Home Uncategorized Hawaii Attorney General Publicizes Recent Ruling, Liberalizing Ballot Access for New Parties Running a Presidential Nominee
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Hawaii Attorney General Publicizes Recent Ruling, Liberalizing Ballot Access for New Parties Running a Presidential Nominee

On December 23, the Hawaii Attorney General held a press conference to announce his formal opinion 13-2. It says that new or previously unqualified parties can have their party label on the ballot (next to the name of their presidential candidate) when they use the independent presidential petition procedure. That procedure has a very permissive September deadline. Previously it was generally understood that candidates who used that procedure could only have the label “Non-partisan” on the ballot.

The Attorney General’s press release credits the lawsuit filed by the Justice Party last year for causing his office to issue this opinion. The press release says the Elections Office had been interpreting the law to print party labels for candidates who use the independent presidential procedure, all along. But it was more ambiguous than the press release suggests, because no group or candidate had completed the September independent presidential petition in Hawaii since 1992. States often re-interpret their laws, when the previous precedent was long ago.

For example, in 2013, Kansas re-interpreted its law on how a party remains on the ballot in years when President is the only office on the ballot. The former Secretary of State had ruled in 2000 that parties need not poll 1% for President in order to remain on. But the current Secretary of State reversed that, and removed the Reform Party from the ballot in 2013.

Also in 2013, New Mexico re-interpreted its law on how a party remains on the ballot. The new rule is that parties only get one election when they petition for ballot access. But the former Secretary of State had permitted a party to be on the ballot for two elections.

Also, in 2008, Massachusetts re-interpreted its law on whether unqualified parties can substitute a new presidential or vice-presidential candidate, when the candidate listed on the petition withdraws. The new ruling was to deny substitution, even though in 1996 and 2000 and 2004, the state had permitted it.

And, in 2012, Michigan re-interpreted its understanding of whether the sore loser law applies to the presidential primary. In 1980 the state did not believe the sore loser law applied to presidential primaries, but in 2012, it changed that interpretion.

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