Montana Green Party is Almost Halfway Toward Finishing Petition to Regain Party Status

Montana requires a petition of 5,000 signatures for a group to become a qualified party. The Montana Green Party now has 3,000 signatures. The deadline is March 15, 2018. Assuming the petition succeeds, it should be easy for the party to poll enough votes in November 2018 to remain on the ballot. Montana has three statewide races up in 2018, including Clerk of the Supreme Court, a partisan race in which voters don’t care very much who wins, so they are quite willing to vote for their favorite minor party.

The last time Clerk of the Supreme Court was up, in 2012, the Libertarian Party was in a two-way race with a Democrat, and the Libertarian nominee, Mike Fellows, received over 43% of the vote and carried a number of counties. Currently the Libertarian Party is the only qualified third party in Montana.

One of the Three Tribal Representatives to the Maine State House Switches from Democratic to Green

Maine is the only state with any tribal representatives to the state legislature. The three tribal representatives represent, respectively, the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, and Maliseet people. The tribes select them by their own process. They can introduce bills and participate in the committee process, but do not cast a vote on the floor.

On Tuesday, Representative Henry John Bear of the Maliseets changed his registration from Democratic to Green. He had sought election to a regular position in 2016 from district 144, and had won the Democratic nomination, but then he had withdrawn from that public election. He has been the Maliseet representative since 2012. Thanks to Joshua H. for this news.

Oregon Democratic Party Maintains a Closed Primary for Itself for 2018

On November 19, the Oregon Democratic Party reaffirmed its desire to let only registered Democrats vote in its primaries. The state allows each party that holds a primary to decide for itself whether to let independent voters choose that party’s primary ballot. The only party with a primary in Oregon that customarily allows independents to vote in its primary is the Independent Party.

Eight Months Has Passed Since Oral Argument in Third Circuit in Lawsuit Over County Distribution Requirement for Statewide Petitions

Eight months has elapsed since the Third Circuit heard Constitution Party v Cortes, 16-3266. The issue is the requirement that minor party and independent candidate petitions for statewide state office include at least 100 signatures from each of ten counties. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down county distribution requirements for statewide petitions in 1969 in Moore v Ogilvie, 394 US 814. No other state requires minor party or independent candidates to comply with a county distribution requirement.

Pennsylvania also has a county distribution requirement for Democrats and Republicans seeking a place on a primary ballot, if they are running for state (not federal) office. If the Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties win their case in the Third Circuit, it is inevitable that someone will challenge the primary petition distribution requirement as well. Petitioning for Pennsylvania primary elections for 2018 starts in February 2018, so it seems important that the Third Circuit put out its decision soon. Here is a link to the audio for the hearing that was held in the Third Circuit back on March 22, 2017.

National Public Radio Story on Illinois Ballot Access

National Public Radio has this comprehensive story about Illinois ballot access laws for minor party and independent candidates. Thanks to many people who sent me this link.

This is one of the few stories about Illinois ballot access that explains that the problem is not only too many signatures, but the fact that Illinois lacks any procedure for a group to transform itself into a qualified party, in advance of any particular election. Illinois is one of only eleven states that lacks any such procedure. Generally Illinois reporters, when they write about ballot access, do not mention this point. The other such states are Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. Also Georgia’s procedure only applies to statewide office, not district or county office.

It is possible a bill will be introduced in Indiana soon to set up a party petition procedure.