April 1, 2009 Volume 24, Number 11

This issue was originally printed on pink paper.

Table of Contents

  1. PENNSYLVANIA SUPREME COURT AGREES TO RE-HEAR 2006 CASE ON $80,408 LEVIED AGAINST GREEN PARTY NOMINEE
  2. U.S. SUPREME COURT REFUSES ARIZONA's REQUEST ON NADER
  3. MORE BALLOT ACCESS BILLS INTRODUCED
  4. RESTRICTIVE DAKOTA BILL DEFEATED
  5. ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE WON'T PUT GREENS ON BALLOT
  6. NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE BILLS PASS IN ONE HOUSE IN 5 STATES
  7. IRV BILLS
  8. WRITE-IN BILLS
  9. OKLA. BALLOT ACCESS
  10. LAWSUIT NEWS
  11. BOOK REVIEW: YOU CAN'T BE PRESIDENT
  12. SOUTH CAROLINA FUSION IN DANGER
  13. SUPREME COURT BIAS
  14. U.S. SUPREME COURT REFUSALS TO HEAR MINOR PARTY, INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE BALLOT ACCESS LAWSUITS, 1980-2009
  15. TWO STATES TELL MAJOR PARTIES TO HOLD EARLIER CONVENTIONS
  16. PROGRESSIVE PARTY RE-ELECTS MAYOR OF BURLINGTON
  17. SPECTER PONDERS INDEPENDENT RUN
  18. MISSOURI POLICE REPORT SEEMS TO SLUR RON PAUL SUPPORTERS
  19. MARYLAND HAS AN INDEPENDENT STATE LEGISLATOR
  20. BLOOMBERG AND REPUBLICANS
  21. PRESIDENTIAL VOTE STILL CHANGING
  22. SUBSCRIBING TO BAN WITH PAYPAL


PENNSYLVANIA SUPREME COURT AGREES TO RE-HEAR 2006 CASE ON $80,408 LEVIED AGAINST GREEN PARTY NOMINEE

On March 12, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to rehear the 2006 case that imposed $80,408 in court costs and fees against the Green Party's nominee for U.S. Senate. In re Nomination Papers of Rogers, no. 6 MAP 2009. Activists didn't learn of this until March 16, when the order arrived in the postal mail.

Pennsylvania, uniquely among the states, uses courts to determine if a petition has enough valid signatures, rather than having elections officials check the signatures (in some states petitions are checked automatically, and in some they are only checked if someone files a challenge). If a Pennsylvania court finds the candidate did not have enough signatures, then the candidate is liable for court costs. This system is not old; it had never been done this way until 2004, when similar costs were imposed against Ralph Nader.

The $80,408 consists of $48,285 in fees for the attorneys who represented the Democratic Party challengers to the Green petition in 2006, $25,481 in court costs, $5,141 in copying and stenography costs, and $1,500 for handwriting experts. Interest has been accruing, so the total now is even bigger. Both Carl Romanelli, the Green Party's U.S. Senate candidate, and his attorney, Larry Otter, are liable for this bill.

The March 12, 2009 order of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court shows that persistence pays. The lower court, the Commonwealth Court, had first imposed these fees on January 25, 2007. Romanelli and Otter had then appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. On November 20, 2007, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had told the Commonwealth Court to re-do its decision, to better explain why the candidate and his attorney were being assessed these costs.

Romanelli and Otter had then asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for a rehearing, since that had not been the relief they had been hoping to get. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had denied that rehearing request on January 23, 2008.

Then, on January 24, 2008, the Commonwealth Court re-did its original order, but with the same conclusion. Then, Romanelli and Otter had appealed again to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

On July 10, 2008, Pennsylvania's Attorney General had indicted some state employees, and even a former state legislator, for improperly using state resources and state employees (on state time) to help with both the 2004 challenge to the Nader petition, and the 2006 challenge to the Green petition. On July 15, Romanelli and Otter had again asked for a rehearing from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, on the basis of the news about the indictment. But on October 21, 2008, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had refused, presumably on the basis that the new appeal should go first to the Commonwealth Court.

Then, on January 15, 2009, Romanelli and Otter had asked the Commonwealth Court to rehear the case, based on the information about the July indictments. That Court had refused on January 23. Romanelli and Otter then appealed again to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Of course, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court may read the briefs from both sides, and then rule unfavorably. However, the Libertarian, Green and Constitution Parties are about to file a federal case, alleging that states may not impose administrative costs of elections on candidates. That case will be called Constitution Party of Pennsylvania v Cortes.


U.S. SUPREME COURT REFUSES ARIZONA's REQUEST ON NADER

On March 9, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Brewer v Nader, 08-648. The Arizona Secretary of State had asked the Court to overturn the 9th circuit's July 2008 ruling, striking down both the Arizona independent presidential petition deadline of early June, and the Arizona law outlawing out-of-state circulators.

This means that the 9th circuit ruling is safe, and can be used to fight similar restrictions in other states in the 9th circuit. Idaho, California, and Alaska ban out-of-state circulators, and they are in the 9th circuit. Already a case is pending in U.S. District Court against the Idaho ban on out-of-state circulators.

Also, a lawsuit is now pending against Montana's non-presidential independent petition deadline, which is in March. It will now be easier to win that lawsuit. Montana is in the 9th circuit. Montana had filed an amicus brief, asking the Supreme Court to hear the Arizona case.

The fight against Arizona's independent presidential deadline has gone on for almost a decade. It is the second earliest independent presidential petition in the nation; only Texas has an earlier deadline. In 2000, when the Arizona Libertarian Party refused to place national Libertarian nominee Harry Browne on the November ballot, Browne circulated an independent petition. But since it was submitted past the deadline, he sued in state court to overturn the deadline. The State Court of Appeals struck it down, but the State Supreme Court restored it. Browne then asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his appeal, but in 2002 the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear it.


MORE BALLOT ACCESS BILLS INTRODUCED

Since the March 1 B.A.N., ballot access improvement bills have been introduced in the West Virginia House, the Illinois House, and the Maryland House.

Illinois: HB 2620, by Rep. William Black (R-Danville) would make the number of signatures needed for independent candidates, and the nominees of unqualified parties, equal to the number that primary candidates for the same office need. Because the number of signatures for primary ballot access (for district office) varies according to which political party is involved, the bill makes the general election petition equal to the primary petition of the qualified party with the highest number. Black is the Deputy Republican leader. If the bill were to pass, the statewide petition would drop from 25,000 to 5,000.

Maryland: HB 1562 would lower the number of signatures for a previously unqualified party from 10,000 to 5,000 signatures. It is a companion bill to SB 947. It is sponsored by four Republicans, one Democrat, and the state's independent legislator.

West Virginia: HB 2981 would lower the number of signatures for an independent, or the nominee of an unqualified party, from 2% of the last vote cast to 1%. It would also move the non-presidential petition deadline from May to August, so that it matches the existing presidential petition deadline. On March 18 it passed a Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.


RESTRICTIVE DAKOTA BILL DEFEATED

On February 25, the South Dakota Senate Local Government Committee killed HB 1234, which would have moved the non-presidential independent candidate petition deadline from June to April. The bill had passed the House easily, but the Senate Committee defeated it after Chris Nelson, Secretary of State, predicted that if the bill passed, it would embroil the state in a lawsuit.


ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE WON'T PUT GREENS ON BALLOT

On March 11, the Arkansas House State Agencies & Government Affairs Committee defeated HB 1247. The vote was 10-8. If the bill had passed, on the day it went into effect, the Green Party's status as a qualified party would have been restored. The Green Party did not poll as much as 3% for president in 2008, but it polled over 20% for U.S. Senate. The bill would have changed the definition of "party" from a group that got 3% for the office at the top of the ticket, to a group that got 3% for any statewide office.

All the Democrats except Lindsley Smith and Rick Sunders voted "No." All the Republicans except one voted "Yes." Before the vote, a representative of the Democratic Party urged a "No" vote, saying, "If it isn't broke, don't fix it."

It is likely that the Green Party will sue, arguing that it has demonstrated a significant modicum of support and it belongs on the ballot. It elected a state legislator last year, and polled 207,076 votes for U.S. Senate in a two-person race, and its three U.S. House candidates polled 155,851 votes (19.8% of the vote cast for that office in those three districts).

Arkansas is one of only 14 states in which no party is now ballot-qualified except for the Democratic and Republican Parties.

No federal court has ever struck down any state's definition of "political party" but there has never been a political party plaintiff in such a good position to win such a lawsuit. The only winning case, in 1983, struck down Alaska's rule that a party is a group that polled 10% for Governor. That case, Vogler v Miller, was based on the Alaska Constitution.

On the same day, the same legislative committee also defeated HB 1863, concerning candidate debates. The bill said that if the host is supported by tax dollars, all ballot-listed candidates must be invited.


NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE BILLS PASS IN ONE HOUSE IN 5 STATES

Since the March 1 B.A.N., bills to establish the National Popular Vote Plan for presidential elections have passed in one chamber, in five states: Arkansas, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont. Also the bill in Iowa has cleared the policy committee in one house.


IRV BILLS

Bills to advance Instant Runoff Voting are pending in at least two states:

California: AB 1121 would let ten general law cities or counties use Instant Runoff Voting for their own elections. The bill does not specify which ten jurisdictions; it would be up to various counties or cities to volunteer.

Vermont: H396 would provide that the state should use Instant Runoff Voting for gubernatorial general elections. H298 would provide that special congressional elections should use IRV (with each party choosing a nominee by party meeting).


WRITE-IN BILLS

Maine: LD 547 had a hearing on March 20 in the Joint Committee for Legal & Veterans Affairs, and it received a good reception. It would provide that polling places should post the list of declared write-in candidates, and also make it more likely that all towns will properly tally the vote for declared write-in candidates.

Vermont: no bill to provide that write-in candidates who want their write-ins tallied must file a declaration of write-in candidacy has been introduced, even though the Secretary of State tried to get one introduced.


OKLA. BALLOT ACCESS

On March 11, the Oklahoma House passed HB 1072, which lowers the number of signatures for a party from 5% of the last vote cast, to 5% of the last gubernatorial vote. This lowers the petition in midterm years from about 73,000 signatures, to 46,000.


LAWSUIT NEWS

Federal law: on February 25, the First Circuit upheld a Postal Regulation that bans "campaigning" on interior post office sidewalks. The plaintiff had been arrested in 2004 for petitioning on a post office sidewalk in Massachusetts. The decision assumes that petitioning is "campaigning", and upheld the regulation. The decision says that petitioning for a ballot measure is not "campaigning." The decision was written by Judge Sandra Lynch, a Clinton appointee, and co-signed by Judge Kermit Lipiz, a Clinton appointee, and Judge Michael Boudin, a Bush Sr. appointee. Del Gallo v Parent, 08-1511.

California: on March 16, the faction of the American Independent Party that identifies with the national Constition Party filed a lawsuit over the identity of the AIP state officers. King v Robinson, Solano Co. Superior Court, no. 033119. The other faction identifies with Alan Keyes and his America's Independent Party.

Oregon: on March 5, the 9th circuit issued a ruling that erases a bad ballot access decision from a U.S. District Court. Wasson v Brown, no. 07-35694. The U.S. District Court, in 2007, had upheld an Oregon law that makes it illegal for primary voters to sign an independent candidate's petition.

The 9th circuit erased the lower court decision on the grounds that the plaintiff didn't have standing. The plaintiff was an ordinary voter, not a voter who wanted to sign for any particular independent candidate. This outcome was made possible by Dan Meek, a pro bono attorney who filed an excellent amicus brief on behalf of COFOE. Now it will be possible someday for a new lawsuit against the Oregon restriction, if the legislature doesn't repeal it first. A bill to repeal it, SB 326, is pending.

Rhode Island: the ACLU ballot access case Block v Mollis, 09-47 (U.S. District Court) will have a hearing in late April or early May. It challenges the law that makes it illegal to circulate the petition for a new party in an odd year.


BOOK REVIEW: YOU CAN'T BE PRESIDENT

You Can't be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America, by John MacArthur, 2008. Hard cover, 288 pages.

The author is the publisher of Harper's Magazine, and also had written these other books: (1) Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War; and (2) The Selling of "Free Trade": NAFTA, Washington, and the Subversion of American Democracy.

MacArthur has passionate views about policy. As this book reveals, he regrets that the U.S. declared war on Mexico in 1846; he regrets that the U.S. entered World War I in 1917; he regrets that the U.S. intervened in Vietnam in the 1960's; he regrets that the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. Starting from that vantage point, he turns his attention to why certain presidential elections in the past elected presidents who were willing to go to war, even when public opinion was opposed to war.

His findings are not startling. He gathers evidence showing that presidential candidates with access to a great deal of campaign funding, or presidential candidates who are supported by the core leaders of each of the two major parties, have a huge advantage over other candidates.

MacArthur is not really very interested in the problems that plague minor party and independent presidential candidates, because he doesn't imagine any of them getting elected anyway. He turns most of his attention to why the Democratic Party nominated certain candidates. For example, he discusses 1968, when the Party nominated Hubert Humphrey instead of Gene McCarthy (even though polls showed, as of July, that McCarthy would be a stronger nominee against Richard Nixon). He analyzes why the Democratic Party nominated John Kerry instead of Howard Dean in 2004. He celebrates Jimmy Carter's victory in 1976, and criticizes Ted Kennedy for opposing Carter in 1980 Democratic primaries.

The book was finished in the summer of 2008, before the author could know the outcome of the general election, but after Barack Obama had secured the Democratic nomination. In order to support his thesis that the Democratic Party is not internally democratic and usually nominates someone for president who is supported by the party bosses, MacArthur must criticize Obama. He paints a portrait of Obama as someone beholden to the Daley machine, and gathers evidence to support that point. He suggests that Obama ran in the Democratic primary in 2000 against incumbent Democratic Congressmember Bobby Rush, because the Daley machine wished to punish Rush for having run for Mayor against the Daley forces in 1999.

Only a few pages in the book deal with structural hurdles to minor party and independent presidential candidates. Pages 62-63 deal with Ralph Nader's ballot access woes in 2004, especially in Oregon; and page 40 mentions the rough barrier faced by independent Congressional candidate Cindy Sheehan in California in 2008 (the requirement that she obtain 10,198 valid signatures).

The book does not mention general election presidential debates, and does not take a clear stand on whether it favors limits on campaign contributions and expenditures. And, the book seems very grumpy about Connecticut's permissive ballot access laws for independent candidates, which in 2006 enabled Senator Joseph Lieberman to run in the general election as an independent, even after he had lost that year's Democratic primary. That aspect of Connecticut's election laws is exemplary, if one believes that the voters should be able to vote for anyone they wish. MacArthur doesn't seem to realize he contradicts himself on this point.


SOUTH CAROLINA FUSION IN DANGER

On March 3, the South Carolina House passed H3067, to outlaw fusion. The vote was 71-41. The bill is now pending in a Senate subcommittee.


SUPREME COURT BIAS

On March 20, Allan Stevo asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his appeal in Stevo v Keith, the case over the number of signatures for Illinois independent candidates for U.S. House. Although his brief is excellent, it faces poor odds that the Court will accept his case.

The chart below contains a list of ballot access cases filed in the U.S. Supreme Court by minor parties and independent candidates, during the last three decades. The list contains 50 requests, all of which the Court refused to hear. All of these cases were filed by minor parties or independent candidates who had strong arguments.

The list only includes ballot access cases filed by minor parties and independent candidates. It does not include cases filed by Democrats or Republicans. The list also includes cases on how parties nominate, since that subject is closely related to ballot access. When a minor and a major party jointly filed a lawsuit, that lawsuit is included.

The list does not include election law cases filed by minor parties or independents on other topics, such as debates or campaign finance.

When one compares the list on page five with the much shorter list of cases filed by minor parties or independent candidates that the Court did accept, one learns that the Court only took 7.4% of cases filed by minor parties or independents.

However, when one looks at cases on the same topic in which the minor party or independent candidate won the lawsuit in the court below, and compares that to the rate at which the Court heard appeals filed by state governments, one sees that the Court favors state governments over minor party and independent candidates. During the last three decades, state governments that had lost in the court below asked for U.S. Supreme Court review eleven times. In five of the eleven times, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the state's appeal. Thus the Court took 45.4% of cases filed by state governments.

During the period 1980 to the present, the four cases in which minor parties or independent candidates lost in the court below, and asked for U.S. Supreme Court review, and received it, were: (1) John Anderson's appeal against Ohio's March independent candidate petition deadline; (2) the Georgia Libertarian Party's appeal against a state law forcing candidates to take drug tests; (3) the Harold Washington Party's appeal of keeping their Chicago candidates for Cook County Commission off the ballot unless the party also qualified a slate of suburban candidates for the same office; (4) the appeal of the Peace & Freedom and Libertarian Parties against the California blanket primary (in that case, the Democratic and Republican Parties were also challenging the California law).

Fortunately, in all four instances, the Supreme Court reversed the court below and gave a victory to minor parties or independent candidates.

When States Want U.S. Supreme Court Review

As noted above, when a state loses a case on these topics (in the court below) that had been brought by a minor party or independent candidate, the odds are almost 50-50 that the Supreme Court will take the state's case.

During the last three decades, the five instances when the state lost below, and the Supreme Court granted review, are: (1) California's appeal of a 9th circuit decision that invalidated state laws on how parties organize themselves, a case won by the Libertarian Party; (2) Washington's appeal of a 9th circuit decision that had invalidated the 1% vote test in the blanket primary, a case won by the Socialist Workers Party; (3) Minnesota's appeal of an 8th circuit decision that had invalidated the ban on fusion, a case won by the New Party; (4) Oklahoma's appeal of a 10th circuit decision that had enabled the Libertarian Party to invite all voters to vote in its primary; (5) Washington's appeal of a 9th circuit decision that had invalidated the "top-two" primary.

In all five of these cases except the first one, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court, and wiped out the minor party's or independent candidate's victory that had been won in the court below.

The six instances when a state government lost in the court below, and asked for U.S. Supreme Court review, and failed to get it, are: (1) Ohio's request in September 1980 to remove John Anderson from the ballot; (2) Maryland's request in 1981 to remove a Libertarian congressional candidate from the ballot (the lower court had expanded the petitioning period for special elections); (3) Colorado's request in 2001 to overturn a Constitution Party victory that had said congressional candidates need not be registered voters; (4) New York's request in 2001 to overturn an Independence Party victory on who can circulate petitions; (5) Washington's request in 2002 to overturn the 9th circuit's invalidation of the blanket primary; (6) Arizona's 2009 request to overturn the 9th circuit Nader decision (see page one).


U.S. SUPREME COURT REFUSALS TO HEAR MINOR PARTY,
INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE BALLOT ACCESS LAWSUITS, 1980-2009

STATE

REFUSAL DATE

NAME OF CASE

ISSUE

La.

Oct. 7, 2008

Libertarian Party v Dardenne

Deadline for filing presidential elector candidates

Maine

Aug. 20, 2008

Hoffman v Dunlap

Validity of signatures

Alabama

Jan. 7, 2008

Swanson v Chapman

Number of signatures

Pennsy.

Oct. 1, 2007

Rogers v Corbett

Qualified party need nominee petitions?

Pennsy.

Feb. 16, 2007

Romanelli v Election Board

Validity of signatures

Pennsy.

Jan. 8, 2007

Nader v Serody II

Fees if petition is invalidated?

Ohio

June 5, 2006

Lawrence v Blackwell

Independent petition deadline

Oregon

May 23, 2005

Kucera v Bradbury

Validity of signatures

Texas

March 21, 2005

Nader v Connor

Independent petition deadline, no. of signatures

Pennsy.

Jan. 10, 2005

Nader v Serody I

Validity of signatures

Calif.

Nov. 29, 2004

Baum v Arntz

Validity of write-in votes with box unchecked

Ohio

Oct. 26, 2004

Blankenship v Blackwell

Out-of-state circulators

Pennsy.

Oct. 4, 2004

Zulick v Wise

Fusion permitted for some parties & not others

Calif.

Jan. 12, 2004

Van Susteren v Shelley

Who can get on primary ballot

Georgia

March 10, 2003

Cartwright v Barnes

Number of signatures for US House

Arizona

Dec. 16, 2002

Browne v Bayless

Independent petition deadline

Ohio

Oct. 7, 2002

Nader v Blackwell

Partisan label for candidate using indp. procedure

Illinois

Mar. 18, 2002

Tobin for Governor v State Bd Elec.

Personal liability of elections officials

Ohio

Oct. 1, 2001

Schrader v Blackwell

Partisan label for candidate using indp. procedure

Virginia

May 14, 2001

Wood v Quinn

Independent petition deadline

Mich.

Oct. 9, 2000

Buchanan v Miller

Identity of Reform Party presidential nominee

So. Dak.

Oct. 2, 2000

Nader v Hazeltine

Independent petition deadline

PuertoR

Oct. 2, 2000

Partido Civil Action v Puerto Rico

Who can circulate petition

Idaho

Sep. 28, 2000

Nader v Cenarrusa

Number of signatures

Ohio

Oct. 5, 1998

Miller v Lorain Co. Elec. Board

Number of signatures

Florida

Oct. 6, 1997

Libertarian Party v Smith

Amount of filing fee

Illinois

Oct. 6, 1997

Libertarian Party v Rednour

Number of signatures for U.S. House

No. Car.

March 25, 1996

McLaughlin v N.C. Bd of Elections

Number of votes to stay on

Okla.

Oct. 2, 1995

COFOE v McElderry

Write-ins required when ballot access is tough

Ark.

Feb. 21, 1995

Langguth v McKuen

Independent petition deadline

Kansas

Jan. 23, 1995

Hagelin v Graves

Independent petition deadline

Maine

Oct. 12, 1993

Libertarian Party v Diamond

Number of signatures for primary candidates

Illinois

June 21, 1993

Reed v Kusper

Must party run a full slate of candidates

Calif.

Feb. 22, 1993

Lightfoot v Eu

Can party fill vacancies after primary over

Calif.

Sep. 24, 1992

Natural Law Party v Eu

Independent petition deadline

Wisc.

June 22, 1992

Swamp v Kennedy

May two parties jointly nominate one candidate

Colo.

Apr. 20, 1992

Libertarian Party v Sec. of State

Can party choose member of another party

Mo.

Oct. 2, 1989

Manifold v Blunt

Deadline for presidential electors

Md.

June 12, 1989

Ahmad v Raynor

Number of signatures

Illinois

Jan. 17, 1989

Citizens for John Moore Party v Bd.

Who can circulate a petition

Virginia

Feb. 24, 1986

Libertarian Party v Davis

Distribution requirement for statewide petition

Florida

Jan. 13, 1986

Geison v Firestone

Number of signatures

Indiana

Dec. 2, 1985

Hall v Simcox

Number of signatures

La.

Oct. 1, 1984

Libertarian Party v Brown

Number of registrations to be a party

Florida

Oct. 1, 1984

Libertarian Party v State

Number of signatures

Okla.

May 2, 1983

Arutunoff v State Election Bd.

Number of votes to remain on

Md.

Oct. 13, 1981

Mathers v Morris

Party label

Georgia

Oct. 5, 1981

McCreary v Poythress

Number of signatures

Florida

Nov. 10, 1980

Wilson v Firestone

Number of signatures

W. Va.

Oct. 6, 1980

Citizens Party v Manchin

Primary screenout



TWO STATES TELL MAJOR PARTIES TO HOLD EARLIER CONVENTIONS

Two states have passed bills that will limit the ability of any political party to hold a national presidential convention later than August. The Wyoming bill, HB 76, signed into law on February 23, says that if any qualified party fails to certify the names of its presidential and vice-presidential nominees by 60 days before the general election, the state won't print their names on the ballot.

The Virginia legislature passed SB 1155 on February 24. It requires qualified parties to certify their presidential and vice-presidential nominees by 74 days before the general election.

By contrast to these bills, a Texas bill, HB 1193, would eliminate the requirement that parties certify their nominees by 70 days before the election. The law was ignored in 2008.


PROGRESSIVE PARTY RE-ELECTS MAYOR OF BURLINGTON

The voters of Burlington, Vermont, re-elected Progressive Party Mayor Bob Kiss on March 3. This was the second Mayoral election at which Burlington had used Instant Runoff Voting. Both this recent election, and the 2006 election, seemed to show that the Progressive Party would not have won if an ordinary election system had been used. However, it is always difficult to know what would have happened for sure when thinking about hypotheticals.

In the 2009 election, five candidates were on the ballot. Besides Kiss, they were the nominees of the Democratic, Republican and Green Parties, and an independent candidate who raised more campaign contributions than anyone else running. After the first and second choice votes were counted, the Republican nominee was ahead. But in the third round, after the Democrat had been eliminated, Kiss had a majority. To see the election returns, see www.burlingtonvotes.org/20090303.


SPECTER PONDERS INDEPENDENT RUN

U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) is up to re-election in 2010. According to The Hill of March 17, he is mulling over the idea of running as an independent, since he fears possible defeat in the 2010 Republican primary.


MISSOURI POLICE REPORT SEEMS TO SLUR RON PAUL SUPPORTERS

On February 20, the Statistical Analysis Center of the Missouri State Highway Patrol released "The Modern Militia Movement", which seems to suggest that dangerous and possibly illegal activity is correlated with support for Ron Paul, or for 2008 presidential nominees Bob Barr of the Libertarian Party and Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party. The report received no attention until mid-March, when the Associated Press publicized it. The report was not meant for public dissemination, but on the other hand it was not classified.


MARYLAND HAS AN INDEPENDENT STATE LEGISLATOR

Maryland Delegate Richard Weldon, who has been in the legislature since 2002, changed his registration from "Republican" to "Independent" in September 2008. He was re-elected as a Republican in 2006, to a four-year term. He says he won't run for re-election in 2010. He is the first Maryland legislator who is not either a Republican or a Democrat since 1934.


BLOOMBERG AND REPUBLICANS

New York city Mayor Mike Bloomberg was elected in 2001, and re-elected in 2005, with the nomination of both the Republican Party and the Independence Party. At the time he was a registered Republican, but he changed his registration to "independent" in 2007. As he prepares to run for his third term this year, he is apparently persuading the Republican Party to let him run in its primary. Since he is a registered independent, he may not run in any party's primary unless the leaders of that party permit him to do so. Last year Republican leaders had been saying they would not let him into their primary. But on March 4, the Brooklyn Republican Party, which had been hostile to him, voted to let him run. He is likely to receive similar support in at least two other boroughs, which would be enough.


PRESIDENTIAL VOTE STILL CHANGING

The sources that report the final, official presidential vote are not in print yet. They are America Votes, Statistics of the Presidential & Congressional Election, always published by the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Federal Election Commission's book of election returns. It is fortunate that these books have not yet gone to press. New York state revised its presidential vote totals in mid-March, having found almost 50,000 votes from Queens that had been omitted from the first official returns. Also, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania are both about to be sued by various minor parties for having refused to tally write-in votes for president.


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