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March Ballot Access News Print Edition

Published on April 4, 2011, by in General.

Ballot Access News
March 1, 2011 – Volume 26, Number 10


This issue was originally printed on blue paper.



Table of Contents

  1. BALLOT ACCESS BILLS ADVANCE IN ARIZONA, NEBRASKA, NEW MEXICO, OKLAHOMA
  2. PROCEDURAL VICTORY IN VERMONT BALLOT ACCESS CASE
  3. SUPREME COURT SHOWS INTEREST IN BALLOT ACCESS CASE
  4. NEW CALIFORNIA LAWSUIT ON PROP. 14
  5. ELECTORAL COLLEGE BILLS
  6. FIRST CIRCUIT RULES PARTIES CANNOT PROTECT THEIR NAMES
  7. PROCEDURAL VICTORY IN VOTE-COUNT CASE
  8. RHODE ISLAND PUBLIC FUNDING DECISION
  9. BOOK REVIEW: THE ELECTION
  10. BOOK REVIEW: THE PINNACLE SEVEN
  11. MORE BALLOT ACCESS BILLS INTRODUCED
  12. 2010 VOTE FOR STATE SENATE
  13. BRITISH CAMPAIGN BEGINS TO PASS INSTANT-RUNOFF VOTING
  14. FORMER CONGRESSMAN VIRGIL GOODE GETS CLOSER TO CONSTITUTION PARTY
  15. NADER TORT LAWSUIT AGAINST DEMOCRATIC PARTY
  16. EGYPTIAN BALLOT ACCESS LIKELY TO BE IMPROVED
  17. SCHUYKILL COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, OFFICIAL BECOMES AN INDEPENDENT
  18. PARTY CHANGES NAME
  19. ERRATA
  20. SUBSCRIBING TO BAN WITH PAYPAL

BALLOT ACCESS BILLS ADVANCE IN ARIZONA, NEBRASKA, NEW MEXICO, OKLAHOMA

Arizona: on February 21, the Arizona House Rules Committee passed HB 2304. This is the Secretary of State’s election law bill, and, at the request of the Green Party, it includes several ballot access improvements.

The bill says that when a party qualifies by petition, it is automatically ballot-qualified for the next two elections. If this bill becomes law, the Green Party will be on the 2012 ballot automatically, since it successfully petitioned in 2010. Other states that say that when a party qualifies by petition, it is automatically on the ballot for two elections (even if it doesn’t poll enough votes in its first election to meet the retention test), are Maryland, Minnesota, and New Mexico. Also, South Dakota and Wisconsin apply this rule for parties that qualify in presidential years, and North Carolina applies it to parties that qualify in mid-term years.

The Arizona test for remaining on the ballot are stringent. Parties must either poll 5% of the vote for the office at the top of the ticket (President or Governor) or they must keep registration membership of about 20,000 members. The Libertarian Party manages to keep its registration to that level, and therefore always remains qualified, but the Green Party has never had its registration nearly that high, and therefore always gets dumped off the ballot after each election.

Another improvement in the bill legalizes out-of-state petitioners for all types of petition. Currently, the state says out-of-staters can circulate for an independent presidential candidate, but they can’t work on any other type of petition.

And, the bill lowers the number of signatures for a member of a newly-qualifying party to get on the primary ballot of his or her own party.

Nebraska: on February 22, the legislature passed LB 399 on second reading. It eases the statewide independent petition. Those petitions (except for President) now need 4,000 signatures, with at least 50 signatures from each of 30 counties. Since that distribution requirement was created in 2007, no statewide independents have managed to qualify. The bill deletes the county distribution requirement, and instead says a statewide independent needs 4,000 signatures, with at least 750 from each of the three U.S. House districts.

New Mexico: on February 18, the Senate Rules Committee passed SB 403, which makes these improvements: (1) it lowers the number of signatures needed for a newly-qualifying party in midterm years, from one-half of 1% of the last Presidential vote, to one-half of 1% of the last midterm vote. Because all states always have between 30% and 40% more voters in Presidential years than in midterm years, this reduces the number of signtures.

Also the bill eases the independent candidate petition deadline from the first week in June, to the last week in June. And, it says the petition to
create a new party must be available any time. Even though the existing law has never told a group that it can’t circulate a petition to qualify itself any time it wishes, past Secretaries of State have sometimes refused to release the blank petition forms during the first nine months of odd years. These improvements are in the bill due to lobbying by a member of the Green Party.

Oklahoma: on February 17, the House Rules Committee passed HB 1058, which lowers the number of signatures to qualify a party from 5% of the last vote cast (51,739 signatures) to exactly 22,500 signatures.

The existing law is so severe, no group has qualified as a party in Oklahoma since 2000, when the Libertarian Party and the Reform Party each managed to qualify. Because Oklahoma’s requirement for independent presidential candidates is also very severe, no one has used it since 1992. Only Democrats and Republicans have been on the Oklahoma ballot for President in 2004 and 2008, and the state even bans write-ins.


PROCEDURAL VICTORY IN VERMONT BALLOT ACCESS CASE

On February 22, a state court in Vermont refused the state’s request to dismiss a case filed last year against the early petition deadline. Trudell v State, 612-8-10-wn-cv.

Last year, the legislature moved the independent candidate deadline from September to June. An independent candidate for U.S. House, Jerry Trudell, missed the ballot because of that deadline, and sued to overturn it. Vermont holds primaries in August.

The decision says that a trial will be needed to settle the law’s constitutionality. But the decision suggests that the state will probably not prevail. The judge wrote, "It appears unlikely that the preparation of the ballot is made any easier by the new deadline. Ballots cannot be printed until after the primary results are known."

The decision also says that perhaps the state changed the deadline to stop "sore losers", but asks if there might be a less drastic way to accomplish that goal. And, of course, there is; the state can simply say no one who ran in a primary and lost may qualify as an independent candidate. The trial will probably be in June.


SUPREME COURT SHOWS INTEREST IN BALLOT ACCESS CASE

The U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t accepted a ballot access case brought by a minor party or independent candidate since 1991, when it heard an Illinois case and ruled against the state. However, the Court has recently shown that it is thinking about taking Ralph Nader’s ballot access case from Hawaii. On January 31, the Court asked Hawaii to respond to Nader’s cert petition. This probably means that there is a 25% chance the Court will hear the case. Hawaii’s response is due March 4, and the Court will then decide whether to accept the case.

Nader sued Hawaii in 2004, after Hawaii rejected Nader’s independent presidential petition. Nader had submitted twice as many signatures as were required. Hawaii has very stringent petition-checking procedures, and wants either the signer’s birthday, or the last four digits of the Social Security number, or the state won’t accept the signature. Also if the voter has bad handwriting, the state will not make much of an effort to read the handwriting. Nader needed 3,711 signatures, which was 1% of the last presidential vote cast, and the state said he didn’t have enough valid signatures.

Nader challenged the state’s law, both on its petition-checking procedures, and also he challenged the law on the basis that an entire new party only needed 677 valid signatures. In Hawaii, when a new party gets on the ballot, it is given its own primary, and its members can get on the primary ballot with only 15 or 25 signatures (depending on the office), and any registered voter can sign. It is therefore easy for a new party to "flood the ballot" with a nominee for every partisan office in the state, which makes a big impact on the number of candidates on the ballot.

Nader argued that it is irrational for the state to require six times as many signatures for a single independent presidential candidate, as it requires for an entire new party.

The U.S. District Court and the 9th circuit rejected all of Nader’s arguments, so he asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, on the point about the irrationality of the number of signatures required. No independent presidential petition has succeeded in Hawaii since 2000.

In 2008, when Nader was again an independent candidate, he created the "Independent Party" in Hawaii in 2008, so as to get on the ballot with a much lower number of signatures. That worked, but doesn’t excuse the state’s irrational law. In 1974 the U.S. Supreme Court had said that states must have constitutional procedures for both independent candiates, and new parties. One set of procedures can’t substitute for the other.


NEW CALIFORNIA LAWSUIT ON PROP. 14

On February 17, a new lawsuit was filed against one particular aspect of California’s new "top-two" election system, passed by the voters in June 2010 as Proposition 14. The new lawsuit is filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, and challenges the law’s discriminatory policy on ballot labels.

The law, as interpreted by the Secretary of State, says candidates who are not members of a qualified party can only have this ballot label: "no party preference." However, candidates who are members of a qualified party can have either their party name on the ballot, or may have "no party preference."

The candidate-plaintiff is Michael Chamness, a registered member of the Coffee Party, which is not ballot-qualified. Chamness ran in the special State Senate election in western Los Angeles County on February 15, and he intends to run in the special U.S. House election, whenever the 36th district becomes vacant. The incumbent, Jane Harman, is expected to retire February 28.

Washington state also uses a top-two system, and Washington state lets a candidate choose any label that is not obscene and is not too long.

California’s top-two implementing language was passed in the middle of the night in February 2009, and the bill had no hearings. It was rushed through the legislature in order to get the sponsor’s vote to pass the budget. Most legislators who voted for the top-two system did not approve of it.

Probably if the proponents had taken more time to write their bill, the bill would have provided that all candidates be treated alike, for purposes of choosing a label. The label inequality, if found to be constitutional, could threaten the very existence of the top-two system in California. The part of the system that is now in the California Constitution says the legislature shall pass a law regulating party labels. If the law regulating party labels is unconstitutional, and if the legislature won’t pass a new law to replace it, then perhaps the entire system cannot be implemented.

The new federal case is called Chamness v Bowen, 2:11-cv-1479. It has a hearing on March 21 in front of U.S. District Court Judge Otis D. Wright, a Bush Jr. appointee.


ELECTORAL COLLEGE BILLS

Many bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year to revise the Electoral College system. Currently, two states let each U.S. House district choose its own elector, Maine and Nebraska. A bill in Nebraska to return to the at-large system used by 48 states, LD 21, is expected to pass.

Bills to provide for the National Popular Vote Plan passed in previous years in six states and the District of Columbia, and are expected to pass this year in Vermont, Rhode Island, California, and perhaps other states. The Vermont Senate passed the bill on February 23. The bills set up a compact between the states that only goes into effect after states containing a majority of the Electoral College have passed the plan. Once the plan goes into effect, the states that had joined the compact would choose presidential electors pledged to the presidential candidate who got the most popular votes in the nation.


FIRST CIRCUIT RULES PARTIES CANNOT PROTECT THEIR NAMES

On February 24, the First Circuit ruled that nothing in the Constitution protects the ability of political parties to protect their party label from being used by candidates who are not the nominees of that party. The case is Libertarian Party of New Hampshire v Gardner, 10-1360. The decision was by Judge Sandra Lynch, a Clinton appointee, and co-signed by Judges Bruce Selya, a Reagan appointee, and Jeffrey Howard, a Bush Jr. appointee and a former Attorney General of New Hampshire.

In 2008, the New Hampshire general election ballot carried two presidential candidates, each with the label "Libertarian". They were Bob Barr, who was the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire’s presidential nominee (of course, he was also the Libertarian Party’s national convention nominee); and George Phillies, who tried to get the national nomination, but placed fifth in the convention’s third ballot, behind Bob Barr, Mary Ruwart, Wayne Allyn Root, and former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel.

Some supporters of Phillies successfully placed his name on the ballot by obtaining 3,000 valid signatures. Barr qualified the same way. Both appeared in the "Independent" column with "Libertarian" next to their names. The First Circuit opinion includes a copy of the ballot, at the back, marked as an Appendix.

The First Circuit said that the Democratic and Republican Parties don’t enjoy name protection either, and that it is legal in New Hampshire for someone to use the independent petition procedure and appear on the November ballot with "Democrat" or "Republican" next to his or her name. This is true for anyone, whether they are registered in those parties or not. The only restriction is that someone who ran in a major party primary and lost cannot appear on the November ballot at all. In reality, it does not appear that anyone has ever used the independent procedure to get on the ballot and use a major party label.

The First Circuit did not even mention two federal precedents that do recognize that parties have a right to protect their ballot labels from being used by candidates who are not nominees of the party. One decision is Curry v Kennelly, a U.S. District Court decision that said independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson was entitled to block the use of his ballot label, "Anderson Coalition" by any other candidates in Connecticut. The other is Baer v Meyer, a 10th circuit decision from Colorado won in 1984 by the Libertarian and Citizens Parties. The First Circuit decision also does not mention the U.S. Supreme Court decision California Democratic Party v Jones, which has language supporting name protection for political parties.

The First Circuit also believed an affidavit signed by David Scanlan, Deputy Secretary of State, who said that if the party had submitted a party petition, the party would have been given its own party column. That would have helped the problem, because if the party had its own party column, Barr would have been listed in that party column. Even though Phillies would have been on the ballot as a Libertarian, Phillies would have been in the independent column, which would have at least hinted to voters that Barr was the nominee.

However, the only time any group ever did the party petition in New Hampshire was in 2000. That year, the Libertarian Party did that petition, but it still wasn’t given a party column! The party’s rebuttal brief had pointed that out, but the First Circuit ignored it, and claimed there were no disputed issues of fact in the case, and therefore it was appropriate for the lower court to have settled the case without any trial or even any oral argument. The First Circuit also did not permit an oral argument.

The party has 90 days to decide whether to ask for U.S. Supreme Court review. The First Circuit appears prejudiced against minor parties. A few months ago it became the first court to deny parties the ability to use a stand-in presidential candidate on a petition.


PROCEDURAL VICTORY IN VOTE-COUNT CASE

On February 10, U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff denied New York state’s request to dismiss the case Conservative Party and Working Families Party v New York State Board of Elections, s.d, 10cv-6923.

New York permits two or more parties to jointly nominate the same candidate. Also, New York generally lists the candidate multiple times on the ballot, once under each party label. A problem arises when a voter votes for the same candidate twice, once under each party label. New York resolves this by crediting that vote to the party that appears closest to the top of the ballot. In virtually every case, this means the Republican Party or the Democratic Party gets the vote, and the other, smaller party that also nominated the candidate, doesn’t get that vote.

Now there will be a trial in this case. The case had been filed last year, but it was filed too late before the election to receive a decision. The Independence Party of New York city filed an amicus brief on the side of the other two minor parties. The minor parties want the vote-counting machines changed so that if a voter casts two votes for the same office, the machine sounds an alarm and the voter is notified that he or she over-voted, and may vote again.


RHODE ISLAND PUBLIC FUNDING DECISION

On February 11, U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith upheld Rhode Island’s law on public funding for parties. The law lets state income tax payers choose any qualified party for a voluntary donation. The law also lets a taxpayer choose to send $5 to the state’s general fund for all qualified parties. The money is distributed according to the share of the vote received by each party in the last gubernatorial election. The Moderate Party sued, saying that was not fair to new parties. However, the decision upholds the system. Moderate Party of Rhode Island v Lynch, 10-265.


BOOK REVIEW: THE ELECTION

The Election, a Novel, by Richard Warren Field. 486 pages, hardcover, published 1997 by Infortainment Publishing Co., available at Amazon.com.

This book, published 14 years ago, is the most enjoyable piece of fiction ever written about the Electoral College, although it is about far more than that. It is set in an indeterminate time in the future. A TV news anchorman decides to become an independent presidential candidate, on a platform stressing ecological/emergy issues and legalizing illegal drugs. The candidate is independently wealthy, and because of his many years in the news business, is famous. He polls well enough to appear on the debates, where he outshines the two major party nominees because of his depth of knowledge and also his experience as a television newsman.

Still, that isn’t enough to win. He places third in the popular vote, with 30% of the vote, to 37% for the Republican incumbent and 33% for the Democrat. However, because he carried eight states, he deprives anyone of a majority in the Electoral College, or so it seems at first. The Republican incumbent is only one vote shy of a majority. What happens next is a very engrossing story.

The technical details about the process of casting electoral votes, and counting them, seem accurate, except that it is not generally the case that when the electors meet in December, they then seal their votes and no one can know what they did until Congress counts the electoral votes in early January.


BOOK REVIEW: THE PINNACLE SEVEN

The Pinnacle Seven, by Jackie Richards. Paperback, 252 pages, published 2010 by iUniverse.

The subtitle of this novel is "A Political Mystery", but that is deceiving. This novel is a crime-detective novel involving a crime that has little to do with politics.

And, tacked on to that story is the almost incidental side-plot that the heroine comes in contact with some benevolent wealthy individuals who are working to create a new political party.

The novel is set in 2010. These individuals intend to create the Founders Party. The book says very little about the new party’s platform, other than that the party will only recruit candidates who will put the public interest in front of their own private interests. These individuals believe the best way to start a major new party is to run their best people as independent candidates in 2010, and after some of them have hopefully been elected, they will form the new party, which will attempt to run many more candiates in 2012.

It is rare for anyone to write a novel that sets forth ideas on how a major new political party might get started in the United States, so the novel may be of interest to some people for that reason alone.


MORE BALLOT ACCESS BILLS INTRODUCED

These bills to improve ballot access have been introduced during the last month (besides the bills mentioned on page one):

Connecticut: SB 778 would lower the number of signatures for statewide minor party and independent candidates to exactly 1,000 signatures. The existing law requires 7,500. The bill would also lower the number of signatures for U.S. House candidates to 1,000; currently they need 1% of the last vote cast, which is often as many as 3,000.

Illinois: on February 22, Representative Jim Watson (R-Jacksonville) introduced HB 2854, to eliminate mandatory petitions, both for candidates seeking a place on a primary ballot, and on a general election ballot. Instead they would pay a filing fee of 1% of the office’s annual salary. Illinois now has the nation’s second-toughest petition requirements for minor party candidates to get on the general election for U.S. House (after Georgia).

Hawaii: SB 205 would provide for write-in space on both primary and general election ballots. Currently, Hawaii is one of five states which bans all write-in votes.

Maine: Ben Chipman, the independent member of the House, has introduced LD 545, to make it easier for members of small q
ualified parties to get on their own party’s primary ballot. Current law requires 2,000 signatures for statewide office, and only party members can sign, so it is very difficult for small ballot-qualified parties to run candidates in their own primaries.

Maryland: SB 630 would relax the rule that says petition signatures are invalid if the signer’s name on the petition deviates from the form of the signer’s name on the voter registration record. In other words, middle initials, nicknames, and suffixes such as "Jr." would not need to match perfectly on both sets of records. The bill has a hearing on March 10.

North Carolina: HB 32 would lower the number of signatures to qualify a party, and also for a statewide independent candidate, from 2% of the last gubernatorial vote (now 85,379 signatures, the second-highest in the nation) to exactly 10,000.

Tennessee: SB 617 would lower the number of signatures to put a party on the ballot from 2.5% of the last gubernatorial vote (now 40,042 signatures) to exactly 2,500 signatures. It would also provide that newly-qualifying parties nominate by convention, not by primary. Tennessee must pass some bill on this subject because the ballot access law for new parties was declared unconstitutional last year.

West Virginia: SB 417 and HB 3248 would ease the definition of "political party" from a group that got 1% for Governor, to a group that got 1% for any statewide race.


2010 VOTE FOR STATE SENATE

The chart below shows the November 2010 vote for State Senate, for all minor parties and independent candidates.

~

Libertaran

Wk Fam

Constitn

Tea

Green

Ind Pty

oth(1)

oth(2)

independent

Alab.

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

23,800

Alas.

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~ ont>

2,662

Ariz.

23,219

~

~

~

784

~

~

~

~

Ark.

~

~

~

~

1,062

~

~

~

~

Cal.

64,164

~

11,871

~

~

~

10,209

~

~

Colo.

3,510

~

1,697

~

~

~

~

~

~

Conn.

699

23,291

~

~

1,812

3,803

~

~

~

Del

~

165

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

Fla.

~

~

~

26,148

~

~

~

~

79,638

Ga.

~

~

~<
/font>

~

~

~

~

~

~

Hi.

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

Ida.

~

~

1,363

~

~

~

~

~

3,780

Ill.

~

~

~

~

~

~

size="2">~

~

~

Ind.

9,245

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

Iowa

6,092

~

~

~

~

~

1,131

~

~

Ky.

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

18,610

Me.

~

~

~

~

3,208

~

~

~

10,823

Md.

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

Mass.

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

28,807

Mich.

29,838

~

1,618

~

4,487

~

~

~

16,297

Minn.

~

~

827

~

~

14,086

~

~

6,375

Mo.

23,559

~

12,201

~

~

~

~

~

6,512

Mont.

1,047

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

Nev.

1,001

~

10,579

~

~

~

e="2">~

~

~

N.H

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

N.Y.

~

150,258

~

10,850

2,991

151,334

266,537

5,980

6,796

No.C.

5,535

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

6,054

No.D.

~

~

~

~

ht=15>

~

~

~

~

464

Ohio

13,545

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

Okla.

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

Ore.

~

~

~

~

~

2,304

~

~

13,211

Pa.

18,351

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

28,119

R.I.

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

5,113

So.D.

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

14,195

Tenn.

~

~

~

~

align="right">~

~

~

~

~

Tex.

172,015

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

Utah

704

~

4,990

~

~

~

~

~

~

Vt.

~

~

~

~

~

~

620

866

10,572

Wa.

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

19,689

W.V.

2,843

~

~

~

3,628

~

~

~

~

Wis.

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

~

Wyo.

~

~

~

~

~ ont>

~

~

~

534

TOT.

375,367

173,714

45,146

36,998

17,972

171,527

278,497

6,846

302,051

Parties in the "Oth(1)" column are: Peace & Freedom (Ca.), Iowa Party (Ia.), Conservative (N.Y.), Socialist (Vt.).

Parties in the "Oth(2)" column are: Reform (N.Y.), Vermont Independence (Vt.).

In 2006, the State Senate totals were: Libertarian 392,724; Working Families 136,312; Constitution 124,396; Green 51,766; Reform 2,486; Independence Parties 213,604; Socialist Equality Party 2,190; other parties 184,893; independent candidates 152,151.

In the charts above, "Ind Party" means parties named either Independence or Independent. "Wk Fam" = Working Families. "Consti" = Constitution. For continuity, the American Independent Party is considered to be the California state unit of the Constitution Party, something that has been disputed in court since 2008. States not named had no partisan State Senate elections this year. See the February 1, 2011 BAN for similar charts for lower house of the legislature; and the January 1 issue for similar charts for each house of Congress, and for gubernatorial races.


BRITISH CAMPAIGN BEGINS TO PASS INSTANT-RUNOFF VOTING

Great Britain will vote on May 5, 2011, whether to use Instant-Runoff Voting for House of Commons elections. Opponents are already advertising. They are stressing that the referendum itself is costing the taxpayers 2.5 million pounds, and that voters should vote "No" to protest spending the money. That 2.5 million figure also includes the extra money that would be needed to count the votes under IRV, if the measure passes. Britain counts its votes by hand. Not everyone agrees that the figure is accurate.


FORMER CONGRESSMAN VIRGIL GOODE GETS CLOSER TO CONSTITUTION PARTY

Former Congressman Virgil Goode of Virginia has become closer to the Constitution Party over the last two years. He is a scheduled speaker at the party’s national committee meeting, April 28-30, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He had also spoken at a previous national committee meeting in 2009. On November 18, 2010, he had joined the party’s National Committee. Goode has been elected to Congress first as a Democrat, then as an independent (in 2000), and finally as a Republican. He was defeated for re-election by a Democrat in 2008. He was born in 1946 and his surname rhymes with "mood."


NADER TORT LAWSUIT AGAINST DEMOCRATIC PARTY

The Maine Supreme Court has set a briefing schedule in Nader v Maine Democratic Party, et al, the case Ralph Nader filed in 2009 against the Democratic National Committee, for what it did to his 2004 independent presidential campaign. Nader argues that the party filed meritless challenges to his nominating petitions, and engaged in dirty tricks against his circulators. Nader’s opening brief is due on April 8; the response is due May 27; and the rebuttal is due June 10. The main issue at this point is whether the lower court should have allowed a trial.


EGYPTIAN BALLOT ACCESS LIKELY TO BE IMPROVED

A committee appointed by the Egyptian military government to revise the Constitution has suggested that it wants to ease Egypt’s ballot access laws. Current law requires independent presidential candidates to submit 250 signatures, but the only people who can sign are members of Parliament or local government councils. The committee also wants easier ballot access for parties. The existing system requires them to gain approval by a committee controlled by the government. In practice, these rules have meant a virtual ballot monopoly for the governing party.


SCHUYKILL COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, OFFICIAL BECOMES AN INDEPENDENT

Recently, Melinda Kantner switched her registration from "Democrat" to "independent." She is the elected Controller of Schuykill County, Pennsylvania. She will run for re-election in November 2011 as an independent. She is the first countywide elected official in this county in approximately 100 years who is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. The county usually votes Republican.


PARTY CHANGES NAME

The New American Independent Party, headquartered in Pennsylvania, has changed its name to the Citizens Party. The party is three years old and has not yet been very active in running candidates.


ERRATA<
/font>

The February 1 B.A.N. correctly said that none of ballot-qualified Tea Party candidates in the November 2010 appear to have changed the outcome of any partisan election. But the B.A.N. item said there were 17 ballot-listed Tea Party candidates running, and that they were all in Florida, Nevada, and New Jersey. Actually there were 18 such candidates. There was also a State Senate candidate in New York with the ballot-label "Tea Party."


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