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

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Greg Orman Article Describes how State and Federal Election Laws, and Debate Practices, Hurt Candidates who run Outside the Two Major Parties

Greg Orman, who ran a strong independent campaign for U.S. Senate from Kansas last year, has this comprehensive essay on how state ballot access laws, federal campaign finance laws, and the restrictive policy of the Commission on Presidential Debates, all handicap candidates for president and other important office if they choose to run outside the two major parties.

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Full Page Ad in Wall Street Journal Advocates More Entry into General Election Presidential Debates

Change the Rule has put this full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, advocating that the Commisison on Presidential Debates ease access to the general election presidential debates. Thanks to IndependentPoliticalReport for the link.

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Briefing Schedule Set for Challenge to Alabama Legislative District Boundaries

A three-judge U.S. District Court in Alabama has set a deadline for briefs in the lawsuit challenging the boundaries of 28 State House districts and 8 State Senate districts. All the briefs are to be in by August 7, 2015. Then, the judges will decide whether further oral argument is needed. This is the case in which the U.S. Supreme Court decided earlier this year that Alabama’s legislative redistricting plan may violate the 14th amendment. The Supreme Court had sent the case back to the U.S. District Court. The plaintiffs, the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus and the Alabama Democratic Conference, argue that the redistricting plan diminishes African-American voting strength by packing too many African-American voters into a minority of districts, so that the number of districts influenced by such voters is too limited.

If the 3-judge district court strikes down the plan, there would likely be special legislative elections in 2016. Normally Alabama wouldn’t have any legislative elections in a presidential election year, because all seats have 4-year terms and are up in mid-term years.

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U.S. District Court Upholds Tucson’s Hybrid Partisan System for City Council Elections

On May 20, U.S. District Court Judge Cindy Jorgenson upheld Tucson’s hybrid system of elections for city council. Members of each qualified party nominate a candidate for city council, in primaries conducted separately in each of the six wards. Then, in the general election, all the nominees from a particular ward run against each other citywide. The decision is 13 pages and says that the system does not discriminate for or against any voter. Public Integrity Alliance v City of Tucson, 4:15cv-138.

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Major California Newspapers Provide Misinformation About May 19 Special Legislative Election

On May 19, California held a special election to fill the vacant State Senate seat, 7th district, in Contra Costa County. Steve Glazer, an anti-union Democrat, was elected. Stories about his election victory in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Jose Mercury News, all said that the top-two system was responsible for Glazer’s win.

In reality, all California special elections 1967-2010 used a blanket primary. All candidates ran on a single primary ballot and all voters used that ballot. If someone got 50% that person was elected. Otherwise there was a runoff, with the top vote-getter from each party, plus any independent candidates. In the first round in this 7th district race, Glazer received 38,411 votes. The 2nd highest Democrat only received 28,389 votes. No one got 50% and there was one Republican on the ballot.

Under the old system, Glazer would have been in a runoff with the only Republican. He would have been the Democratic nominee because he got more votes than any other Democrat. He would easily have defeated the only Republican in the runoff, since she had no campaign, and even endorsed Glazer.

Nothwithstanding these facts, the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Had Glazer been playing under the old rules – in which each party selects its nominees for the general election – he wouldn’t have been in the runoff at all.” The election returns from the March first round disprove that. The reporter who wrote the story e-mailed me to say that the paper would not run a correction, because if a strong Republican had entered the election, then Glazer might not have done so well in the first round. However, the fact that a strong Republican didn’t enter the race has nothing to do with the new election system. No strong Republican entered the race because Republican Party officials discouraged them and supported Glazer. They would have acted the same way under the old system.

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British Columbia Newspaper Carries Op-Ed in Favor of Proportional Representation

The Nelson Star, a daily newspaper in British Columbia, has this op-ed advocating proportional representation for Canada. The author is Danette Moule of Fairvote Canada.