The Ninth Circuit has scheduled oral arguments in Peace & Freedom Party v Bowen for Thursday, February 13, in San Francisco. The issue is whether the Secretary of State should have listed Peta Lindsay on the party’s presidential primary ballot in 2012. Lindsay is under age 35.
The issue of whether California should print the names of candidates on the ballot who don’t meet the constitutional qualifications is very confused. In 2012, the California Court of Appeals ruled in Fuller v Bowen, 203 Cal App 4th 1476, that election officials do not have the authority to judge the qualifications of candidates for state legislature. The court said the Secretary of State was correct to list a particular Republican candidate for State Senate on the ballot, even though he admitted he had not lived in the district for a full year before filing. The court said only the legislature can judge the qualifications of candidates.
Also, in 2010, the same California Court of Appeals ruled that the Secretary of State should not investigate the qualifications of candidates for president. The decision in Keyes v Bowen, 189 Cal App 4th 647, says, “With respect to general elections, section 6901 directs that the Secretary of State must place on the ballot the names of the several political parties’ candidates.” The word “must” is in italics.
Yet in the Peace & Freedom case, the U.S. District Court ruled that because Lindsay admits she does not meet the qualifications, the Secretary of State was correct to keep her off the ballot. Long ago, in 1892, California printed the name of the Prohibition Party’s vice-presidential nominee on the ballot even though he was under age 35. Also, in 1972, the California Secretary of State permitted Linda Jenness to be a qualified write-in presidential candidate, even though she was under age 35.