On September 16, independent candidate James Hall filed a lawsuit against Alabama, seeking a reduction in the number of signatures needed for petitioning candidates in the upcoming special election to fill the vacant U.S. House seat, First District. The lawsuit is Hall v Bennett, 2:13-663, middle district of Alabama. See this story.
Alabama law does not prevent independent candidates from starting to petition as early as they wish, so normally, an independent candidate may have up to two years to collect the needed signatures. However, in this special election, the date of the election was not announced until July 29. Alabama petitions normally must display the date of the election, and until the end of July, no one knew what the date of the election would be. The petition is due September 24. The state did not reduce the number of signatures to take into account that the time period is so much shorter for this election than in a normal election. The election will be on December 17.
The Illinois Green Party won a similar lawsuit earlier this year. A federal court in Illinois reduced the number of signatures required for the special election to fill the vacant 2nd district from 15,682 signatures to 3,444 signatures, because the petitioning time had been shortened. Jones v McGuffage, 921 F.Supp.2d 888. Similar lawsuits were won in Georgia in 2002 and 1981, and in Florida in 1982 and 1989, and Maryland in 1981. The Alabama petition requirement for the upcoming election is 5,938 valid signatures (3% of the last vote cast for Governor inside that district).