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


Jonathan Bernstein Asks Political Scientists What They Know to be True but Which Isn’t Generally Believed

Jonathan Bernstein, a political scientist turned journalist and writer, recently tweeted many political scientists asking them what truths do they believe that the public just doesn’t believe? Here are the responses he received, set forth in an article he wrote for Bloomberg View.

Here is commentary by Julia Azari about the Bernstein article. The comments underneath Azari’s piece are especially worth reading.


Washington State Probably Won’t Hold a Presidential Primary in 2016

Washington state probably won’t hold a presidential primary in 2016. It didn’t hold any presidential primaries in 2012 either. See this explanation from Josh Putnam of Frontloading HQ.


Republican National Committee Won’t Be Permitted to Intervene in New Hampshire Ballot Access Case

On April 20, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro ruled that the Republican National Committee may not intervene in Libertarian Party of New Hampshire v Gardner. However, the Republican National Committee will be permitted to submit an amicus curiae brief. If the Republican National Committee had been permitted to intervene in the lawsuit, that would have delayed the case.

The issue is the 2014 law that made it illegal for a group to circulate the party petition during odd years.


Only Two Candidates Likely to Run for U.S. House in Illinois Special Election

Illinois holds a special election for U.S. House, 18th district, in September 2015. This article says that it is likely only one Republican and only one Democrat will be on the July 7 special primary ballots, because the petitioning period for major party candidates is so short in this special election. Primary petitions are due April 20. Republicans need 1,014 signatures and Democrats need 626. Normally when a state holds a special election for an office as important as U.S. House, there are multiple candidates because almost by definition, the incumbent is not running for re-election.

It is very unlikely any minor party or independent candidate will run, because they need 12,602 valid signatures, although the deadline for them is not until June 25.


U.S. Supreme Court Tells North Carolina Supreme Court to Rehear Challenge to 2011 Redistricting

On April 20, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order in Dickson v Rucho, 14-839, telling the North Carolina Supreme Court to re-hear a case against the 2011 redistricting plans for U.S. House and state legislature. The North Carolina Supreme Court had upheld the districts late last year. Here is a link to the cert petition that had been filed earlier this year. See the maps on pages 16-20, which show the rather neat boundaries of various districts under the old redistricting from the 2000 census, and the very irregular shapes for the same districts after the 2010 census.

The North Carolina legislature drew districts in 2011 with very irregular boundaries in order to create some districts with a substantial black majority. Voting rights organizations then sued, arguing that although the plan did virtually guarantee a reasonable number of districts designed to elect black politicians, the plans actually reduced black voter influence overall because the majority of districts are now insulated from the influence of black voters. The state trial court in North Carolina had ruled against the 2011 districts. But then the North Carolina Supreme Court had ruled that the districts are constitutional. The vote in the North Carolina Supreme Court had been 4-2, with one member not voting.

This development makes it possible that the legislature will be required to redraw some U.S. House and legislative districts. If that is done in time for the 2016 election, that in turn may cause temporary improvements in ballot access for independent candidates, something that occurred in 2004 because of late redistricting. On February 9, 2004, the North Carolina Board of Elections moved the 2004 primary from May 4 to July 20, and cancelled the presidential primary, because the districts hadn’t been drawn yet. The Board also moved the independent candidate petition deadline from June 11 to July 6, which was the latest independent candidate petition deadline in North Carolina history (the 2004 change was only temporary, unfortunately). North Carolina independent candidate petitions are so severe, no independent candidate has ever appeared on a government-printed ballot for either house of Congress. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the news about the U.S. Supreme Court order. Here is a news story.


Little-Noticed 18-Year-Old Law Will Force Nevada to Shrink its State Supreme Court from Seven to Five Members by 2019

In November 2014, the voters of Nevada finally created a State Court of Appeals. Nevada had been one of only ten states with no state court of appeals. The idea had been rejected by the voters five times before 2014.

Little-discussed at the time was the existence of a 1997 law which said that if the state ever created a state court of appeals, the size of the Nevada Supreme Court would shrink from seven members to five. If that law is not changed, the court will lose two justices in 2019. See this story. Thanks to How Appealing for the link.

The vast majority of State Supreme Courts have seven members. There are just a handful that have nine members, and also just a few which have five members.