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California Appeals Court Says Candidate in Southern California Special Election May File Amicus in Field v Bowen

Published on January 31, 2011, by in General.

Field v Bowen is the lawsuit pending in the California Court of Appeals over two particular aspects of Proposition 14 and its implementing legislation. The case challenges the policy that says candidates who are members of qualified parties may have a party label on the ballot, but candidates who are members of unqualified parties may not. On January 31, the California Court of Appeals said that Michael Chamness may not intervene in the case, but the Court invited him to submit an amicus curiae brief, which he will do and which will contain the same information that would have been in his briefs if he had intervened.

Michael Chamness is registered in the Coffee Party, and he is on the ballot in the upcoming special election for State Senate in the 28th district. The ballot will say “no party preference” next to his name, even though Chamness wants “My party preference is the Coffee Party.”

13 Responses

  1. Jim Riley

    Why is the case styled Mona Field et al. v. Sandra Bowen et al?

  2. Allen

    Is the Coffee Party an official political Party?

  3. Demo Rep

    Any one person EGO Parties in CA ???

    3 Musketeers Party ???

    3 Stooges Party ???

    etc.

    ALL A to Z parties 24/7 ???

    See the House of Commons elections in the U.K. — about 80 parties in the 2010 election.

    See the earlier posting about the LEGAL text of Prop 14 regarding parties.

    NO mention of large or small, old or new parties.

  4. Jim Riley

    When you say that, “Michael Chamness is registered in the Coffee Party”, I presume you mean that he sometime in 2010 filed a new voter affidavit, and under terms of Elections Code 2151(a) declared his intent to affiliate with the Coffee Party at the ensuing primary, and that he signed the affidavit, subject to charges of perjury, certifying that the information was truthful and correct.

    Do Dean Logan or Debra Bowen have any reason to presume that Chamness does not intend to affiliate with the Coffee Party at the February 2012 presidential primary?

    Then under terms of Elections Code 2151(a) they should have filed “Coffee Party” in the index.

    On January 1, 2011, under the transitional terms of 2151(d), his affiliation would have been recast as a disclosure of a political party preference for the Coffee Party.

    (For purposes of the SD 28 primary, January 1, 2011 came early).

    Under Elections Code 300.5, Michael Chamness as a candidate for a voter-nominated office, is affiliated with the Coffee Party, the party preference that he disclosed on his affidavit of registration.

    When Michael Chamness filed his declaration of candidacy under terms of Elections Code 8002.5, he had the option of having his preference for the Coffee Party appear on the ballot, or to have nothing appear on the ballot.

    What did he state on his (sworn) declaration of candidacy?

    If he said that he wanted “My Party Preference is the Coffee Party” preference to appear on the ballot, then Dean Logan and Debra Bowen had no choice but to comply.

    Michael Chamness’s real grievance is that Dean Logal and Debra Bowen are not complying with the law, not that there is something wrong with the law.

  5. Jim Riley

    #2 In California, voters are required to sign their voter affidavit, thereby certifying that the information on the affidavit is truthful and correct. There is no legal basis to presume that Michael Chamness does not intend to affiliate with the Coffee Party at the 2012 presidential primary.

    Under California law, voters may register with a party prior to any official notification of the official organization of the party. There is no time-limit on how early this affiliation may occur. Whenever a party does decide to qualify, they notify the Secretary of State, who orders the county registrars to count the number of voters who previously affiliated with party (before California was even legally aware of the party). In some cases, these parties have only a handful of registrants, in other cases there could be 1000s.

    If there are enough registered voters (I think the deadline is in September 2011) there will be a Coffee Party presidential preference primary in February 2012.

  6. Allen

    #5 Thanks, but if it takes somewhere around 100,000 registered voters to qualify for a new political party, and the Coffee party is not qualified why should they list his party, or can single candidates file, collect signatures or whatever to have their preference party listed?

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  8. Richard Winger

    #6, the reason they should list his party is that the purpose of putting “My party preference is…” on California ballots is to show the state of mind of the candidate. Unlike the past, it does not mean that the party approves of the person. It does not mean the party has chosen the person. The only function is to let the candidate express himself or herself. The Constitution requires equal treatment, and does not permit the state to let some candidates express themselves, while at the same time deying this ability to other candidates. This is especially true in California, where earlier decisions have struck down laws that gave some candidates a preferred spot on the ballot, or gave some candidates the ability to say they are incumbents while denying any ballot label to non-incumbents. And the US Supreme Court itself said in Cook v Gralike that states cannot “favor or disfavor a class of candidates”, relative to labels on the ballot.

  9. Demo Rep

    How many New Age party hack robot Donkey/Elephant candidates in marginal gerrymander districts identify/express themselves with their party hack label — in TV attack ads, yard signs, etc. ???

    But they both claim to be fighting for you.

  10. Mark Seidenberg

    Jim Riley,

    I believe it is September 2, 2011 for the Sepember, 2011
    date.

    Sincerely, Mark Seidenberg
    Vice Chairman, American Independent Party.

  11. Jim Riley

    #6 Allen: “Why should they list his party?”

    (1) It is required by California law.
    (2) It is required by the California constitution.
    (3) It is required by the US Constitution.

    California requires candidates for the senate to secure 40 signatures and pay a filing fee of $950 (or collect 1500 signatures in lieu of the filing fee, or a combination of a portion of the filing fee and in lieu signatures).

    Any candidate who satisfies those requirements in a timely fashion, and is otherwise qualified to be a senator in the district has his name placed on the primary ballot. In addition to his name, he may have his political office/profession/occupation appear, and under Proposition 14, his political party preference.

    The only state interest is that these three be accurate. For example, California requires that any name changes in the year prior to an election be the result of either a (1) marriage; or (2) a court decree. California requires verifiable evidence of the accuracy of the occupational designation.

    California could establish a procedure by which political parties are recognized, to be sure that they have characteristics that one would expect in a “political party” such as bylaws, and officers, and member participation. But instead they have chosen a system of disclosure. A candidate must have disclosed his political party preference on his voter registration prior to his candidacy. In addition, a 10-year record of party affiliation is supposed to be made available on the Secretary of State’s web site.

    California may not play favorites, and regulate on the basis of membership size, beyond a minimal amount necessary to be functional as a party. That would be no different than saying a medical doctor could have his profession listed, while a chiropractor could not, or candidates whose name ended in ‘z’, or a vowel, or started with ‘Mc’, or ‘O”, could not have their name on the ballot.

    Prior to Proposition 14, California had what has been characterized as a “qualified party” scheme, but would better be understood as a “restricted participation” scheme, where participation in the election was restricted based on whether a party had qualified to participate. California still retains this restricted participation scheme for presidential primaries.

    Under the restricted participation scheme, qualified parties nominated candidates in primaries. Voters had to declare in advance their intent to participate in a primary, and they were restricted to only voting for the nomination of candidates of their party. Candidates could only appear on the primary ballot of their own party, though they could seek nomination as a write-in candidate. Candidates not affiliated with a qualified party, that is, those who who had either (1) Declined To State an affiliation; or (2) Stated an affiliation with a non-qualified party, could secure a nomination independent of the political parties, by gathering a large number of signatures.

    The party designation on the ballot was not necessarily that of the candidate, but rather that of the nominating party, or of an independent body of electors acting outside the auspices of any political party.

    Since 1913, California has permitted voters to register with a non-qualified party. That is the main way for a non-qualified party to become a qualified party. Voters would declare their intent to affiliate with the party at the next primary, and if a sufficient number did so, the party would become qualified, and the voters would be able to fulfill their intent. Voters could remain affiliated with a non-qualified party indefinitely, since the only way for it to be changed was for the voter to change it, or the registration to lapse.

    Proposition 14 and its implementing laws explicitly converted existing party affiliations to a “preference for a political party”. Voters who had previously Declined To State a party affiliation were converted to No Party Preference.

    The implementing laws defined the political party preference of a candidate to be that he had disclosed on his or her voter registration affidavit. Candidates had the option to not have their party preference appear on the ballot, just as they have the option to not have an occupation designation appear on the ballot.

    In summary:

    California law prior to Proposition 14 permitted a voter to affiliate with a non-qualified party on his voter registration. It was the intent of the People in approving Proposition 14 that existing registrations be converted to preferences for a political party. SB 6 does precisely that.

    The California Constitution says that NO distinction may be made on the basis of political party preference with regard to candidates or voters for a voter-nominated office. That is, candidates who prefer qualified parties, and candidates who prefer non-qualified parties, and candidates who have not disclosed a preference have equal status in having their party preference appear on the ballot.

  12. Demo Rep

    # 11 How about a mile long listing in 2 columns of the CA constitution and laws before Prop 14 and after Prop 14 — with each word gone over with about 1,000 words of explanation ???

    Heaven help the U.S.A. in making ANY election law *reform*.

  13. Well this sucks all people who wish to run for office should be able to do so under any label they choose too
    we are the national write in party and im a 2012 presidential candidate you can join us by visiting
    http://www.nationalwriteinparty.yolasite.com

    or on facebook at
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Nwip-National-Write-In-Party-Established-in-2010/142259642501762

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