Home General Minor Party/Independent Candidate Constitutional Lawsuits Pending in 21 States
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Minor Party/Independent Candidate Constitutional Lawsuits Pending in 21 States

Published on June 12, 2010, by in General.

Minor parties or independent candidates have constitutional lawsuits pending in at least 21 states:

1. Arkansas, where the Green Party is challenging the state’s definition of “qualified party”.
2. California, where the Libertarian Party is challenging residency requirements for petition circulators.
3. Colorado, where two independent candidates are challenging the deadline for an independent to have left membership in a political party (the legislature fixed this problem this year but didn’t make it effective until after the 2010 election, so the case is not moot because the candidates want to run in 2010).
4. Connecticut, where the Green and Libertarian Parties are awaiting a decision of the 2nd circuit in the case against discriminatory public funding for candidates.
5. District of Columbia, where the Libertarian Party is waiting for a decision on whether the Board of Elections should count write-ins cast for Bob Barr in 2008.
6. Georgia, where an independent candidate, Faye Coffield, challenges the number of signatures for to run for U.S. House. Her rehearing request in the 11th circuit was filed April 9 and is still pending.
7. Hawaii, where Ralph Nader’s challenge to the number of signatures needed for an independent presidential candidate will be heard in the 9th circuit in Honolulu on June 17.
8. Kansas, where the Constitution Party is seeking to win the right to have voters register as members of the party, even though it is not ballot-qualified.
9. Massachusetts, where the Libertarian Party is in the 1st circuit over presidential stand-ins.
10. Montana, where an independent candidate for U.S. Senate is challenging the March petition deadline; the first brief in the 9th circuit was filed on June 11.
11. Nebraska, where an independent candidate and the Libertarian Party are both challenging the ban on out-of-state circulators.
12. New Hampshire, where the Libertarian Party is challenging the ban on presidential stand-ins, and the state’s refusal to allow unqualified parties control over which candidates can use the party’s label on the ballot.
13. New Jersey, where an independent candidate’s lawsuit over ballot format is dormant but still alive in state court.
14. New Mexico, where the Green Party is challenging the state’s definition of “political party”.
15. North Carolina, where the Green and Libertarian Parties are challenging many of the state’s ballot access laws in State Supreme Court, and where an independent candidate is challenging the number of signatures for an independent candidate for U.S. House.
16. Pennsylvania, where the Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties are challenging the state’s refusal to tally write-ins; the refusal of some counties to count any write-ins; the state’s 15% voter registration membership test to be automatically on the ballot;and the state’s policy of charging candidates huge court costs if their petitions are invalidated after being challenged.
17. South Carolina, where the Green Party is challenging the state law that says if a party nominates someone, and that person later tries to get another party’s nomination and fails, then the first nomination is voided.
18. South Dakota, where the Constitution Party is challenging the number of signatures needed to get a candidate on the party’s own primary ballot.
19. Utah, where an independent candidate is challenging the state’s refusal to recognize electronic signatures on petitions.
20. Virginia, where the Libertarian Party is challenging the residency requirement for circulators.
21. Washington, where the Libertarian Party, along with the two major parties, is challenging the state’s top-two election system.

Also pending is the case against the Post Office regulation that bans petitioning on interior post office sidewalks. This case is by far the oldest case on this list; it was filed over ten years ago and is still in U.S. District Court. And, two cases filed by referendum proponents are pending in Maryland over an interpretation of state law that says signatures are invalid if they aren’t exact matches to the signer’s name on the voter registration form.

10 Responses

  1. The fascinating thing about #18, as Richard has pointed out, is that if we are successful in the ACLU law suit, the establishment Democrats will be able to have their preferred Senatorial nominee on the ballot under the Working Families Party line. Then again, I suppose that the democratic Party county chair who sued to keep Eugene Platt off the ballot for signing a “loyalty oath” pledge would, of course, sue Rawl if he tried to do as Platt wanted to do, and appear as the nominee of the other party which nominated him…before the democrats rejected him.

    I guess that what goes around *does* come around, eh>?

  2. Demo Rep

    1. Separate is NOT equal — many of the cases.

    Brown v. Bd of Ed 1954

    i.e. EQUAL ballot access laws for ALL candidates for the same office.

    2. 14th Amdt, Sec. 2 *right to vote* — write-in cases.

    3. Every election is NEW and has ZERO to do with ANY prior election or other event — many of the cases.

    Election *LAW* [which AIN'T atomic physics] has been mystified and subverted by the party hack Supremes for many decades — result — the growing chaos in the lower courts.

  3. Jeff Becker

    I thought we lost the post office battle last year:

    From BAN April 2009:
    “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.”

    Hopefully I am just misinterpreting this. Just asking since I got kicked off of a sidewalk in front of a Post Office that is located in an outside strip mall yesterday in WV.

    BTW, I understand that the USPS is no longer federal and is now a private corporation. (Postal “Service” vs. Post “Office”) Is this correct? Implications?

  4. Richard

    The Massachusetts case was not about the postal regulation passed in 2000 that imposes a flat ban on petitioning on post office sidewalks. The Massachusetts case was about a much older postal regulation that bans “campaigning” on postal property.

    So that is two separate postal regulations, both of which inhibit petitioning. However, even with the strange interpretation that petitioning for a candidate is “campaigning”, that regulation would not affect petitions to put a new party on the ballot that don’t mention any particular candidate.

  5. Jeff Becker

    “that regulation would not affect petitions to put a new party on the ballot that don’t mention any particular candidate.”

    But a ballot access petition for a particular candidate, or set of candidates listed by name is thus “campaigning”, so we lost that? (yes, different from a ballot “measure”)

  6. Richard

    It was only lost in the First Circuit, which covers 4 New England states. I think it is a goofy opinion that wouldn’t be especially persuasive against us outside of the First Circuit.

  7. Jeff Becker

    So do you think I should go back there and stand my ground and get arrested so as to have basis for a new case… in the 4th Circuit? :) )

  8. Richard

    Jeff, I recommend that on Monday, you phone the attorney who has been handling the post office sidewalks case since 2000 and ask him your question. He is David Klein, 202-339-8629. His e-mail is dklein@orrick.com. It is possible your experience will be useful to him. He is fairly easy to reach.

  9. Tim

    There is a lawsuit in Maryland which affects third parties although I don’t believe any are a part of it. The Maryland Board of Elections changed their criteria for validating petition signitures from a common sense approach of whether they could reasonably make out the name to a literal interpretation of the law which requires full surname, one full given name and initials of all other names for both the printed and signed names.

    Validation rates have plummeted since they implemented this and several issues petitions have failed to make it onto the ballot. The Green Party and Libertarian Parties will be petitioning this year and we are concerned about the affect this will have on our efforts.

    A lawsuit has been brought to return to the common sense interpretation.

  10. How is it that a “federal judge” would determine “that Hispanics were being treated unfairly” and allow them “to flip the lever six times for one (presumably Democrat or Republican Party) candidate”, while Minor Party and Independent Candidate Constitutional Lawsuits are Pending in 21 States just to obtain ballot access?

    See the Associated Press article: Residents get 6 votes each in suburban NY election at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100615/ap_on_el_st_lo/us_voting_rights_election

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