

California (2): on March 23, a U.S. District Court ruled that initiative petitions are invalid unless their text is printed in Spanish as well as English (in areas in which Spanish, as well as English, must be on ballots). In re County of Monterey Initiative Matter, 06-1407, n.d., San Jose. The decision is being appealed. It is based on a 9th circuit opinion that recall petitions must be multi-lingual.

Illinois: on March 13, U.S. District Judge David Coar, a Clinton appointee, ruled that election officials who reject an absentee ballot (typically because they think the signature on the outer envelope doesnít match the signature in the voter registration record) must notify the voter and give him or her a chance to contest the rejection. Zessar v Helander, 05-1917, n.d. As far as is known, Washington is the only state that already gives this service to absentee voters.

North Carolina: a hearing will be held April 27 in the Libertarian Partyís ballot access lawsuit. The state will try to persuade the judge to dismiss the case without a trial. .

Missouri: on March 27, a Democrat who was kept off the primary ballot for U.S. House sued to get on that primary ballot. Missouri law requires candidates to file with the party. The party then forwards the paperwork to elections officials. The candidate was rejected by the Democratic Party because he is a white supremacist. A few states explicitly give parties the right to veto candidates, on the grounds that the candidate is not in sympathy with party principles. However, Missouri has no such law. Miller v Secretary of State, 06-5032, U.S. Dist. Court, w.d., Springfield.

Ohio: on March 23, the 6th circuit denied a rehearing in Ralph Naderís case against the law that requires circulators to be registered voters. The 6th circuit had earlier said the case is moot, and that decision will stand, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has said that constitutional election law cases are not moot just because the election is over. Blankenship v Blackwell, 04-4259.

Ohio (2): the case against the March 1 deadline for independent candidates for Congress is pending in the U.S. Supreme Court. The state has obtained an extension of 30 days in which to file its brief explaining why the Court shouldnít hear this case. That brief is now due May 1. Lawrence v Blackwell, 05-1089.

Oklahoma: the Libertarian Partyís case against the ballot access laws for new parties will not have a trial. Instead, the case will be decided based on the evidence already submitted. Libertarian Political Organization v Clingman, 2004-2949, Okla. City.

Puerto Rico: on March 20, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case over presidential votes for citizens who live in Puerto Rico. The plaintiff will now ask the Organization of American States whether the U.S. is in violation of the OAS charter.

Virgin Islands: on March 20, the U.S. District Court heard Ballantine v U.S., 1999-130, over whether U.S. citizens who move from one of the fifty states to the Virgin Islands still have a right to vote for president. The case was filed in 1999 and is only now getting its first hearing.


DEMOCRATS OUT-RECRUIT REPUBLICANS

Filing deadlines for major party primaries have now passed in 17 states. For U.S. House of Representatives, there is no Republican running in 17 districts. However, there is no Democrat running in only five districts.

The districts in which no Republican is running are: California 7,20, 31,32,33,35; Illinois 12, North Carolina 1, Ohio 17, Oregon 3, Pennsylvania 1,14; Texas 9,16,20,25,28.

The districts with no Democrat are: California 42, Mississippi 3, Pennsylvania 9,15; Texas 11.

In the same 17 states in 2004, there were 12 districts with no Republican and 12 districts with no Democrat.


RARE MOVE FROM U.S. SUPREME COURT

On March 20, in a rare move, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed an amicus brief to be filed after the oral argument had been held! The case is Jackson v Perry, the famous Texas case over whether the legislature is permitted to redraw congressional districts in the middle of the decade for partisan reasons.

The amicus brief points out that a few hours after the oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court was over, the Governor of Georgia signed a bill, redrawing State Senate boundaries for three districts. The brief also noted that the billís author is the brother-in-law of the leading Republican candidate for one of the seats whose boundaries were changed, and that the boundary change prevents the leading Democrat in that district from running for that seat, since she now lives outside the new boundaries.


OREGON GREENS OPPOSE "TOP-TWO"

An initiative is circulating in Oregon to impose the "top-two" system of elections, which would leave only two candidates on the ballot in November, for all partisan office other than president. On March 18, the Green Party, meeting in state convention, formally opposed the measure.


LOW TURNOUT IN TEXAS PRIMARIES

The turnout in the Texas March primaries was very low. This is good news for the various independent candidates and minor parties who are circulating petitions in Texas, since state law prohibits primary voters from signing petitions. Texas has 12,722,671 registered voters, but only 653,198 of them voted in the Republican primary, and only 508,316 voted in the Democratic primary.


IOWA DEMOCRATIC BALLOT ACCESS WOES

The March B.A.N. said that a leading Democratic candidate for U.S. House had failed to qualify for the primary ballot in Ohio. Now, another leading Democrat, also running for the U.S. House, has been excluded from the Iowa primary ballot.

Professor David Loebsack, the only Democrat seeking his partyís nomination in the 2nd district, needed signatures of 1% of his partyís last presidential vote in his district. Also, he needed 2% in at least half of the counties in his district. He met the county requirement in only six counties, instead of eight. Therefore, he failed to qualify.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1969, in Moore v Ogilvie, that county distribution requirements are unconstitutional. The Court reiterated this decision in 2000, in Bush v Gore. Loebsack could win a lawsuit against the state law, were he to file one. However, since Iowa law permits a party to fill vacancies, he will probably take the easier course of winning the nomination by a vote of the partyís committee.


LAW JOURNAL ARTICLE ON BALLOT ACCESS

Still another article has been published in a law journal, criticizing the U.S. Supreme Courtís reluctance to strike down bad ballot access laws. See Oliver Hallís article in the Seattle University Law Review, vol. 29, no. 2. It is 42 pages long.


VOTERS PREFER SECRET PRIMARY

On March 21, the voters of Sangamon County, Illinois (Springfield) were asked whether they prefer to choose a party primary ballot publicly, or in the secrecy of the voting booth. The question was non-binding. Current law requires voters to publicly say which partyís primary ballot they want. The "secret" choice won with 80%.


ALAN GREENSPAN

Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman, is writing a book on the forces that will determine how the next decades are likely to unfold. Although he has not finished the book, he has discussed the contents. Among them is his prediction that a well-financed independent presidential candidate will emerge in 2008 or 2012. He says the "ideological divide" separating conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats leaves a "vast untended center."


COFOE MEETING

The annual COFOE (Coalition for Free & Open Elections) Board meeting was held in New York on March 18. The Board appropriated $2,000 to pay for the U.S. Supreme Court appeal in the Ohio case on the March 1 petition deadline. The Board also appropriated $500 for the pending Pennsylvania ballot access lawsuit.

Minutes of the meeting will be posted soon at www.cofoe.org. COFOE gratefully thanks everyone who has contributed to COFOE over the years, especially those who give more than $25 per year. COFOE is now 21 years old. Member organizations are the Constitution, Green, Libertarian, Reform, and Socialist Parties; the Ralph Nader campaign organization; the Committee for a United Independent Party.


CONGRESS

On March 1, U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) introduced S2350, which would require all states to use non-partisan commissions to redraw U.S. House district boundaries.


LEGISLATIVE NEWS

Arizona: the State Senate passed SB 1557 on March 21. The bill only deals with procedures for recounts. However, the lead sponsor, Senator Karen Johnson, hopes to amend the bill to also include some ballot access improvements, such as a later deadline for independent presidential candidates, and a lower number of signatures for new parties.

California: Assemblyman Tom Umberg, chair of the Elections Committee, has introduced AB 2948, to implement the national plan to force an end to the electoral college system (see March 1 B.A.N. for an explanation of this plan). The bill is identical to Illinoisí SB 2724.

California (2): the Assembly Elections Committee has introduced AB 3063, which would let elections officials cancel a primary, for a party in which no one files to run. The bill was introduced as a reaction to the Natural Law Party situation. It is a qualified party this year, yet no one filed in its primary, so printing ballots for it seems a waste of taxpayer dollars. However, the bill canít take effect until 2008, and by then the Natural Law Party wonít be qualified, since it will not have polled 2% for any statewide race this year.

Connecticut: Five bills have been introduced to lessen the anti-minor party discrimination in the stateís "clean elections" public funding bill for candidates. The "clean elections" bill that passed last year makes it virtually impossible for anyone other than a Democrat or Republican to get public funding for state office. The bills are 5610, 5052, 5572, 83, and 625. A hearing was held on March 13. If none of the bills pass, the ACLU will sue to force a revision. The Green Party would be the lead plaintiff. The public funding is not effective until 2008.

Louisiana: bills to change the stateís congressional elections to a closed primary were introduced on March 27, the first day of the session. They are SB 18 by Senator Cleo Fields, and HB 505 by Representative Charles Lancaster.

Washington: the legislature passed HB6236 on March 1. It moves the primary from mid-September to mid-August. It also moves the minor party/independent presidential petition deadline from late August to late July. It moves the petition deadline for office other than president from early July to mid-May.


TWO MORE PROMINENT INDEPENDENTS TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR

The March 1 B.A.N. listed the surprisingly large number of prominent independent candidates for Governor this year. Since then, there are two more:

Massachusetts: on March 1, Christy Mihos declared his independent candidacy for Governor. He is a former member of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority who was fired by the current Governor, after he opposed her method to finance the "Big Dig" highway tunnel debt. He sued and won a settlement over that firing. He is independently wealthy because he sold his chain of Christyís convenience stores. He has been a Republican, and had been wooed by the Republican Party to run for either Governor or Lieutenant Governor this year. He favors same-sex marriage.

Illinois: State Senator James Meeks, an African-American from Chicago, says he will create a new party and be its gubernatorial candidate. It is too late to be an independent candidate (those petitions were due last year!) but the law permits him to get a new party on the ballot. He is also pastor of the Salem Baptist Church, which has 17,000 members. He was elected to the State Senate in 2002 as the nominee of the Honesty & Integrity Party, but when he took his seat, he affiliated with the Democratic caucus, and he is also running for re-election as a Democrat.

He says he is running because he disagrees with Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevichís no-new-taxes pledge. Meeks also opposes same-sex marriage. He has not yet begun circulating his petition, which needs 25,000 signatures by June 26.


INDEPENDENCE PARTY

On March 7, a New York Supreme Court Judge in Brooklyn dismissed a lawsuit filed around the Independence Partyís internal dispute. The judge said the attorneys for the partyís county organizations had made a procedural error. Fulani v MacKay, 4444-06. The county organizations of the party have filed a new lawsuit to correct the procedural error, and have also appealed the original lawsuit.

The state leadership of the Independence Party dissolved the partyís county organizations in three boroughs of New York city, because it disagrees with the political views of the leadership of those county organizations. There is surprisingly little case law on whether state political parties have this much power over their county units.


DEMOCRATS OK EARLIER CAUCUSES

On March 11, the national Democratic Party Rules Committee revised the rules for the presidential nominating process. Under the old rules, the party did not recognize any presidential primary or caucus earlier than March, except for New Hampshire and Iowa. The new rule says two additional caucuses may be held before the New Hampshire primary.

Many Democrats feel that Iowa and New Hampshire are not fully representative of the nation, since both states have such a tiny percentage of racial and ethnic minorities.

The proposal was unanimous, except for the representative from New Hampshire. The plan wonít be final until the Democratic National Committee approves it, probably in June.

In response, the New Hampshire Senate Public Affairs Committee passed HB1125 on March 23 (the bill had already passed the House). It gives the Secretary of State power to set the date for the stateís presidential primary. He says he will use this power to thwart the Democratic plan.


2006 PETITIONING FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE

STATE
REQUIREMENTS
SIGNATURES COLLECTED
Deadline
FULL PARTY
CAND
LIB'T
GREEN
CONSTI
WK FAM
SWP

Alabama

41,012

41,012

1,200

0

0

0

0

in court

Alaska

(reg) 9,258

#3,128

already on

*already on

0

0

0

Aug. 22

Ariz.

26,835

est. #20,000

already on

*0

0

0

0

June 14

Arkansas

10,000

10,000

1,000

*8,000

0

0

0

May 1

Calif.

(reg) 77,389

165,573

already on

already on

already on

0

0

Aug. 11

Colorado

(reg) 1,000

#1,000

already on

already on

already on

0

0

July 10

Connecticut

no procedure

#7,500

already on

*1,000

already on

0

0

Aug. 11

Delaware

est. (reg) 280

est. 5,600

already on

already on

already on

0

already on

July 15

D.C.

no procedure

est. #3,800

can't start

already on

can't start

can't start

can't start

Aug. 30

Florida

be organized

pay fee

already on

already on

already on

0

already on

July 18

Georgia

42,676

#42,676

already on

0

0

0

0

July 11

Hawaii

648

25

already on

already on

*20

0

0

July 25

Idaho

11,968

5,984

already on

0

already on

0

0

Aug. 31

Illinois

no procedure

#25,000

*0

*200

*50

*0

0

June 26

Indiana

no procedure

#29,553

already on

*7,000

0

0

0

June 30

Iowa

no procedure

#1,500

*100

0

0

0

0

Aug. 18

Kansas

16,477

5,000

already on

0

0

0

0

July 31

Kentucky

no procedure

#2,400

0

0

0

0

0

Aug. 8

La.

(reg) 1,000

pay fee

already on

already on

47

0

0

Sep. 7

Maine

24,798

#4,000

0

already on

0

0

0

May 25

Maryland

10,000

est. 29,400

already on

already on

already on

0

0

Aug. 7

Mass.

est. (reg) 41,000

#10,000

*0

*0

*0

0

0

Aug. 1

Michigan

31,731

31,731

already on

already on

already on

0

0

July 20

Minnesota

141,420

#2,000

0

0

0

0

0

July 18

Mississippi

be organized

1,000

already on

already on

already on

0

0

April 7

Missouri

10,000

10,000

already on

0

*500

0

0

July 31

Montana

5,000

#5,000

already on

*0

*already on

0

0

May 30

Nebraska

4,735

2,500

300

*4,400

*already on

0

0

Aug. 29

Nevada

7,915

7,915

already on

*100

already on

0

0

July 7

New Hamp.

20,299

#3,000

*2,300

0

0

0

0

Aug. 9

New Jersey

no procedure

#800

0

0

0

0

0

June 6

New Mex.

3,782

14,079

*already on

already on

already on

0

0

July 11

New York

no procedure

#15,000

can't start

can't start

can't start

already on

can't start

Aug. 22

No. Car.

69,734

law is void

in court

0

0

0

0

June 30

No. Dakota

7,000

1,000

0

0

0

0

0

Sep. 8

Ohio

56,280

5,000

in court

*2,000

0

0

0

May 1

Oklahoma

73,188

pay fee

in court

0

0

0

0

June 21

Oregon

18,381

18,356

already on

already on

already on

*7,000

0

Aug. 29

Penn.

no procedure

#66,827

*in court

*in court

*in court

*0

0

Aug. 1

Rhode Isl.

21,815

#1,000

0

0

0

0

0

July 20

So. Caro.

10,000

10,000

already on

already on

already on

*4,500

0

July 15

So. Dakota

8,364

#3,346

already on

0

already on

0

0

June 6

Tennessee

41,314

25

0

*finished

0

0

0

April 6

Texas

45,253

45,253

already on

*5,000

*300

*0

0

May 30

Utah

2,000

#1,000

already on

already on

already on

0

0

Mar. 17

Vermont

be organized

#1,000

already on

already on

0

0

0

Sep. 21

Virginia

no procedure

#10,000

0

*14,000

0

0

0

June 13

Washington

no procedure

in court

canít start

can't start

can't start

can't start

can't start

July 7

West Va.

no procedure

#8,724

0

0

0

0

0

May 8

Wisconsin

10,000

#2,000

already on

already on

already on

0

0

July 11

Wyoming

4,774

4,774

already on

0

0

0

0

Aug. 28

TOTAL STATES ON
*28
*18
*18
1
2
-

3 states (Ky., La., N.C.) have no statewide race.
*change since Feb. 1 chart.
#partisan label is permitted (other than "indp.").
"Deadline" is procedure with latest deadline.
"Wk Fam" = "Working Families Party." "SWP" = Socialist Workers Party.


LIBERTARIANS GAIN A COUNTY COMMISSIONER IN NEW MEXICO

On February 24, Paul Edward Trujillo, Chairman of the Valencia County Commission, changed his registration from Democrat to Libertarian. He is running for re-election this year as a Libertarian.

It is possible that he is the first partisan office-holder in New Mexico to be registered in a party other than Democratic or Republican. Although the Green Party did very well in New Mexico between 1994 and 2002, and although some of its members won non-partisan office, no Green ever won a partisan office in New Mexico.

New Mexico has only been a state since 1912. Until 1994, there had never been a strong third party in New Mexico. In 1912, New Mexico was the only western state in which Socialist Eugene Debs polled under 6%. Also in 1912, it was the only western state in which Theodore Roosevelt, Progressive, polled less than 22% (he got 17% in New Mexico). In 1924 it was the only western state in which Robert La Follette, Progressive, got under 20% of the vote (he got 8% in New Mexico). In 1992, Ross Perot polled over 20% of the vote in every western state except Hawaii and New Mexico; Perot only polled 16% in New Mexico.


PROGRESSIVE PARTY WINS BURLINGTON

On March 7, the voters of Burlington, Vermont, elected Progressive Party nominee Bob Kiss for Mayor. Kiss was an incumbent Progressive Party member of the legislature. The outcome was a surprise. Most observers had expected the Democratic nominee, Hinda Miller, to win, since the outgoing Mayor is a Democrat and since Miller outspent Kiss eight to one.

First-choice votes left no one with a majority: Kiss 3,809; Miller 3,106; the Republican 2,609; independent 119; Green 57; write-ins 78. After the IRV process was complete, Kiss had 4,761; Miller had 3,986. Voters who voted for the Republican on the first round were just as likely to vote Progressive as Democratic for their second choice.


BADNARIK RAISES $200,000

Michael Badnarik, Libertarian candidate for U.S. House, Texas 10th district, has already raised $200,000 for his campaign this year. This is probably the most money raised by any nationally-organized minor party candidate for U.S. House in at least four years.


IDAHO NATURAL LAW PARTY

Although the Natural Law Party nationally no longer exists, the Idaho unit of the party has decided to keep its ballot status. In Idaho, a party remains on the ballot simply by running at least 3 candidates, every two years. Three candidates filed in the partyís primary this year. One of them is the founder of another party, the United Party, which only exists in Idaho and which has never been on the ballot under its own name. It is socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Idaho lets parties change their names, and Natural Law may change its name to the United Party.


LABOR PARTY PETITIONING

The Labor Party has 16,000 signatures in South Carolina, and expects to finish by April 15.


HARRY BROWNE DIES

Harry Browne, Libertarian Party presidential nominee in 1996 and 2000, died in Tennessee on March 1, aged 72. LewRockwell.com has a very comprehensive obituary.


UTAH HAS TWO GREEN PARTIES

In 2004, the Utah Green Party broke into two factions, over the presidential election. Since the two factions couldnít heal the breach, both of them have qualified for the ballot. The faction that is not affiliated with the national party is called the Green Party. The other faction is the Desert Greens. Although both have candidates this year, there are no races in which nominees from both parties are opposing each other.


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