On October 25, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller expedited the lawsuit Hall v Bennett. A status conference will be held on Monday, October 28, at 9 a.m., in Montgomery. The issue is whether Alabama must relax its ballot access requirements for the upcoming December 17 special election, for the vacant U.S. House seat, First District. The plaintiff, James Hall, an independent candidate, submitted 2,835 signatures by the state-imposed September deadline. The law requires almost 6,000 valid signatures (3% of the last gubernatorial vote within the district).
The lawsuit is based on Eleventh Circuit precedent that when the normal petitioning time is not available, the state must either reduce the number of signatures, or extend the deadline somewhat. Normally, independent candidates in Alabama can take as long as they wish to complete the petition. In this case, of course, because the special election was a surprise event, the normal petitioning period was far shorter than in regularly-scheduled elections. The Republican Party still hasn’t chosen its nominee, but it will do so in a run-off primary on November 5.