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Tennessee Governor Signs Bill Making Minor Ballot Access Improvements

On April 22, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed SB 1466. It makes three ballot access improvements. For a newly-qualifying party that just wants to be on the ballot in a single county, the petition is lowered from 5% to 2.5% of the last gubernatorial vote. The vote test for a county party to remain on the ballot is lowered from 20% to 5%.

Finally, in a special election, a newly-qualifying party can get on with a petition of 2.5% of the last gubernatorial vote within that district. Previously, there was nothing a new party could do to get on the ballot in a special election. This new procedure is wildly impractical, because generally in special elections, the time to collect signatures is short. A special U.S. House election would require the collection of approximately 4,500 valid signatures. This change in the law was caused by the Libertarian Party lawsuit last year concerning a special legislative election, in which a U.S. District Court put the Libertarian Party on the ballot in that special election.

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