|This issue was originally printed on white paper.|
On April 10, the Maryland legislature passed SB 123, which makes huge improvements in the ballot access law for minor parties and independent candidates. The vote in the Senate was 38-1; in the House, it was 117-17. Governor Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat, has not said whether he will sign the bill. In Maryland, the Governor announces ahead of time which days he will be signing bills. This year he set four bill-signing days, April 14, April 28, May 12 and May 21. He didn't sign it in April but it is hoped that he will sign it this month.
To understand what the bill does, it is necessary to understand that Maryland requires two separate petitions, one to qualify a party itself (and its presidential candidate), and separate petitions for each of its candidates.
Changes to the Party Petition
1. The effect of turning in a party petition is to qualify a party for the next two elections. Under the old law, a party petition is only good for one election.
2. The party petition remains at 10,000 signatures. This is good, since one version of the bill would have increased it to 26,000.
Changes to Candidate Petitions
1. The number of signatures decreases from 3% of the number of registered voters, to 1% of the number of registered voters. For statewide office, this means a drop from 78,000 signatures to 26,000 signatures (the exact numbers depend on June 1998 voter registration data). This is a great improvement for minor party and independent candidates for Governor, U.S. Senator, and lesser statewide office. It is also a great help to independent presidential candidates. It has no effect on minor party presidential candidates, since all along they only needed 10,000 signatures, which remains unchanged.
Changes to Party Retention
1. If a party persuades 1% of the registered voters to affiliate with the party, then it remains on the ballot and can nominate by convention, with no need for any candidate petitions. Under the old law, candidate petitions are always necessary unless a party has 10% of the registration.
2. If a party doesn't have registration of 1%, but it polled an average of 1% of the vote for all statewide candidates at the last election, it need not submit another party petition. The old law permitted this type of relief only for parties which had polled 3% of the vote.
Assuming the bill is signed, Maryland will still have one of the least favorable ballot access laws of any state. It remains one of only two states with separate petitions to qualify the party and the party's nominees. The number of signatures needed for statewide candidate petitions, 26,000, is exceeded by only 8 states (Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas). The new retention test, registration membership of 1%, is also difficult (in the entire history of the state's voter registration law, no third party has ever held registration membership of 1% of Maryland's total).
Nevertheless, the bill is the most dramatic improvement to ballot access in any state since the Massachusetts revision of 1990. SB 123 doesn't take effect until 1999, so the petitioning charts in B.A.N. will not reflect these changes for 1998, even after the bill is signed.
Many people in Maryland worked very hard for the last six years to achieve ballot access reform. Senator Paul Pinsky, a Democrat but also a member of the New Party, introduced ballot access reform in each of the last four years.
Secretary of State John T. Willis, also a Democrat, helped a great deal this year. Activists in the Green, Libertarian, Natural Law, Reform and Socialist Parties worked together with independents and various civic organizations to pass the bill.
On April 13, Colorado Governor Roy Romer signed HB 1110, which provides a means for new parties to qualify themselves before they have chosen their candidates. There are now only ten states remaining which provide no means for parties to qualify themselves prior to an election.
The bill takes effect immediately. However, because of some peculiarities in an old law which was not altered, only three minor parties have a chance to qualify this year. They are the Libertarian, Green and Natural Law Parties. The new law says that a group is qualified if it has 1,000 registered members. However, the state won't tally registration data for any group, unless it placed candidates on the ballot at the last election by petition, and only those three groups did so in 1996 (presidential candidates get on by fee, not by petition). Although the bill also says that a petition of 10,000 signatures can qualify a group, that petition is due May 1, too late for this year.
Finally, the bill says if a group sponsored an independent candidate for statewide office at either of the last two elections who polled 5%, it becomes qualified, but the Secretary of State has ruled that election results in 1996 and 1994 do not count toward this purpose, since the new law didn't exist back then. As a result of this ruling, the Reform and U.S. Taxpayers Parties (which met the 5% vote test) cannot qualify. However, they will run candidates this year by the independent candidate method, so they will be able to qualify in 2000.
On April 8, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Little Cooper, a Bush appointee, ruled that the New Jersey April petition deadline for non-presidential minor party and independent candidates is unconstitutional. Council of Alternative Parties v Hooks, 97-1966. The decision was no surprise, since last year the 3rd circuit had granted an injunction against that deadline. The state must say by May 8 whether it will appeal.
HR 3068, the bill to allow states to use proportional representation in congressional elections, gained another co-sponsor in the last month, Congressman George Brown, a Democrat from Riverside, California.
On May 1, Arkansas Secretary of State Sharon Priest issued procedures by which an unqualified political party can use a stand-in presidential candidate on its petition. This will be useful in future presidential elections, for parties which wish to get on the ballot for president, before they have chosen a nominee. The stand-in may withdraw, and be replaced by the actual nominee, up to 50 days before the election.
The issue has never come up before in Arkansas, because in the past, minor party presidential candidates did not need to petition in the state. However, in 1997 the legislature passed a law requiring 1,000 signatures for minor party and independent presidential candidates.
The voters of Florida will be voting in November on whether to abolish mandatory petitions for minor party and independent candidates.
Floridians for Fair Elections (FFFE) is the coalition of minor parties and civic organizations leading the fight to pass Revision 6. However, FFFE is not set up to receive donations for this purpose. Therefore, FFFE asks that anyone who wishes to donate to the campaign, to please make out a check to FACT (Florida Action Coalition Team), PO Box 100, Largo FL 33779-0100. For more information, call Ernie Bach at (813)-585-1111. FACT has been a registered PAC in Florida since 1992 and is authorized to receive money to influence referendum outcomes.
In the states above, the deadline has passed for candidates to seek a primary nomination, so we can know how many nominees each major party will have for U.S. House of Representatives. However, in some states, it is not too late for other parties to nominate; in such instances "???" means "undetermined". "OTHER" column refers to Peace & Freedom in California, Patriot in South Carolina, Indp. America Party and Indp. Party in Utah.
|Dem.||Rep.||Indp. & Misc.||US Tax||Reform||Libt||Green||Nat Law||Other|
|District of Columbia||265,769||24,656||46,421||?||?||?||?||?||5,079|
|Iowa||580,439||601,655||640,243||- -||279||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|Kansas||424,925||651,548||366,942||- -||1,196||9,703||- -||- -||- -|
|New Jersey||1,143,341||875,275||2,419,517||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -||- -|
|New Mexico||468,762||291,652||104,490||?||219||?||7,054||?||- -|
|New York||4,923,893||3,083,549||2,052,021||- -||122,172||- -||- -||- -||443,501|
|North Carolina||2,340,307||1,490,070||565,317||?||?||3,241||?||?||- -|
The parties in the "Other" column above are:
The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the U.S. Congress 1789-1989 is currently for sale from Edward R. Hamilton, Bookseller, Falls Village, Ct. 06031-5000, for only $69.95 + $3 shipping (there is no phone number). The book was published in 1989 and is out of print. The bookseller has fewer than 20 copies remaining. The book is 518 pages, each page measuring 17" x 13". The book weighs 12 pounds. It contains color maps, for each congressional election, showing boundaries and which party won each seat. It also describes each political party that ever elected anyone to Congress, and gives a list of all members of each Congress, back to 1789. This is an all-time bargain.
On April 24, two lawsuits were filed against the FEC, over the 1996 general election presidential debates: Perot '96 v FEC, 1:98cv-1022-TSH, and Natural Law Party v FEC, 1:98cv-1025. The Perot case was assigned to D.C. Judge Thomas Hogan, who heard Perot's 1996 case on the same subject. That case lost on the narrow ground that the court was required to wait for the FEC to rule.
This time, the court can get to the main issue, since the FEC did dismiss the complaints in March.
In the meantime, the FEC will hold a hearing on May 20 to decide if Perot can use campaign public funds to pay for his lawsuits against the FEC.
1. California: On May 7, SB 1999, which moves the presidential primary from June to early March, will be voted on in the State Senate.
2. Missouri: On May 4, SB 709, which would establish a presidential primary, passed the Senate, by 24-6.
3. New Jersey: AB 184, which moves the primary from June to March, has not yet moved forward.
KPRC-TV in Houston, Texas, Channel 2, will give five minutes of free air time to all candidates on the 1998 general election ballot for Congress or Governor, regardless of party. KPRC is owned by Post-Newsweek Stations, Inc.
The legislative special session which was considering how to re-structure Louisiana's congressional elections has now adjourned, without passing any bill to deal with the problem.
As a result, U.S. District Court Judge Frank Polozola will now write procedures for the state's congressional elections. He has scheduled a hearing May 11 to hear from both sides in the lawsuit Love v Foster, 95-cv-788. This is the lawsuit which resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court last December invalidating the existing system, which requires all candidates to run in a blanket primary in early October. If anyone got 50%, that person was elected. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that this conflicts with a federal law which tells the states to elect members of Congress in November.
The legislature failed to pass HB 192 because the House wrote the bill to keep the blanket primary system, whereas the Senate amended the bill to provide for closed primaries. Since the House wouldn't accept the Senate amendment, the bill died.
1. Arizona: A hearing was held in Pima County Superior Court on May 4 in Arizona Libertarian Party, Pima Co. v Dugger, C313839. There are two factions in the Arizona Libertarian Party. The faction based in Tucson elects party officers in the primary; the faction which dominates in the remainder of the state and which is recognized by the national party elects party officers at meetings. The Tucson faction is suing to get its officers recognized. The other faction argues that state law mandating use of the primary to elect party officers is unconstitutional for parties which don't desire it. The Secretary of State has intervened to defend state law. Further briefs will be submitted, followed by another hearing.
2. Florida: On April 2, the Reform Party dropped its lawsuit against a law which makes it illegal to circulate a party petition during an odd year. Reform Party of Florida v Mortham, 97-3573, 11th circuit.
3. Colorado: On April 17, U.S. District Court Judge Daniel B. Sparr, a Bush appointee, struck down parts of a campaign finance initiative which provides that primary and general election ballots carry a label next to candidates who refuse to voluntarily limit their spending. The law provided no label for candidates who did agree to limit their spending. Colorado Right to Life Committee v Buckley, civ-96-S-2844.
Florida (2): On March 23, the Florida State Court of Appeals affirmed the 1997 decision of a lower court, which ruled that the state committee of the Reform Party has a right to prohibit unapproved persons from organizing county committees. Owenby v Johnson.
4. Illinois: on April 24, a state court ruled that neither the state nor federal constitution requires the state to provide a "straight-ticket" device on ballots. Orr v Edgar, 97-co152. Illinois formerly had such a device, but it was repealed in 1996 by a Republican legislature. Democrats generally favor device, and hoped to win it back in court.
5. Nevada: on April 16, U.S. District Court Judge Philip Pro, a Reagan appointee, struck down regulations which would have prevented committees supporting an initiative from receiving contributions of more than $5,000. Americans for Medical Rights v Heller, cv-S-0413-PMP.
6. New Jersey: the Reform Party is about to file a lawsuit against the state's definition of "political party", which is so strict that no party other than the Democrats and Republicans has complied with it, since it was created in 1920.
7. New Mexico: on April 13, the State Supreme Court refused to hear the Green Party's lawsuit which argued that the party has a right to have "none of the above" on its own primary ballot. N.M. Green Party v Secretary of State, no. 25073. However, it turns out that the party's desire to avoid running any candidate for Governor will be fulfilled anyway, since the lone candidate who attempted to file in the Green primary failed to get enough signatures.
8. North Carolina: On April 3, a 3-judge U.S. District Court invalidated the state's congressional districts, and set the primary (for that office only) on September 15 (otherwise it would have been in May). Independent candidates have until August 7 to file petitions to run for that office. The legislature will now redraw the districts. The state asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the decision, but that court refused to interfere. Cromartie v Hunt, 4-96cv-104-BO.
9. Ohio: On April 27, the 6th circuit struck down spending limits for Cincinnati city council of $140,000. Kruse v City of Cincinnati, 97-3193. The National Voting Rights Institute, which has been working to establish that spending limits for campaigns are constitutional, will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal.
10. Oregon: on April 21, a lawsuit was filed in federal court against a law requiring initiative petition circulators to be registered voters in the state. Slyter v Keisling, cv98-498-TA.
11. Pennsylvania: on April 3, U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Katz upheld state law which requires Democratic and Republican candidates for some statewide offices to submit 100 signatures from each of 10 counties to get on a primary ballot (also, such candidates must submit 2,000 signatures, but that wasn't being contested). Berg v Kane, 98-cv-1601. Phil Berg, a Democrat running for Governor, has an appeal pending in the 3rd circuit, 98-1270.
12. federal law: on April 21 the U.S. Court of Appeals, DC, held a hearing in Fulani v FEC, 97-1466, over whether the FEC is correct to ask Lenora Fulani (New Alliance Party presidential candidate in 1992) to repay $117,000 in primary matching funds. The hearing went well for Fulani.
federal law (2): On March 24, the U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd circuit, dismissed a case brought by Eugene McCarthy over his exclusion from primary season debates in 1992, on procedural grounds. McCarthy v NBC, 96-7822.
|FULL PARTY||CAND.||REFORM||LIB'T||NAT LAW||TAXPAYR||GREEN|
|Alaska||(reg.) 6,403||#2,453||*3||already on||*3||0||already on||June 1|
|Arizona||18,726||est #8,000||already on||already on||0||0||3,000||May 16|
|Arkansas||21,506||10,000||already on||0||0||0||0||May 4|
|California||(reg) 89,007||156,621||already on||already on||already on||already on||already on||Dec 31, '97|
|Colorado||*10,000||#1,000||can't start||*already on||*(reg) 100||can't start||*finished||Jul 14|
|Connecticut||no procedure||#7,500||0||*6,000||0||already on||0||Aug 7|
|Delaware||(reg.) 224||*4,478||already on||already on||already on||already on||20||Aug 22|
|D.C.||no procedure||#3,000||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||Aug 26|
|Georgia||38,113||#38,113||already on||already on||0||0||0||Jul 14|
|Hawaii||5,450||25||0||already on||*already on||0||already on||Apr 2|
|Idaho||9,835||1,000||already on||already on||already on||already on||0||Aug 31|
|Illinois||no procedure||#25,000||already on||*500||*0||*0||*0||Aug 3|
|Indiana||no procedure||#29,822||0||already on||0||0||0||Jul 15|
|Iowa||no procedure||#1,500||already on||*100||*0||0||0||Aug 14|
|Kansas||16,418||5,000||already on||already on||0||*13,000||0||Jun 1|
|Kentucky||no procedure||#5,000||already on||0||0||0||0||Aug 11|
|Louisiana||est. (reg) 128,000||0||already on||400||10||10||50||Jul 1|
|Maine||30,288||#4,000||already on||0||0||*3,000||*2,100||Dec 12, '97|
|Maryland||(10,000)||est. 78,000||0||6,000||0||0||2,000||Aug 3|
|Massachusetts||est. (reg) 32,000||#10,000||already on||*3,200||*0||*0||*0||Jul 28|
|Michigan||30,891||30,891||already on||already on||1,200||*1,000||6,000||Jul 16|
|Minnesota||109,487||#2,000||already on||0||0||0||0||Jun 1|
|Mississippi||just be org.||#1,000||already on||already on||already on||already on||0||Apr 3|
|Missouri||10,000||10,000||already on||already on||0||already on||0||Jul 27|
|Montana||16,039||#10,097||already on||already on||already on||0||0||Mar 12|
|Nebraska||5,741||2,000||already on||*400||0||0||0||Aug 1|
|Nevada||4,498||4,498||already on||already on||already on||already on||already on||Jul 9|
|New Hampshire||14,901||#3,000||0||*3,200||0||0||0||Aug 5|
|New Jersey||no procedure||#1,300||*250||*900||*150||*100||0||July 27|
|New Mexico||(2,781)||14,029||already on||already on||0||0||already on||Apr 7|
|New York||no procedure||#15,000||already on||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||Aug 18|
|North Carolina||51,324||est. 82,000||700||already on||0||0||0||May 18|
|North Dakota||7,000||1,000||already on||0||0||0||0||Apr 3|
|Ohio||45,345||5,000||already on||0||*finished||0||0||Jan 5|
|Oklahoma||60,336||0||already on||0||0||*13,000||0||Jun 1|
|Oregon||18,282||13,292||already on||already on||already on||2,400||already on||Aug 25|
|Pennsylvania||no procedure||#24,390||*2,000||*2,500||*0||*15,000||*0||Aug 3|
|Rhode Island||18,069||#1,000||already on||0||0||0||0||Aug 1|
|South Carolina||10,000||10,000||already on||already on||already on||already on||0||May 3|
|South Dakota||7,792||#3,117||0||already on||0||0||0||Apr 7|
|Texas||43,963||43,963||*18,000||already on||too late||*4,000||0||May 24|
|Utah||2,000||#300||already on||already on||already on||already on||too late||Feb 15|
|Vermont||just be org.||#1,000||already on||already on||already on||0||already on||Sep 17|
|Virginia||no procedure||17,983||0||*400||0||0||0||*Jun 9|
|Washington||no procedure||#200||already on||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||Jul 3|
|West Virginia||no procedure||#5,957||0||already on||0||0||0||May 11|
|Wisconsin||10,000||#2,000||already on||already on||0||already on||already on||Jun 1|
|Wyoming||8,000||10,500||0||already on||0||0||500||Jun 1|
|TOTAL STATES ON||32||*26||*11||10||8|
"FULL PARTY REQ." means a new party can qualify before it names candidates; () means party must also do candidate petitions. # Candidate procedure lets candidate use party label. "Deadline" refers to the procedure with the earliest deadline. * -- Entry Changed since last issue. Mississippi, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia have no statewide offices up in 1998, so for them, chart is for US House.
On March 17, Illinois held a primary for the Reform Party. There were two slates, one loyal to the party's national leadership in Dallas, and the other critical of that leadership. The opposition faction won three of the four contested races. The votes were:
|office||leadership faction||opposition faction|
|Lieutenant Governor||no candidate||588|
|Secretary of State||215||426|
Any registered voter was free to choose to vote in the Reform Party primary. In Illinois, voters do not register as affiliated with any particular party on voter registration forms.
The last minor party to hold a primary for Illinois statewide office was the Libertarian Party in 1996. At that primary, 1,728 votes were cast for one of the two listed candidates for president.
On February 13, the Socialist Equality Party (formerly the Workers League) announced that it will no longer publish a party newspaper. Instead, it will maintain a web site, which can be found at http://wsws.org/. The site will be revised every five days and is called the World Socialist Web Site.
Since the mid-1970's, the party's newspaper has been The Bulletin (later named The International Workers Bulletin).
On May 1, Eldridge Cleaver died in Pomona, California, at the age of 62. He had been the Peace & Freedom Party candidate for president in 1968. Cleaver, a former Black Panther Party leader, was the second past presidential candidate of the Peace & Freedom Party to die this year (Dr. Benjamin Spock, 1972 nominee, died on March 16).
On May 19, there will be a special congressional election in Pennsylvania's First Congressional District, an overwhelmingly Democratic portion of Philadelphia. There are four candidates on the ballot, a Democrat, a Republican, a Libertarian, and Reform Party candidate Juanita Norwood. Norwood is 2nd vice-president of the Philadelphia NAACP, and is active in a broad range of civic and neighborhood organizations. The Democrat, by contrast, doesn't even live in the district. There are no primaries in Pennsylvania for special congressional elections; all candidates were chosen by party committee. The Reform Party is very pleased with its nominee and is hoping for an upset victory.
The Labor Party (previously known as Advocates for a Labor Party) has existed since 1991, but it has never run candidates. The group was formed by union leaders who, at least initially, had no desire to contest elections, and enforced this policy on the whole organization.
However, on January 23-24, the group's National Council approved a recommendation that the party begin running its own candidates, if conditions are right. The recommendation may be accepted at the party's national convention on November 13-15, 1998, in Pittsburgh. The recommendation was unanimous, and it provides that Labor Party candidates will only run under the Labor Party banner; they will not run in Democratic Party primaries.
James L. Tobin, head of the Illinois branch of National Taxpayers United, announced on May 1 that he will accept the Libertarian nomination for Governor of Illinois. The New York Times reported this in its May 3 issue, adding "Mr. Tobin is popular with hard-right, anti-tax Illinois Republicans and has the potential to narrow the race."
Also, the U.S. Taxpayers Party believes it has recruited a "big name" to run for Governor of Kansas, but doesn't wish the name revealed yet.