July 1, 2006 Ė Volume 22, Number 3

This issue was originally printed on white paper.

Table of Contents

  1. ACLU SUES ARKANSAS OVER BALLOT ACCESS
  2. MASSACHUSETTS INITIATIVE QUALFIES
  3. LOUISIANA CLOSES CONGRESS PRIMARIES
  4. ALABAMA DEADLINE CASE LOSES
  5. ALASKA GREENS
  6. TOM DeLAY MAY BE STUCK ON BALLOT
  7. SUPREME COURT CAMPAIGN FINANCE DECISION
  8. HIGH COURT DENIES OHIO DEADLINE CASE
  9. OTHER LAWSUIT NEWS
  10. NEW ALLY
  11. MID-2006 REGISTRATION TOTALS
  12. 2006 PETITIONING FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE
  13. WELD DESERTS LIBERTARIANS
  14. WILL UNITY08 BECOME A PARTY?
  15. SUBSCRIBING TO BAN WITH PAYPAL


ACLU SUES ARKANSAS OVER BALLOT ACCESS
FIRST ACLU BALLOT ACCESS LAWSUIT SINCE 2002

On June 27, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas ballot access for new parties. Green Party of Arkansas v Daniels, 4:06-cv-758. The issue is the number of signatures needed for a new party to get on the ballot.

This is the first time the ACLU has brought a constitutional case against a state ballot access law for minor parties or independent candidates since 2002. The 2002 case eliminated a Kansas law requiring parties to have only one word in their name.

The Arkansas election law says a new party needs signatures equal to 3% of the last gubernatorial vote, which is 24,171 signatures this year. However, ten years ago, that law was held unconstitutional in a Reform Party lawsuit, called Citizens to Establish a Reform Party v Priest. That 1996 decision struck down the 3% petition, on the grounds that since the state only requires 10,000 signatures for a non-presidential statewide independent, and since only one such independent had qualified in the entire history of the law, itís obviously not necessary to require more than 10,000 for a new party.

When the 1996 lawsuit was filed, no party had ever qualified by petition in Arkansas history (before 1971, no petition had been required; any party could be on the ballot just by asking). Furthermore, no party has qualified since 1996 either. Arkansas has a separate procedure, requiring only 1,000 signatures, for minor parties to be on the ballot for president only, and of course that 1,000-signature procedure has been used frequently.

Arkansas has had fewer minor party and independent candidates on the ballot for Governor and U.S. Senator than any other state, during the period 1980-2004. See the June 1, 2005 B.A.N. for a chart documenting this.

The new lawsuit is simple. It asks for an injunction to force the state to obey the 1996 decision. Earlier this year, the Green Party turned in 18,000 signatures, so it probably has 10,000 valid. The state has refused to check them.

The new lawsuit was assigned to Judge George Howard, the same judge who handled the 1996 case.

The state had appealed the 1996 decision to the 8th circuit. However, after both sides had submitted briefs to the 8th circuit, the state had dropped the appeal. Therefore, the state is in a very weak legal position.

The Secretary of State and the Attorney General claim they donít need to obey the 1996 decision on the matter of the number of signatures, because in 1997 the legislature improved the petition deadline (moving it from January to May).


MASSACHUSETTS INITIATIVE QUALFIES

On June 27, the Massachusetts Secretary of State verified that an initiative to legalize fusion, and also to make it much easier for a party to remain on the ballot, will appear on the November 2006 ballot. The Working Families Party did the difficult work of qualifying this initiative. Technically, however, the initiative is sponsored by Massachusetts Ballot Freedom.

Existing law requires a party to poll 3% of the vote for any statewide race, every two years. Itís fairly easy for a party to poll 3% in mid-term years, since Massachusetts elects five state statewide offices in mid-term years. But in presidential years, the only statewide offices up are president, and also, two-thirds of the time, U.S. Senate. In 2004, president was the only statewide office up.

Because itís more difficult for minor parties to poll 3% for president than for any other statewide office, both of the qualified Massachusetts minor parties (Green and Libertarian) went off the ballot in 2004.

It is true that parties can also remain on the ballot (regardless of the 3% vote test) if they have registration of at least 1% of the state total, but no party other than the two major parties has met ever achieved the registration alternative. Even the Republican Party has only 14% of the Massachusetts registration.

The Working Families Party initiative changes the definition of "party," so that a party need only meet the vote test at either of the last two elections.

The other part of the initiative legalizes fusion, i.e., the ability of two parties to jointly nominate the same candidate. The Working Families Party of New York (the strongest and oldest state unit of the party) generally prefers to cross-endorse Democratic nominees, but it sometimes runs its own nominees and even occasionally cross-endorses Republicans. The Massachusetts Working Families Party wants to do the same.

Massachusetts Ballot Freedom will start an ad campaign in September to pass the initiative. Twenty-five labor union locals have already endorsed the initiative. It is not yet clear if the major parties will fight the initiative.


LOUISIANA CLOSES CONGRESS PRIMARIES

On June 23, Louisianaís Governor signed SB 18, which switches congressional elections from the non-partisan "top-two" election system, to semi-closed primaries. The law takes effect next year. Independents will be able to vote in any partyís primary, unless a party excludes them.


ALABAMA DEADLINE CASE LOSES

On May 30, U.S. District Court Judge Myron Thompson, a Carter appointee, upheld Alabamaís June 6 petition deadline for minor parties and non-presidential independent candidates. Swanson v Worley, 2:02cv644. The decision is being appealed.

The decision is of low quality. It doesnít mention either of the Supreme Court decisions on the subject of early petition deadlines, Anderson v Celebrezze or Mandel v Bradley. Nor does it mention the leading 11th circuit precedent on early deadlines, New Alliance Party v Hand. Instead, it depends on Jenness v Fortson, the 1971 case that upheld Georgiaís ballot access laws. However, the Georgia June petition deadline was not an issue in that case. Furthermore, Justice Stevens, writing separately in Mandel v Bradley, had pointed out that lower courts should not use Jenness as a deadline precedent.

The Alabama deadline is discriminatory, since the major parties donít hold their run-off primaries until mid-July. Judge Thompsonís decision did not mention this point. Thompsonís decision also did not mention any state interest in the deadline, except that the state needs the time to check signatures. However, Alabama independent presidential petitions are not due until early September, and the state seems to be able to check those signatures. Thompson did not mention the September petition deadline for independent presidential candidates.

Thompson revealed his bias against this lawsuit by comparing it to "the mythical Greek Hydra: Just as the court resolves one claim, another appears in its place." He was referring to the fact that he had already ruled against the plaintiffs on the issue of the number of signatures (3% of the last gubernatorial vote) back in August 2004. The plaintiffs had presented all their claims simultaneously; it wasnít the plaintiffsí fault that Judge Thompson had forgotten to rule on all the issues, back in 2004.


ALASKA GREENS

Alaska elections officials are making a major effort to win the ballot access lawsuit filed by the Green Party. The issue is whether the stateís definition of "political party" violates the State Constitution. Green Party of Alaska v State, 3AN-05-10787.

In 1982, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the Alaska Constitution gives more protection to ballot access than the U.S. Constitution. In the current case, the lower state court has already issued an injunction, leaving the Green Party on the ballot while the lawsuit is underway, even though the party does not qualify under the law passed in 2004.

That law requires a party to have registration membership of 3% of the last vote cast (an irrational law, since the requirement fluctuates wildly, depending on whether the last election was a presidential year or a mid-term year).

Or, if it doesnít have the necessary registrants, a party may also qualify if it polled 3% of the vote cast at the last election. But, only one office counts. If the last election was a mid-term year, only the vote for Governor counts; if the last election was a presidential year, only the vote for U.S. Senate counts. If there was no U.S. Senate election in the last presidential election, then and only then does the vote for U.S. House count.

The Green Party consistently outpolls all other minor parties in the state, for Governor, U.S. Senator, and U.S. House. However, the Green Party doesnít have enough registrants to qualify under the registration test, whereas the other two qualified minor parties (Libertarian and Alaskan Independence) do. Therefore, if the state wins the case, the minor party that polls the most votes of all the minor parties will be off the ballot.

The state has hired a Political Scientist from Washington state to help it defeat the Green Party. He argues that the partyís 2004 vote for U.S. House (3.83%), and its 2002 vote for U.S. Senate (7.24%), and its 2002 vote for U.S. House (6.35%), are relatively meaningless.

He says that since congressional elections in Alaska are always easily won by Republicans, the Democrats donít really try to win, and so the Greens have an unfair advantage in those elections.

The Green Party, on the other hand, argues that congressional elections are the best measurement of votersí political attitudes. Alaska gubernatorial elections are usually close between the two major parties, so the Green vote for Governor is invariably under 3% because of the "wasted vote" fear. Greens argue that the political philosophy of voters is best measured in elections that donít have this "wasted vote" fear characteristic.

Alaska elections officials have also required the Green Party to provide a great deal of information about itself, such as (1) how many party members are voter registrars; (2) what efforts the party has made to increase its registration; (3) how many people attend its state conventions; (4) how many regional conventions it holds; (5) what political activities the party has engaged in during the last fifteen years; (6) how much money the party has raised each year since 1996; (7) the physical address of the partyís office ever since 1990, and that officeís phone number. There are other questions as well.


TOM DeLAY MAY BE STUCK ON BALLOT

A decision is expected soon on whether Congressman Tom DeLay may withdraw from the November ballot. He was nominated for another term in March, and then tried to withdraw so that the Republican Party could choose a new nominee. But, Texas doesnít permit withdrawal unless the candidate is ineligible. DeLay says he is ineligible because he moved to Virginia in April, but Article One applies a residency test only on election day, and the states are powerless to add to the qualifications listed in Article One.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks seemed to be leaning against DeLay at the hearing on June 26. Texas Democratic Party v Benkiser, 06-2089, western district.


SUPREME COURT CAMPAIGN FINANCE DECISION

On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Vermontís campaign finance restrictions. Randall v Sorrell, 04-1528. The ruling struck down Vermontís expenditure limits, on the basis that the same court had already ruled in 1976 in Buckley v Valeo that government cannot limit campaign expenditures, except for candidates who choose to accept public funding. This part of the decision will probably cause advocates of campaign finance restrictions to work harder for public funding of campaigns.

The longer and more newsworthy part of the decision also struck down Vermontís campaign contribution limits, on the grounds that they are so low, that it becomes difficult for political parties to support their nominees; and also on the grounds that such low limits make it difficult to defeat incumbents. Limits varied from $200 to $400, according to the office. Even parties could not give more than these limits to their own nominees. This was the first U.S. Supreme Court decision ever striking down campaign contribution limits on the grounds that the amounts are too low. No other state had such restrictive limits.

The decision said, "We agree with the District Court that the Actís contribution limits Ďwould reduce the voice of political partiesí in Vermont to a Ďwhisper.í"


HIGH COURT DENIES OHIO DEADLINE CASE

On June 5, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Lawrence v Blackwell, 05-1089, the case challenging the Ohio March 1 petition deadline for independent candidates (other than president).

The Coalition for Free & Open Elections (COFOE) had paid for the expenses of printing briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court. COFOE thanks all the people who contributed to this case. COFOE also thanks Law Professor Mark Brown, who wrote the cert petitions pro bono.


OTHER LAWSUIT NEWS

California: on June 22, the 9th circuit held a rehearing in Padilla v Lever, 03-56259. The issue is whether recall and initiative petitions must be available in languages other than English (in jurisdictions that are required to print ballots in other languages). The original panel had ruled 2-1 that other languages must be included; it seems somewhat likely that the 15 judges in the rehearing panel will reverse that decision.

California (2): on June 26, a San Bernardino County Superior Judge ruled that when an initiative needs a certain percentage of the vote in the last election, and a new election is held while the initiative is circulating, the required number of signatures is based on the new election, not the old election. City of San Bernardino v Garza, scv-ss-138507. This ruling contradicts the conclusion of a U.S. District Court in Nevada in 2005. However, no appeal is planned.

Colorado: on June 19, a Denver District Court upheld the stateís congressional distribution requirement for candidates seeking a place on a major party primary. Holtzman v Dennis, 06-cv-6287. The plaintiff, Marc Holtzman, had hoped to run in the Republican primary for Governor. Since he didnít have enough support at the partyís nominating convention, he needed signatures from 1,500 party members in each of the stateís seven U.S. House districts, or a total of 10,500. He got 10,500 signatures, but they werenít distributed properly. On June 22, the State Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal.

Florida: on June 20, the 11th circuit ruled that the U.S. Constitution does not require Florida to use vote-counting equipment that produces an audit trail. Wexler v Anderson, 04-16280.

Illinois: the 7th circuit heard Lee v Illinois Board of Elections, 05-4355, on June 9. The case challenges the independent candidate requirements for state legislature (a petition signed by 10% of the last vote cast, due in December of the year before the election). The hearing went well.

Missouri: on May 31, a U.S. District Court dismissed Miller v Secretary of State, 06-5032, Springfield, on a technicality. The plaintiff, Glenn Miller, a white supremacist, had tried to run for U.S. House in the Democratic primary, but the Democratic Party refused to accept his filing fee because of his views. No state law gives parties the right to reject candidates for political reasons. Miller sued, but the judge said his lawsuit was flawed because he only sued the Secretary of State, and he should have also sued the Democratic Party.

New Mexico: on May 16, the State Supreme Court ruled that the presidential recount requested by the Green and Libertarian presidential candidates in 2004 should have been done. Cobb v State Canvassing Board, 29095. However, it is now physically impossible to conduct the recount. The Court also invalidated a 2005 law that tried to retroactively increase the cost of recounts.

New York: on June 2, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that if a political party chooses to dissolve some of its county units, it need not get permission from the U.S. Justice Department, even if the counties are covered by section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (certain states and counties cannot change their election procedures without getting such permission). Fulani v MacKay, 06-cv-3747, s.d.. In this case, the Independence Party had dissolved county units that are controlled by political allies of Lenora Fulani. The case is being appealed.


NEW ALLY

The Center for Competitive Democracy, which works for fairer ballot access, now has 501(c)(3) status. Ph. (202) 248-9294.


MID-2006 REGISTRATION TOTALS

This chart shows the number of registered voters in each party. All of the data is as of spring 2006, except that the New England states donít have any 2006 data yet, so for those states, the data is for 2005 or late 2004.

`

Dem

Rep

Indp

Const

Green

Libt

Refm

NatLaw

other

Ak

66,218

111,526

243,319

5

3,712

9,382

58

7

20,188

Az

910,207

1,062,229

673,384

?

1,546

18,395

?

?

?

Cal

6,685,288

5,387,865

2,939,663

311,481

143,573

83,132

35,000

22,892

59,545

Colo

871,389

1,044,940

983,204

278

4,789

6,048

276

540

165

Ct

653,055

427,803

875,223

229

1,914

782

?

?

?

Del

243,092

177,263

126,868

278

622

750

187

216

834

DC

275,114

29,935

63,716

?

4,972

?

?

?

?

Fl

4,280,480

3,963,459

2,258,489

840

6,699

15,453

3,967

?

2,428

Iowa

587,909

592,434

742,109

?

?

?

?

?

?

Kan

437,527

757,932

440,081

?

?

9,002

1,518

?

?

Ky

1,548,443

989,499

171,688

28

102

187

12

?

?

La

1,552,023

700,190

605,928

50

1,130

1,659

2,261

19

66

Me

319,198

287,452

393,151

?

24,155

?

?

?

?

Md

1,694,528

902,995

475,489

463

7,853

3,644

?

?

49

Mass

1,526,711

532,319

1,995,452

56

9,509

23,900

1,168

44

?

Neb

371,037

578,916

184,119

6,308

361

?

?

?

?

Nev

371,925

384,253

136,925

29,803

2,612

5,463

264

802

?

NH

228,766

266,770

360,325

?

?

?

?

?

?

NJ

1,137,312

878,906

2,820,183

132

735

519

106

50

?

NM

532,881

353,588

176,622

60

8,656

2,773

126

34

19

NY

5,489,521

3,143,233

2,322,966

?

36,141

798

?

?

634,726

NoC

2,508,280

1,897,336

1,070,366

?

?

?

?

?

?

Ok

1,021,053

778,405

209,515

?

?

?

?

?

?

Or

779,986

727,650

478,597

2,988

12,580

15,803

?

?

270

Pa

3,840,548

3,290,200

895,034

3,433

16,813

34,559

?

?

?

RI

254,418

68,083

349,405

?

901

?

?

?

?

SD

185,768

233,299

68,793

329

?

1,092

?

?

?

Ut

117,958

376,096

900,784

745

790

1,784

284

104

219

WV

648,106

340,760

140,395

?

?

?

?

?

747

Wy

64,387

154,069

32,039

?

?

415

?

?

?

TOT

39,203,128

30,439,405

23,133,832

357,506

290,165

235,540

45,227

24,708

719,256

The parties in the "Other" column are: in Alas., 13,542 Alaskan Indpc., 5,168 Republican Moderate and 1,478 Veterans; Peace & Freedom in Cal.; in Del., 413 Soc. Wkrs, 387 Indp. Party and 34 Working Fam.; in Fla., America First 472, Soc. Wkrs. 297, Socialist 512, Prohibition 21, Veterans 1,126; these N.Y. parties: Independence 339,382, Conservative 154,614, Liberal 68,242, Right to Life 39,594, Working Families 32,723, Marijuana Ref. 171; Socialist in Ore.; in Utah, 155 Soc. Wkrs. and 64 Personal Choice; Mountain in West Virginia.

A dash means voters cannot register into that party (Iowa and Kansas have no blank line on the voter registration form).

Totals Oct. 2004 were: Dem. 40,231,224 (41.87%), Rep. 31,050,139 (32.32%), Indp. & misc. 23,047,214 (23.99%), Constitution 367,521 (.38%), Green 312,963 (.33%), Libertarian 258,408 (.27%), Reform 51,291 (.05%), Natural Law 30.922 (.03%), other parties 728,945 (.76k%).

Totals October 2000 were: Dem. 38,529,264 (43.84%), Rep. 28,813,511 (32.78%), Indp. & misc. 18,999,126 (21.62%), Constitution 348,977 (.40%), Libertarian 224,713 (.26%), Green 193,332 (.22%), Reform 99,408 (.11%), Natural Law 61,405 (.07%), other parties 620,668 (.71%).

Totals October 1998 were: Dem. 37,425,660 (44.94%), Rep. 27,695,767 (33.26%), Indp. & misc. 16,804,922 (20.18%), Constitution (then called U.S. Taxpayers) 317,510 (.38%), Reform 245,831 (.30%), Libertarian 179,255 (.22%), Green 118,537 (.14%), Natural Law 70,032 (.08%), other parties 424,101 (.51%).

Totals October 1996 were: Dem. 36,946,324 (45.68%), Rep. 27,323,046 (33.78%), Indp. & misc. 15,227,612 (18.83%), Constitution 306,900 (.38%), Reform 207,933 (.26%), Libertarian 162,545 (.20%), Green 112,199 (.14%), Natural Law 85,853 (.11%), other parties 328,833 (.63%).


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

*too late

*too late

*too late

*too late

*too late

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

*too late

*too late

*too late

*too late

June 14

Arkansas

10,000

10,000

1,000

*in court

0

0

0

*unclear

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

*4,000

already on

0

0

*Aug. 9

Delaware

est. (reg) 280

est. 5,600

already on

already on

already on

*250

already on

July 15

D.C.

no procedure

est. #3,800

*0

already on

*0

*0

*50

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

*0

0

0

July 25

Idaho

11,968

5,984

already on

0

already on

0

0

Aug. 31

Illinois

no procedure

#25,000

*too late

*finished

*too late

*too late

*too late

June 26

Indiana

no procedure

#29,553

already on

*too late

*too late

*too late

*too late

June 30

Iowa

no procedure

#1,500

*300

*300

0

0

0

Aug. 18

Kansas

16,477

5,000

already on

0

0

0

0

July 31

Kentucky

no procedure

#2,400

*1,000

0

0

0

0

Aug. 8

La.

(reg) 1,000

pay fee

already on

already on

47

0

22

Sep. 7

Maine

24,798

#4,000

*too late

already on

*too late

*too late

*too late

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

*3,000

0

*2,000

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

*12,000

500

0

0

July 31

Montana

5,000

#5,000

already on

*too late

already on

0

0

May 30

Nebraska

4,735

2,500

300

*5,500

already on

0

0

Aug. 29

Nevada

7,915

7,915

already on

*already on

already on

0

0

July 7

New Hamp.

20,299

#3,000

*2,900

0

0

0

0

Aug. 9

New Jersey

no procedure

#800

*already on

0

0

0

*already on

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

*already on

*already on

*too late

*too late

*too late

May 1

Oklahoma

73,188

pay fee

in court

*too late

*too late

*too late

*too late

June 21

Oregon

18,381

18,356

already on

already on

already on

*already on

0

Aug. 29

Penn.

no procedure

#67,070

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

*disputed

0

July 15

So. Dakota

8,364

#3,346

already on

0

already on

0

0

June 6

Tennessee

41,314

25

too late

already on

too late

too late

too late

April 6

Texas

45,253

45,253

already on

*too late

*too late

*too late

*too late

May 30

Utah

2,000

#1,000

already on

already on

already on

*too late

*too late

Mar. 17

Vermont

be organized

#1,000

already on

already on

0

0

0

Sep. 21

Virginia

no procedure

#10,000

*too late

*already on

*too late

*too late

*too late

June 13

Washington

no procedure

#1,000

*finished

*finished

*0

*0

*0

July 7

West Va.

no procedure

#8,724

*too late

*too late

*too late

*too late

*too late

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
*30
*22
18
*2
*3
`

2 states (Ky. and 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.


WELD DESERTS LIBERTARIANS

On June 6, William Weld dropped out of the New York gubernatorial race. The Libertarian Party then replaced him with one of its own members, John Clifton.


WILL UNITY08 BECOME A PARTY?

On May 30, a new organization called Unity08 issued a press release, "New Organization Offers Voters an Answer to Partisan Paralysis, Seeks to Elect Bipartisan, ĎUnity Ticketí to White House in í08 Ticket to be Chosen via Online Convention."

Individuals behind this effort include Angus King (past independent Governor of Maine), Hamilton Jordan (chief of staff to President Jimmy Carter), and Doug Bailey (Republican campaign consultant).

The press release listed three goals: " (1) Elect a Unity Ticket to the White House in 2008, headed by an individual from each major political party or by an independent who presents a Unity Team from both parties ("Unity Team" includes the proposed cabinet); (2) Have the American people choose that ticket via a virtual, secure online convention; (3) Effect the major change and reform in the 2008 elections by influencing the major parties to adopt the core features of Unity08ís national agenda."

The "core features" are listed as crucial issues for the nationís future, such as education, energy independence, deficit spending, global terrorism, health care, and nuclear proliferation.

The groupís major effort so far has been to draw attention to its website, where it encourages people to sign up as potential voters in its on-line spring 2008 presidential selection process. The group is concentrating especially hard on college students, and college students are well represented on the organizationís council of founders. Already, more than 100 colleges have Unity08 organizers. The national debt, which has grown at a staggering pace in this decade, disproportionately injures the youngest segment of the U.S. population.

Unity08 has been slow to develop a method for supporters to organize. Some Unity08 activists have created a supplemental "unofficial" site, http://unitysupporters.com.

The group might have preferred to sponsor its presidential candidate as an independent. However, ballot access for independent presidential candidates is in some ways more difficult now than it was in the period 1983-1995. This is especially true for petition deadlines. There was a point in 1987 and/or 1988 when every stateís deadline was in July, or later. Since then, six states have shifted to June (Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico, North Carolina). And Texas now has an early May deadline.

These relatively early deadlines, especially the Texas deadline, make it almost impossible for an independent presidential candidate to arise as late as April of an election year. The Texas requirement in 2008 will be 74,108 valid signatures, to be gathered in March, April and the first week in May from the ranks of people who did not vote in the March presidential primary. The Texas deadline ought to have been declared unconstitutional, but in 2004, U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel upheld it, in a decision that was filled with important factual errors.

Therefore, the most practical solution for Unity08 is to create a new political party. A new party petition in Texas requires substantially fewer signatures, has a later deadline, and (most importantly) can be circulated before the group has chosen its presidential candidate. Certain other states (Florida, Maryland, New Mexico and Oregon) also have easier requirements for new parties than for independent presidential candidates.

Another advantage to creating a new party, versus an independent candidacy, is that individuals seeking a new partyís presidential nomination may qualify for primary season matching funds. They need to raise $5,000 in each of 20 states to do so. The only requirement (in connection with primary season funds) relating to the party, is that it be on the ballot in at least two states. But, independent presidential candidates who are not seeking the nomination of any party cannot file for primary season matching funds.


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