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

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California Senate Passes Bill, Easing Definition of “Political Party”

Published on August 25, 2014,

On August 25, the California Senate passed AB 2351 unanimously. This is the bill that eases the definition of “political party”. Now it goes back to the Assembly for concurrence in a minor amendment. Thanks to C. T. Weber for this news.

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Criticizes Illinois Election Rules for Keeping Green Party Off Statewide Ballot

Published on August 25, 2014,

According to this story, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is in Illinois campaign for the Republican nominee for Governor. Christie criticized Illinois for keeping the Green Party slate of statewide candidates off the ballot. However, he seemed poorly informed about the process.

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Tenth Circuit Hears Oral Argument in Kansas-Arizona Challenge to Federal Voter Registration Form

Published on August 25, 2014,

The Wichita Eagle has this description of the August 25 hearing in Kobach v U.S. Election Assistance Commission, 14-3062. This is the case filed by Kansas and Arizona Secretaries of State over the federal voter registration form.

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South Dakota Libertarian Party Files Lawsuit to Put its Nominee for Public Service Commissioner on Ballot

Published on August 25, 2014,

On August 25, the South Dakota Libertarian Party filed a lawsuit to get its nominee for Public Service Commissioner on the November ballot. Libertarian Party of South Dakota v Gant, 14-cv-4132. The party nominated Ryan Gaddy for that position at its state convention on August 9. South Dakota provides that qualified parties nominate by convention, not primary, for that office and certain other low-level offices.

The Secretary of State rejected Gaddy because he changed his registration to “Libertarian” a few hours before he was nominated. Since he had filled out the new voter registration form on a Saturday, it wasn’t recorded in the county auditor’s office until a few days later. The law says parties can’t nominate non-members. The Secretary of State feels his party change wasn’t in effect when he was nominated. The law is obviously ambiguous on that point. However, the U.S. Supreme Court said in Tashjian v Republican Party of Connecticut in 1986 that the Constitution’s Freedom of Association clause inside the First Amendment means that parties have a constitutional right to nominate non-members if they wish, so regardless of how the state law is interpreted, the party has constitutional grounds for its position.

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Constitution Party Has Enough Valid Signatures in Alaska

Published on August 25, 2014,

The Alaska Division of Elections has determined that the Constitution Party’s nominees for Governor and Lieutenant Governor each have enough valid signatures on their petitions, and the candidates will appear on the November ballot.

It is odd that in Alaska, candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor are elected as a team in the general election, and yet the state forces independent candidates (and the nominees of unqualified parties) to each submit a separate petition, one for Governor and one for Lieutenant Governor.

UPDATE: see this news story.

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U.S. District Court Orders New Election for City Council Election in which One Candidate was Accidentally Omitted from Ballot

Published on August 25, 2014,

On August 22, U.S. District Court Judge David G. Campbell issued a temporary restraining order in Krieger v City of Peoria, Arizona, cv-14-1762. The order tells the city of Peoria to hold a special election for city council in one particular district, that will be separate from the regularly-scheduled city election of August 26, 2014. The name of one particular candidate for city council in that district was accidentally omitted from the original ballots, and many such faulty ballots were postally mailed to absentee voters. Then, the city realized the mistake and printed a second ballot, but that ballot also accidentally omitted Krieger’s name. Election officials then mailed a third ballot, with instructions to the absentee voters that said if they have already used the first or second ballots, that ballot would be counted; but that if they wished to use the third ballot, they should do so.

The instructions did not explain to the voters why a third ballot was being sent, and did not mention Krieger by name. He sued, alleging that the election is therefore fundamentally unfair to him and his supporters, and the Court agreed. No ballots for that particular race will be counted, and the city must start over again, for that particular district, with a special election. This case is significant because it was issued by a federal court, not a state court. It is not always perfectly clear that problems of this kind have jurisdiction in federal court. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has said “a citizen’s right to a vote free of arbitrary impairment by state action has been judicially recognized as a right secured by the Constitution”, and this quote from Baker v Carr is cited in the recent Arizona order.