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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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Montana Write-In Candidate for Sheriff Receives a Majority, but Still Loses

Published on November 21, 2014,

Gavin Roselles, a write-in candidate for Sheriff of Powell County Sheriff in the November 4 election, received 1,142 write-in votes. However, election officials won’t credit him with 238 votes in which the voter only wrote the candidate’s surname on the ballot. In addition, Roselles was not credited with an unknown number of other ballots, in which the voter wrote him in but didn’t blacken the circle next to the write-in line.

Because the incumbent, the only candidate whose name was printed on the ballot, received 994 votes, the incumbent was declared the victor, despite the obvious intent of the majority to elect Roselles. See this story.

The Montana Secretary of State’s interpretation of Bush v Gore is deeply flawed. Bush v Gore said, “Having once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the state may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person’s vote over that of another.” Yet Montana has not treated all voters equally in this instance. Thanks to Mike Fellows for the link.

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Newly-Elected Alaska Independent Legislator Dan Ortiz Joins Democratic Caucus

Published on November 20, 2014,

Dan Ortiz, who was elected to his first term in the Alaska legislature earlier this month as an independent, has joined the Democratic caucus. See this story. Ortiz says he chose the Democratic caucus because that caucus does not attempt to bind its members to vote in certain ways on certain bills.

Ortiz is still an independent. Legislators who are not members of a caucus, in most states, have difficulty obtaining committee assignments.

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Indiana Democrat Wins Federal Lawsuit Against Law that Censored his Campaign Literature

Published on November 20, 2014,

On November 17, the Marion County Election Board stipulated that two particular Indiana election laws are unconstitutional, and U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker signed a Final Judgment that no one in the future may enforce code sections 3-14-1-2(a)(2) and (3).

In 2012, the plaintiff-candidate, Zachary Mulholland, was a candidate for State Representative in the Democratic primary for an Indianapolis seat. The party did not endorse him and had endorsed his only Democratic opponent. Mulholland still campaigned, hoping to win the May Democratic primary. But his campaign literature, which pictured President Obama, and the Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate, and the incumbent member of the U.S. House (Democrat Andre Carson), and himself, was confiscated.

The reason for the confiscation was section 3-14-1-2(a)(2), which says, “A person who prints on a slate during a primary election campaign the name or number of a candidate without the candidate’s written consent, commits a Class A misdemeanor.” Mulholland had not said or implied in his campaign literature that any of the other Democrats mentioned by him had endorsed him. But because the politicians shown in his campaign literature had not given him signed statements letting him use their names and pictures, he was guilty of a crime. He argued that the law violates the First Amendment, and the county stipulated that he is correct. See this story.

A similar law, 3-14-1-2(a)(3), was also enjoined. It says when the written permission to mention and show candidates is obtained, it must be filed with the county election board.

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Scholarly Paper Suggests that Polarization Can’t be Cured by Election Law Changes, Says the Phenomenon is World-Wide

Published on November 20, 2014,

Law Professor David Schleicher has published “Things Aren’t Going That Well Over There Either: Party Polarization and Election Law in Comparative Perspective”, a 36-page paper which can be read at this link. His thesis is that western democracies, including the United States, are seeing a rise in voter support for parties and candidates who are more interested in ideological politics than in compromise and pragmatic problem-solving.

He says this manifests itself in different ways. In the United States, ideological groups, especially the Tea Party movement, mostly act within Republican Party primaries and caucuses. In Great Britain and Canada, where it is far more difficult for outsiders to influence the existing major parties, there is growing support for new and minor parties. In continental Europe, which almost entirely uses proportional representation, there is growing support for the kind of political parties whose ideas are so outside conventional politics, the bigger parties don’t want to form coalition governments with them. Examples in Germany are Die Linke, a party too far to the left to be invited into government, and Alternative for Germany, which opposes the Euro. An example in Italy is the Five Star Movement, which wants to require members of parliament to vote according to public opinion as expressed in online polls.

The paper is interesting to read and expresses its ideas clearly. There are some typos inside the paper, plus the paper erroneously refers to the New Democratic Party of Canada as the “National Democratic Party.” Papers at this stage are often posted before they are completely polished. The paper provides references to the work of political scientists who have determined that tinkering with the type of primary system in the U.S. does not ameliorate polarization. Thanks to Rick Hasen and Thomas Jones for the link.

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New Jersey State Appeals Court Revives Lawsuit Against Voter Registration Time Requirement

Published on November 19, 2014,

On November 19, a New Jersey state appeals court revived the lawsuit Rutgers University Student Assembly v Middlesex County Board of Elections. The case was filed in 2011 to overturn the New Jersey law that requires voter registration applications to be filed no later than 21 days before an election. See this story. The trial court had dismissed the case, but the appeals court remanded it and said the case is strong enough so that there should be a trial.

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Green Party of Nevada and Secretary of State Agree to Delay Lawsuit over Petition Deadline, to Give Legislature a Chance to Improve the Law

Published on November 19, 2014,

The Nevada Green Party filed a lawsuit earlier this year, alleging that the April petition deadline for newly-qualifying parties is too early. Recently, the party and the state agreed to postpone proceedings in the case until June 2015. Both sides hope the 2015 legislature will ease the deadline.