The Republican Party is holding its state convention in Anaheim, October 20-22. According to this Los Angeles Times story, the party will decide whether to endorse the proposed initiative to repeal the top-two system. The party will also vote on whether to begin making endorsements prior to primaries, so as to increase the chances that a Republican can qualify for the November ballot.
On September 22, the Seventh Circuit issued a 12-page opinion in Libertarian Party of Illinois v Scholz, 16-1667. The opinion says the U.S. District Court was correct when it invalidated the Illinois “full-slate” ballot access restriction. The law, which has existed since 1931, says a newly-qualifying party must run a full slate of candidates or it can’t run any. The law has made life miserable for minor parties in Illinois for 86 years, and there have been many attempts to have it declared unconstitutional in the past, but they had all failed. The law did not apply to qualified parties.
This current case took years to reach this point. It was filed in 2012. The attorney who filed the case, Gary Sinawski, had died in the meantime, and the party had had to find a new attorney to carry on the case, David Schoen. Both of them did an excellent job.
The full-slate law was especially harmful in the years when Illinois had cumulative voting for the lower house of the legislature, before 1981. The cumulative voting law said that each district elected three representatives. If a ballot-qualified party only wanted to run one nominee in a district, then the voters were permitted to cast all three of their votes for that one candidate. Or, if a party ran two, then voters could give each of the two one and one-half votes. But, unqualified parties were forced to run a “full slate”, meaning three candidates. Thus their candidates couldn’t take advantage of the cumulative voting system.
The Harold Washington Party had challenged the full-slate law in 1990, along with a challenge to the number of signatures, in a case called Norman v Reed, which went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Although the party won the part of the case about the number of signatures, the U.S. Supreme Court avoided settling the full-slate issue. Later, the Green Party had challenged the full-slate law in Illinois state court, but the state court upheld the law.
Supporters of the National Popular Vote Plan, and others who are also dissatisfied with current presidential election procedures, will hold a forum at Stanford University, October 7, Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Among the speakers will be two members of Congress, Jaime Raskin of Maryland and Anna Eshoo of California. Thanks to Paula Lee for this news. Here is more about the event.
On September 22, the California legislature forwarded SB 568 to Governor Jerry Brown. He has two weeks to act on the bill. It moves the primary in all years from June to early March.
Election law professor Derek Muller wrote this commentary about the bill on September 21. Muller is critical of having the primary for congress and partisan state office in March, and labels it an “incumbent protection bill.” But further down in his column, he also makes the point that a system in which it is impossible for anyone to get on the November ballot, unless they act by December of the year before the election, may be unconstitutional. Although Illinois and Texas also have March primaries for all office, at least they allow for petitioning for minor party and independent candidates to get on the ballot after the primary is over.
Currently, at least until or unless Brown signs the bill, there is no state in which all routes to the November ballot are blocked, unless the candidate takes action in the year before the election. Arkansas briefly had a system like that, but the courts and the legislature overturned that aspect of the system.
Eric McGhee and Boris Shor, political scientists who study primary election systems, have published a newer version of their research on whether top-two systems elect more moderate politicians. The paper is 30 pages and can be read at this link.
On September 21, Maine representative Ralph Chapman announced that he had changed his registration from independent to Green. He was first elected in 2010 as a Democrat, and was re-elected as a Democrat in 2012, 2014, and 2016. He received 57.6% of the vote as the Democratic nominee in November 2016.
On May 26, 2017, he had changed from Democratic to independent. He graduated from college as a physics major, and is an expert on solar energy.
Chapman is the first Green state legislator anywhere in the U.S. since 2012, when Fred Smith was elected in Arkansas as the Green Party nominee. However, almost immediately after the 2012 election, Smith left the Green Party and became a Democrat.
The web page for the Maine legislature already lists Chapman as a Green. See this page. His district is centered on Brooksville, which is in Hancock County, on the coast.