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


New Jersey Republican Party Sues to Obtain Ability to Make Late Substitution in Legislative Race

On October 5, the New Jersey Republican Party filed a lawsuit against the Secretary of State, so as to be able to replace one of its nominees for Assembly, 38th district. New Jersey elects all its legislators on November 3, 2015. See this story. The party will choose a replacement for the candidate who dropped out on October 8. But unless it wins the lawsuit, that candidate won’t be on the ballot. New Jersey permits substitution but the deadline had already passed.


Maine Initiative for Instant Runoff Voting Will be Submitted This Month

The Maine initiative to use instant runoff voting for federal and state office will be submitted this month. Proponents have collected approximately 75,000 signatures. Assuming they have enough, the measure will appear on the November 2016 ballot. See this story.


NBC Tells its Local Stations to Notify FCC that they Gave Hillary Clinton 3 Minutes of Free Time, on Saturday Night Live

On Saturday, October 3, Saturday Night Live carried a skit in which Hillary Clinton appeared as a bartender named “Val”. She served an actress who was playing Hillary Clinton. The skit lasted for 3 minutes and 12 seconds.

Now, NBC has notified its stations who carry Saturday Night Live that they should notify the FCC that they gave Clinton free air time. The Equal Time rule still applies to broadcast television, but it has been interpreted over the years to exclude bona fide news events, including interviews.

It is somewhat plausible that other candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination might now ask for an equal amount of time on the stations that carried the skit. Thanks to Rick Hasen for this link. Equal time does not mean that the candidates seeking free air time necessarily need to be on Saturday Night Live. It just means they may be entitled to some free time.


U.S. District Court Postpones Decision in Illinois Libertarian Ballot Access Case for the Seventh Time

On October 6, a U.S. District Court Judge in Illinois issued an entry into the record of Libertarian Party of Illinois v State Board of Elections, n.d., 1:12cv-2511. It says, “As the Court requires additional time to finalize its ruling on the pending cross-motions for summary judgment, the status hearing set for October 7, 2015 is stricken and reset for October 30, 2015, at 9 a.m. The Court does not anticipate that the new status date will be reset.”

The issue is the unique Illinois law that says newly-qualifying parties (but not already existing parties) must run a full slate of candidates. The Libertarian Party filed this case in 2012 and it still hasn’t had a decision on the merits. The judge who has the case now has now postponed a decision seven times in the last two years.


Free and Equal Announces Date and Location for General Election Presidential Debate

Free & Equal will host a general election presidential debate on August 30, 2016, at the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles. In 2012 Free & Equal also hosted a general election debate, which was moderated by Larry King. At the 2012 debate, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Virgil Goode, and Rocky Anderson participated. The PBS news show, the Jim Lehrer Hour, broadcast five minutes of the debate.


New Hampshire Supreme Court Says Local Referendum Should be on Ballot

On October 5, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that a referendum should be put on the ballot in the town of Derry. The town council passed a budget that was unpopular. Opponents of the budget then successfully obtained enough signatures to put the budget on the ballot. The town council then refused to authorize an election, so opponents of the budget sued. The Supreme Court and the Superior Court both agreed with the referendum proponents that the measure should be on the ballot. The town council had argued that state law doesn’t permit such referenda for towns with a town-council form of government. The case is Chirichiello v Town of Derry, number 2015-0566 in the Supreme Court, and 218-2015-cv-871 in the lower court.