HTML Online Editor Sample

  Ballot Access News is edited and published by Richard Winger, the nation's leading expert on ballot access legal issues.

formats

U.S. Supreme Court Opinion in McCutcheon v FEC Has Language That Could Help Win Ballot Access Lawsuits

Published on April 24, 2014,

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission, issued April 2, 2014, has language that could potentially be cited by plaintiffs in constitutional ballot access lawsuits. The opinion says, “There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders. Citizens can exercise that right in a variety of ways: They can run for office themselves, vote, urge others to vote for a particular candidate, volunteer to work on a campaign, and contribute to a candidate’s campaign.”

Here is a blog post by election law expert Bob Bauer, from his blog MoreSoftMoneyHardLaw.com, which talks about the implications of that paragraph. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the link.

formats

Mark Fisher Wins Procedural Victory in His Republican Party Primary Ballot Access Lawsuit

Published on April 24, 2014,

On April 23, Mark Fisher won a procedural ruling in his lawsuit against the Massachusetts Republican Party. There will be a trial on June 18. The party had tried to get the case dismissed without the need for a trial.

Massachusetts Republican Party rules say a candidate needs 15% support at the state convention, or he or she cannot petition for a place on the primary ballot. Nothing in state law authorizes the 15% rule, but both federal and state courts in Massachusetts have ruled that if parties want to place additional hurdles to their own primary ballot, they may do so.

The lawsuit involves a dispute as to whether Fisher got 15% support at the March Republican state convention. He does have 15.15% if blank ballots are not included, but only 14.785% if they are included. Roberts Rules of Order say blank ballots should not be counted, and the party rules say that Roberts Rules of Order should apply. See this story for more details. It seems conceivable that the party might wish to give in before the trial starts. Even if Fisher wins the lawsuit, he still needs 10,000 signatures of registered Republicans and/or registered independents. Presumably he is already working on that petition, because the signatures are due May 6.

formats

U.S. Supreme Court Sets Conference Date for Wyoming Campaign Finance Case

Published on April 24, 2014,

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether to hear Free Speech v Federal Election Commission, 13-772, on May 15. This Wyoming case was filed by three individuals who wanted to pool their money to run some ads commenting on various candidates and issues, but who do not want to form a PAC, because the paperwork requirements are so daunting. The individuals are willing to make full disclosure of their spending.

Free Speech filed its cert petition on December 30, 2013. The case has taken longer than usual to get a conference date because the FEC twice asked for an extension of time in which to file its response.

formats

South Carolina Supreme Court Will Rule by April 25 in Libertarian Party Nominations Case

Published on April 24, 2014,

On April 24, the South Carolina Supreme Court heard oral arguments in South Carolina Libertarian Party v South Carolina Election Commission, 2014-775. The Court indicated it will issue an opinion by the close of business April 25 (Friday).

By their questions and comments, the Justices seemed to signal that they believe the South Carolina Election Commission had no authority to tell the Libertarian Party that it may not have a primary this year. UPDATE: see this AP story about the hearing.

formats

South Carolina Republican Party Demands that Independent Candidate Stop Referring to Himself as an “Independent Republican”

Published on April 24, 2014,

On April 24, the chair of the South Carolina Republican Party held a news conference to say that the party has demanded that independent gubernatorial candidate Tom Ervin stop referring to himself as an “independent Republican” in his campaign ads. See this story.

South Carolina does not have registration by party, so whether or not any individual is a party member depends entirely on how that individual defines himself or herself. Ervin has already responded to the threat by saying he will not comply with the party’s demand.

There were many independent candidates on the November 2012 ballot who referred to themselves as Republicans or Democrats. That was because, due to a confusing campaign finance law, many legislative candidates from the two major parties were removed from the primary ballots of their own parties and had to run as independent candidates.

formats

Michael Myers Qualifies as an Independent Gubernatorial Candidate in South Dakota

Published on April 24, 2014,

The South Dakota Secretary of State has determined that Michael Myers will appear on the November 2014 ballot as an independent gubernatorial candidate. See this story.

From 1928 through 1994, there were no independent gubernatorial candidates in South Dakota, but independents did appear on the ballot for Governor in 1998 and 2002. Although the election returns for 1930, 1932, and 1934 list an “independent” candidate for Governor, in those three years, the candidate was actually the Communist Party nominee.