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Texas Democrats, Republicans, Ask U.S. District Court to Alter 2012 Ballot Access in Texas

Published on February 29, 2012, by in General.

On February 29, the Texas Republican Party and Texas Democratic Party submitted a joint proposal to the 3-judge U.S. District Court that is hearing the redistricting case. The two parties advocate these policies for minor party and independent candidate ballot access for 2012:

1. Petitions for newly-qualifying parties, and for independent candidates for President, and independent candidates for all other office, will be due June 29.

2. No primary screen-out will exist in 2012 for these petitions.

These ideas represent a huge improvement for ballot access, compared to the statutory law. Under the statutes, which will not be in effect in 2012, the independent presidential candidate petition deadline is May 14. Assuming the court adopts the proposed order, for the first time since 1984, every state will have some procedure for a non-Democratic, non-Republican presidential candidate to get on the ballot by a date later than June 3. The earliest deadline for president will be Colorado, which does not require a petition for independent presidential candidates, but which requires a $500 filing fee no later than June 4, 2012. The latest deadline, which is shared by half a dozen states, is September 7, 2012.

2012 will also be the first presidential election since 1908 in which no state has a primary screen-out for all methods to the general election ballot.

Thanks to Jim Riley for alerting me to the proposed order, and to Texas Redistricting Blog for a link to the order.

15 Responses

  1. […] Access News reports. This entry was posted in ballot access. Bookmark the permalink. ← Lessig: “I think […]

  2. Curt Boyd

    Any word on when petitions may be started?

  3. Demo Rep

    Shocking. The Donkeys and Elephants have ANY knowledge that 3rd parties and independents may exist in the Texas gerrymander regime.

  4. Demo Rep

    Since when can a Fed Court take over a sovereign State’s election code ???

    i.e. the Fed Court should, if necessary, keep declaring more and more of the Texas election code to be UN-constitutional — i.e. FORCE the robot party hacks in the gerrymander Texas legislature to pass LAWS for temporary fixes in 2012 — to give the appearance of Separation of Powers.

    SCOTUS awaits with more Bush v. Gore Hammers — even for lower Fed judges — as if the 20 Jan 2012 opinion was NOT enough warning to ALL of the MORONS involved.

  5. #2, I believe petitioning can start now. I think Americans Elect will start in 2 weeks or less.

  6. Jim Riley

    The proposed order was drafted by the Republican and Democratic parties, and are ambiguous about timing for convention-nominating parties and independent candidates. If I were advising a minor party or independent candidate, I would want the SOS to draft the portions applying to those parties and candidates. It reasonable to presume that the major parties are at best grossly indifferent to the fate of minor parties and independent candidates.

    The first question is where did the deadline of June 29 come from? Under current statute, new parties have 75 days after their precinct conventions to file their supplemental petitions.

    Last December, the SA Court set the primary date as April 3, and the county conventions to April 14 or 21 (date chosen by party). The precinct conventions for primary-nominating parties are the night of the primary, or through the following Sunday.

    These orders are still in force, except that yesterday the court ordered that the precinct conventions don’t have to be held. If the proposed order is adopted, the primary date will be moved to May 29. But the planning of the major parties is that the county conventions will be held April 14 or 21, just as they were ordered last December. They are making adjustments so that precinct conventions are not held, and the county conventions can be held before the primary. In particular, there are provisions to enforce the cross-affiliation restrictions, so that a voter who participates in a county convention of Party X, may not vote in the primary of Party Y (and certainly could be used to check the supplementary petition of Party Z.

    Section aa, which sets the deadline for minor-party supplementary petitions, says absolutely nothing about not enforcing the cross-affiliation provisions. You may have merged aa with bb.

    Under Texas law, the precinct convention date for convention-nominating parties is the 2nd Tuesday in March (March 13, 2012). There have been no court orders modifying this. Since this is the week after the primary date, the major parties may be under the misapprehension that it was changed last December.

    The deadline for the supplementary petitions in statute is 75 days after the precinct conventions. If the major parties though that the precinct conventions had been delayed a month, it would make sense to delay the deadline for the petition by a month.

    But if the precinct conventions are still March 13, there would be no reason to change the deadline. The filing deadline is adjusted to March 9. But there is no reason for a long period between the filing deadline and the convention where nominations are held. If a candidate for nomination withdraws, most minor parties open filing until just before the convention.

    So it is conceivable that the Democrats and Republicans believe that the precinct conventions won’t happen until mid-April. Otherwise there would be no reason to extend the filing period.

    Under statute, the filing deadline for independent candidates is 30 days after the runoff date, and petitioning may begin the day after the primary **unless** there is a contested runoff for the office being sought, in which case signature collection starts after the runoff. While a candidate might have about 105 days to collect signatures, this may be compressed to 30 days.

    But with the delayed primary and runoff, this could cause the general election to be delayed, So the simple solution is to eliminate the possibility of the runoff delaying signature gathering.

    If you read section bb carefully, EC 142.006 and 192.032(c) set the deadline for filing signatures which is modified to June 29, 2012, which happens to be 30 days after the primary. It does not modify the starting date for collection of signatures.

    EC 142.009 is the primary screen out provision for independent candidates other than president. The primary screen out for independent presidential candidates is 192.032(g). There are other difference in statute between independent candidates for president and for other offices. Presidential candidates don’t need to pre-file their intent to run (they may be subject to campaign finance reporting), and the deadlines for filing signatures are different.

    The proposed order says that the provisions of 142.009 are waived to the extent they are incompatible with the rest of the proposed order.

    I have bolded the portions that I believe are compatible with the proposed order.

    Sec. 142.009. PETITION TO BE CIRCULATED AFTER PRIMARY. A signature on a candidate’s petition is invalid if the signer:

    (1) signed the petition on or before general primary election day or, if a runoff primary is held for the office sought by the candidate, on or before runoff primary election day; or

    (2) voted in the general or runoff primary election of a political party that made a nomination, at either primary, for the office sought by the candidate.

    That is, the only problem with moving the deadline forward, is that it would be before the runoff. But there is no basis for a supposition that the starting date for collection of signatures has changed from the date after the primary, simply because the primary date has changed; and no reason to believe that the primary screen out has been removed, particularly since the primary screen out for independent presidential candidates was not modified.

  7. Andy

    Wow, it’s nice that they aren’t going to have to deal with the primary screen out. It sure would have been nice if I hadn’t had to deal with that when I petitioned in Texas for the Libertarian Party.

  8. Richard Winger

    #6, maybe the Texas major parties are thinking about Anderson v Celebrezze, which has been interpreted by courts all across the nation to invalidate petition deadlines (involving presidential elections) that were earlier than July. Such precedents exist in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming. Nader v Connor is the only exception, but that was a case in which the court rejected the idea that independent presidential candidate petitions must be as late as minor party petitions, and did not compare independent presidential petition deadlines to independent candidate petitions for other office.

  9. Brad M

    More fun here in Texas. And the major parties causing logistical upheaval for themselves with their convention planning.

    I hope they take a $$$ bath. Especially since us independent/non-affiliated voters are paying for their primaries.

    Why doesn’t the state pay for independent and minor parties’ ballot access petitions?

  10. Jim Riley

    #8 Had they done nothing, the deadline for independent non-presidential candidates would have moved to August 30; which is after the deadline for write-in candidates for the general election, and the signatures still need to be validated.

    So it appears that they were mostly concerned about a delay in the general election, so they shortened the signature collection period. What you interpreted as a removal of the primary screen out, is really just to say that signatures can be collected before a possible runoff.

    And of course they had to do something about independent presidential candidates, so why not just use the same 30-day collection period?

    You really think the Texas major parties were thinking about Anderson and Celebrezze?

  11. Jim Riley

    #7 Not true. For political parties, there is a cross-affiliation restriction. You can only affiliate with one political party in a voting year. The order doesn’t change that at all. The only difference is that you might be able to talk some voters into affiliating with a minor party first, so they won’t be able to vote in a primary.

    You have to point this out to the voter before they sign the petition though.

  12. Jim Riley

    #10 “Why doesn’t the state pay for independent and minor parties’ ballot access petitions?”

    The argument is that since the parties are required to nominate by primary, the state should pay for it. Since about half of voters vote early, and the primaries are conducted by the counties, so they appear to be state rather than party functions, that Texas is giving preference to the major parties.

    I’d let voters affiliate with convention-nominating parties at early voting. A voter could go to the early voting location, and get their voter certificate stamped, and be handed a slip of paper with the convention site for their party.

    Parties should also be permitted to provide some mechanism for participation in nominating activities by voters who vote by mail (perhaps by a proxy). Voting by mail is for cause only, and those who can’t vote in person because of age; disability; confinement to jail; or absence from the county will have just as hard a time attending a convention in person.

    There should be more flexibility in the scheduling of conventions as well. There is really no reason that conventions have to be so closely tied to the primary.

  13. Jim Riley

    The proposed orders, have been ordered by the SA Court.

    Filing re-opens tomorrow for a week (through March 9).

  14. kat swift

    actually there are some problems with some comments thus far:

    1. in TX the parties have to pay the state for the cost of the primaries which is what the filing fees are for. Only primary parties charge filing fees

    2. no new political parties filed by Jan 2, to my knowledge, in order to acquire ballot access, so the change there is irrelevant, i.e. if you didn’t file your party registration by Jan 2, you can’t petition for access. the Greens and Libertarians have access and don’t have to petition this year so the change doesn’t impact either.

    In fact the court orders only impact G & Ls by opening a new filing period which ended last friday and Tuesday we are supposed to start our nomination convention process on Tuesday. Unless my court filing changes the process to May (which they shoulda done in the original court orders from 2/28 and 3/1)

    I agree with Jim’s ideas about affiliation and process by mail, but guess who made the rules…

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