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Minor party presidential ballot access lawsuits have been filed this year in at least 18 states. This is more states than in any year since 1984 (there were 21 that year). Most of this year's cases have had outcomes since the September Ballot Access News:
1. West Virginia: On September 15, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Haden, a Ford appointee, granted an injunction putting Ralph Nader on the ballot. Nader 2000 Committee v Hechler, 2:00-0839. Haden cited three reasons why the state's laws are likely to be held unconstitutional:
(1) the combination of a high number of signatures (the third highest in the nation, on a percentage basis), combined with the law which says primary voters can't sign petitions, may be unconstitutional all by itself;
(2) the law requiring petitioners to get credentials before they can petition is likely unconstitutional, given the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court Buckley v American Constitutional Law Foundation decision;
(3) since the state increased the petition requirement in the middle of the 2000 petitioning period, and permitted John Hagelin to get on the ballot with the older, lower number of signatures, due process demands that Nader also get on with that same lower number (Nader did submit more than 6,365 signatures, which was the requirement before July 1999; afterwards it was 12,730).
2. South Dakota: on August 29, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Kornmann, a Clinton appointee, held the June 20 independent petition deadline unconstitutional, at least as to candidates for president. Nader 2000 Committee v Hazeltine, civ 00-3032. However, since Nader's supporters had not managed to collect 2,602 valid signatures by August, he refused to put Nader on the ballot.
Nader appealed the denial of injunctive relief, but on September 21, the 8th circuit refused to alter the District Court opinion. (no. 00-3101). He then asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put him on the ballot; there has been no response.
Kornmann criticized the way in which the 1999 legislature had changed the deadline from August to June. The legislature had amended a non-related bill and then failed to alter the title of the bill to show its new purpose. Kornmann also noted that a bill had been introduced in 2000 to restore the deadline for presidential independents back to August, but that the bill had died in committee.
1. Idaho: on September 18, U.S. District Magistrate Mikel Williams upheld a law requiring independent presidential candidates to submit a petition signed by 1% of the last presidential vote (4,918 signatures). Nader had submitted only 3,578 valid signatures by the August 25 deadline.
Nader argued that non-presidential statewide independent candidates only need 1,000 signatures, and ever since that requirement has existed (1971), no more than a single statewide non-presidential independent has ever qualified in any election year. However, the magistrate said, "It is logical to set a specific number of required signatures during the off-years and, during presidential elections, to base the required number of signatures on a percentage." This ignores the fact that in most presidential election years, U.S. Senate is also on the ballot. Why should an independent for U.S. Senate only need 1,000 signatures in the same year in which an independent presidential candidate needs 5,000?
Nader appealed to the 9th circuit (no. 0-358-17), but that court has not yet taken any action, and ballots are being printed.
2. North Carolina: on September 15, the 4th circuit refused to grant an injunction putting Nader on the ballot. The lower court had also refused (see the September B.A.N.). The issue is the mid-May deadline for new party petitions and the language on the petition, implying that all the signers are "organizing" the party. The issue of declaratory relief will be decided after the election.
3. Oklahoma: On August 30, U.S. District Court Judge David Russell, a Reagan appointee, upheld the July 15 independent presidential petition deadline, as well as the number of signatures, 36,202. Nader 2000 Committee v Hechler, 2:00-0839. Nader had argued that since the state doesn't require any signatures at all for an independent to get on the November ballot (except for president), obviously there is no need for the state to require 36,202 signatures, which is the highest requirement for president of any state, calculated as a percentage of the electorate.
Russell merely said that this disparity has been upheld before (by him), in a 1996 lawsuit filed by John Hagelin. And he said the deadline had been upheld before as well (also by him), in a lawsuit filed by the Coalition for Free & Open Elections in 1992. Actually, the 1992 COFOE lawsuit had dealt with Oklahoma's ban on write-in votes, not the deadline.
Activists hope Nader will appeal, even though the appeal would not be heard until next year.
1. Illinois: On September 1, Pat Buchanan persuaded the State Board of Elections to let him substitute his actual vice-presidential running mate, Ezola Foster, for his stand-in, even though since 1983, state law has banned stand-in independent candidates. The State Board was persuaded that if Buchanan sued, he would win, based on precedents.
2. Connecticut: On September 22, a single State Supreme Court Justice, Francis McDonald, ruled that the Secretary of State cannot deprive a qualified party of the right to nominate presidential elector candidates, just because the Secretary of State says it's too difficult to determine the identity of the rightful state party officers. He also ruled that Buchanan, not Hagelin, is the rightful nominee. Reform Party of Connecticut v Bysiewicz, no. 16383.
The idea that a state elections office may refuse to investigate who the officers and candidates of a qualified party are, and simply decline to list any candidates for that party, is a pernicious notion. Other states which have followed this lazy policy have been Michigan (in 1976, 1980 and 2000) and California (in 1988). The Connecticut decision is believed to be the first ruling that tells the states that they must decide.
3. Montana: on August 31, a state court ruled that Buchanan, not John Hagelin, should be listed as the Reform candidate. Reform Party of Montana v Cooney, Lewis & Clark County, bdv 00-519. The basis for the decision is that the Secretary of State should have determined who the real state party officers are, rather than drawing a name out of a hat. Since the claims of the Buchanan faction's state chair were much stronger than the claims of the Hagelin faction's state chair, the case was settled by stipulation. Buchanan would not have been on the ballot without this outcome (since Hagelin had won the drawing). Hagelin will be on as well, as the Natural Law nominee.
Michigan: On September 9, Pat Buchanan lost in Ingham County Circuit Court, over whether the Secretary of State is required to make a decision about who the Reform Party presidential candidate is. Buchanan v Miller, 00-923-58-aw. On September 11, the State Court of Appeals affirmed, 229-520. On September 15, the State Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal.
A new case was then filed in U.S. District Court, but U.S. District Court Judge Paul Gadola, a Reagan appointee, refused to act. Watson v Miller, 00-40336. An appeal to the 6th circuit was filed on September 20, but lost on September 26 (no. 00-2076). The Michigan courts, both state and federal, base their decision on a series of precedents from 1976 and 1980, when the Secretary of State similarly refused to determine who the true presidential nominee of the ballot-qualified American Independent Party was. The recent rulings have ignored the fact that this year's situation is different, because the Federal Election Commission, as well as a state court in California, have already determined that Buchanan is the nominee.
Arizona: On September 8, Superior Court Judge Barry Schneider upheld the June 14 deadline for independent presidential candidate petitions. Browne v Bayless, 00-15468, Phoenix. The case had been filed by Harry Browne, Libertarian presidential candidate, on August 18. The day before he had submitted 22,000 signatures (to meet a requirement of 9,598), to qualify as an independent. He had not submitted the signatures on time because he had hoped the ballot-qualified Arizona Libertarian Party would nominate him, but it did not.
The Schneider decision was the first one which upheld an independent presidential deadline in June, since the U.S. Supreme Court victory on this issue in 1983 in Anderson v Celebrezze. Browne cited four precedents from other states which say that June is too early. Judge Schneider did not cite them, and based his ruling on cases from Virginia and New Jersey, both of which upheld June petition deadlines for office other than president. Both states have later petition deadlines for president. Judge Schneider did not seem to know that the two cases he relied on do not relate to presidential elections. The Supreme Court had said in Anderson v Celebrezze that states have a diminished interest in keeping presidential candidates off the ballot, than candidates for other office.
Browne appealed to the State Supreme Court, making sure there would be no confusion about precedents this time. However, on September 12, that Court refused to hear his appeal (no. cv-00-327-SA). Browne then filed a new lawsuit in federal court. Browne v Bayless, cv-00-1774-PHX-RCB. However, on September 22, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Broomfield, a Reagan appointee, rejected the case on jurisdictional grounds: (1) the federal court cannot take jurisdiction while it is still technically alive in state court; and (2) the case should have been filed sooner. Broomfield's opinion is 32 pages long and is of far greater quality than the state court decision. It acknowledges the precedents from other states on June presidential deadlines, but never reaches a decision about the constitutionality of the Arizona deadline.
The constitutional issue will be pursued in the State Court of Appeals after the election.
Various Parties' Pending Cases
Florida: On October 2, a state court in Tallahassee will hear Buchanan v Harris, 00-2203. Florida refuses to decide whom the real presidential nominee of the ballot-qualified Reform Party is, so Buchanan hopes the court will decide.
Massachusetts: On September 28, Howard Phillips filed a lawsuit, against his omission from the ballot on the grounds that 3 of his presidential elector candidates were registered Republicans within the last 6 months. Phillips v Galvin.
Texas: On September 28, a U.S. District Court heard a Natural Law challenge to procedures for random sampling of petitions. Natural Law Party v Bomer, A-00-ca-592-JN. The party had submitted 73,244 signatures to meet a requirement of 37,381, so it only needed validity of 51%. However, on August 15, 77 days after receiving the petition, the state said that there weren't enough valid signatures (based on two samples, each of 890 signatures). An expert witness testified that the state's sampling procedure is flawed. A decision is expected soon.
1. Hagelin's case: on August 28, U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle ruled that minor party presidential candidates have standing to challenge the FEC's tolerance of corporate giving to the Commission on Presidential Debates. Natural Law Party v FEC, 98-1025, D.C. This is the case that had been filed for the 1996 election. The judge did not get to the merits of the issue, but Hagelin is skipping that, and asking the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C., to hear his appeal combined with Buchanan's (see next paragraph).
2. Buchanan's case: on September 14, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Roberts issued a 50-page ruling, finding that minor party presidential candidates do have standing to challenge the FEC, but ruling on the merits that the FEC is correct. Buchanan v FEC, civ 00-1775, D.C. In order to arrive at that conclusion, he concluded that it is reasonable for the FEC to believe that the Commission on Presidential Debates "is not influenced by the two major parties, nor is it designed to keep minor parties out of the debates." He also concluded that it is reasonable for the FEC to believe that the 15% polling criteria is objective. Buchanan is appealing, and he expects a decision any day now.
3. Nader's case: on September 1, U.S. District Court Judge Patti Saris agreed that minor party presidential candidates have standing to bring these cases. However, she refused to grant an injunction against the FEC's failure to act against the Commission, on the grounds that, once the case is heard in full, it is likely that the FEC will win. Becker v FEC, 00-cv-11192, Boston.
1. California: Hagelin sued the state in state court over its decision that Buchanan is the Reform nominee, but the state's decision was upheld on September 1. Hagelin v Jones, no. 00-cs-1218, Sacramento. This isn't considered a ballot access case because Hagelin was on the ballot anyway.
2. Colorado: Buchanan sued the state over its decision to give Hagelin the label "Reform", and won in state court on September 19. Buchanan v Davidson, 00-cv-6917, Denver. The decision has no impact on ballot access; the only result is that Hagelin now has "Natural Law" instead of "Reform"; Buchanan continues to have "Freedom".
3. Minnesota: Buchanan sued the state over its decision to give Hagelin the label "Reform" (both candidates have the same label). Scofield v Kiffmeyer, c9-00-1622, State Supreme Court. The hearing was September 26; there is no decision yet. Ballot access is not affected.
4. North Carolina: Hagelin sued the state in state court over its decision that Buchanan is the Reform nominee. On September 7, his request for an injuction was denied. Reform Party of US v N.C. Board of Elections, 0-cv-S-9983, Wake Co.
5. Ohio: Ralph Nader sued the state in federal court in Columbus on September 27, to get the label "Green" next to his name, but there is no decision yet.
6. South Carolina: A Hagelin supporter sued the state in federal court on September 6 over its decision that Buchanan is the Reform nominee, but the judge has not acted. Batchelder v S.C. Election Commission, 3:00-2765.
On September 5, 2000, the 7th circuit ruled that it is unconstitutional to prevent out-of-state residents from circulating petitions to get candidates on ballots. Krislov v Rednour, 99-3801. The court also said it is unconstitutional to prevent out-of-district residents from circulating for district candidates. The decision was written by Judge Daniel Manion, a Reagan appointee, and co-signed by Judge Ilana Rovner, a Bush appointee, and Ann Williams, a Clinton appointee. The decision says, "As long as the required number of signatures are valid and they were obtained by an adult, what more is needed?". The state hasn't said if it will appeal to the Supreme Court.
Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Rossello signed a bill on September 10 which provides for a presidential vote in November. The bill says that parties which hold presidential primaries in Puerto Rico are automatically on the November ballot; others must submit 8,000 signatures (4,000 this year). These signatures had to be collected between September 10 and 25. No minor party presidential candidate was able to comply with this requirement. Since there is no write-in space on Puerto Rico ballots, voters there can only choose Bush or Gore.
Although a U.S. District Court ruled this year that Puerto Rico must be given electoral votes, the First Circuit is expected to reverse that decision. Igartua v U.S., no. 00-2083. If the decision were not overturned, Puerto Rico would get 8 electoral votes, which could change the outcome of the election.
At the Washington primary on September 19, minor party candidates (for office other than president) had to poll 1%, or they could not advance to the November ballot. For the first time ever in either a gubernatorial or in a U.S. Senate primary in this state, a minor party candidate polled over 1% in the blanket primary for those two offices. Libertarian candidates exceeded 1% in each race and will run in November.
There will be no Democrat in the U.S. Senate race in Arizona this year. At the primary, no Democrat qualified to appear on the ballot. Several Democrats tried to win the primary by write-ins, but 4,105 write-ins were required, and no one received more than 3,245 write-ins. This is the first time since 1990 that a major party has failed to run in a U.S. Senate race. There is a Green, a Libertarian and an independent in the race.
1. Alabama: the Democratic Party is suing in state court to keep a Reform Party candidate off the ballot for District Judge, Lowndes County. Eagerton v Bennett, cv-00-2223R, Montgomery. The primary for major parties is in June. The Democrats claim that qualified minor parties must hold their nominating conventions in April. The law itself is murky, but this interpretation, if upheld, would create an equal protection problem.
2. Arizona: on August 30, the State Supreme Court refused to hear a case over which faction of the Libertarian Party had the right to nominate candidates for presidential elector. Schmerl v Bayless, cv-00-280.
3. California: on September 8, U.S. District Court Judge David Levi refused to put Jim Righeimer on the ballot as the Republican nominee for Assembly, 67th district. Tom Harman got the most votes in the primary; but if only the votes of registered Republicans should have been counted, then Jim Righeimer won the primary. Levi hasn't issued an order explaining his decision yet. Lorincz v Jones, 00-cv-1520-DFL.
4. Florida: independent U.S. Senate candidate Willie Logan filed a lawsuit in federal court in Miami alleging that the state must give all candidates an equal chance for the time line on the ballot. However, his case was dismissed because he should have filed it in Tallahassee. He re-filed there, but now the case probably won't be heard until after the election.
Florida (2): on September 13, the Libertarian Party filed a lawsuit in state court in Tallahassee against state law which rebates half of filing fees back to the major parties (for their candidates), but does not rebate anything if the candidate is a minor party member. Libertarian Party of Florida v Harris, 00-2172.
Florida (3): on September 7, a lawsuit was filed to force elections officials to post the names of declared write-in candidates at the polling place. Chote v Fla. Sec. of State, 00-10072, southern district.
5. Idaho: on August 23, a state court ruled that the term limits law for county offices violates the state Constitution. Rudeen v Cenarrusa, cv00-12, Power County.
6. Maryland: on September 22, a state court refused to issue an injunction putting David Gross on the ballot as a Green candidate for the U.S. House. Maryland Green Party v Maryland Bd. of Elections, Anne Arundel Co. Gross had complained about signature-checking procedures, and also argued that he shouldn't be required to submit any petition, since the Green Party is a qualified party.
7. Missouri: the League of Women Voters, the U.S. Solicitor General, and the James Madison Center for Free Speech have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to void a state law which puts candidate positions on term limits on the ballot next to their names. Opposing them are the state of Nebraska, the Initiative & Referendum Institute, U.S. Public Interest Research Group Ed. Fund, and Missouri Term Limits. Gralike v Cook, no. 99-929.
Missouri (2): the 8th circuit ruled on September 11 that a state cannot restrict donations to a candidate from his or her political party. Missouri Republican Party v Lamb, 00-1773. The decision was by Judge Morris Arnold and was co-signed by Judge Pasco Bowman. Judge John Gibson dissented. The majority said, "The main object of a political party is to elect its candidates to office, and, in large measure, the speech of its candidates is its own speech." The dissent said, "Contributions made by a political party are no different than contributions made by individuals."
8. Oregon: on September 14, the State Supreme Court reversed one of its own 1993 decisions, and said that the State Constitution's provision on the Initiative does not guarantee the right to petition for initiatives on shopping center property. Stranahan v Fred Meyer, Inc., no. S45547. Still undecided is whether the State Constitution's free speech clause might protect the ability to petition in malls; that wasn't in issue in this case.
9. Utah: on September 11, a state court refused to put the Libertarian Party's candidate for Governor, Douglas Jones, on the November ballot. Libertarian Party v Walker, 905838, 3rd district. The judge did not explain why he refused. The party is qualified; the issue is whether it properly nominated Jones.
10. Virginia: on September 8, the 4th circuit refused to put an independent candidate on the ballot for U.S. Senate. Wood v Quinn, 00-2015. The issue is the state law requiring 400 signatures from each congressional district in the state, on statewide petitions.
Harry Browne, Libertarian, is on in all states plus D.C., except that he is not on in Arizona. Pat Buchanan is on in all states but Florida and Michigan, although he still hopes a court will put him on in Florida. Ralph Nader is on in all states plus D.C., except Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming; he hopes that the U.S. Supreme Court will put him on in South Dakota and that the 9th circuit will put him on in Idaho. Howard Phillips is on in all states except Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia; he hopes a court will put him on in Massachusetts. John Hagelin is on in all states except Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia; he hopes a court will put him on in Texas.
James Harris, Socialist Workers, is on in Colorado, D.C., Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. David McReynolds, Socialist, is on in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Monica Moorehead, Workers World, is on in Florida, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Washington.
These candidates are each on in one state: Earl Dodge, Prohibition, Colorado; Dennis Lane, Grassroots, Vermont; Neil Smith, Libertarian, Arizona; Randall Venson, independent, Tennessee; Kathy Brown, independent, Tennessee; Louie Youngkeit, independent, Utah.
Web clarification: In the preceding, "all states" does not include the District of Columbia (DC). Official write-in status in any state or DC does not count as "on the ballot" in that location.
Web Update November 3, 2000 The following candidates have updated ballot statuses: James Harris is also on the ballot in Vermont; Pat Buchanan made the ballot in Florida but not Michigan; Howard Philips did not make the ballot in Massachusetts; Ralph Nader did not make the ballot in either Idaho or South Dakota; and John Hagelin did not make the ballot in Texas. All of these updates are based on Secretary of State web pages; B.A.N. intends to report on exactly who was on the actual printed ballots some time after the election. (Differences in candidate lists are possible but unlikely.)
The preceding information is also summarized in a convenient table.
|STATE||SEATS||REP.||DEM.||LIBT.||NAT LAW||GREEN||REFORM||CONSTI||OTH PTY|
"OTHER PARTY": Alaskan Independence in Alaska; Independence in Connecticut; Socialist Workers in Iowa; Independence in Montana; Socialist in Oregon; Indpendent American in Utah; Grassroots & Liberty Union in Vermont. In New Jersey, there are 7 Conservatives, 2 Socialist Workers, 1 Socialist. In New York, there are 8 Conservatives, 8 Right to Life, 7 Independence, 3 Liberal, and 2 Working Families. In cases of fusion, a candidate is only listed for the party that the candidate belongs to, not for both parties. The chart doesn't include independent candidates. If the Natural Law Party wins its Texas lawsuit, it will have 28 more candidates on in that state.
On September 6, the ballot-qualified Arizona Libertarian Party chose L. Neil Smith of Fort Collins, Colorado for president. It chose Vin Suprynowicz of Las Vegas, Nevada, for vice-president (although, in Arizona, vice-presidential candidates do not appear on the ballot). The decision was actually made on August 6 by the state party's executive committee, but it was only to go into effect if the national party had not recognized the state party officers by September 6. The national party did not recognize the state officers by that date, so in Arizona, the ballot will say that L. Neil Smith is the Libertarian nominee for president. The vote of the state meeting, which was held in Flagstaff on August 6, was: 8 for Smith, 3 for Browne, 2 abstentions. On September 25, Browne called on Arizona voters to vote for Smith; Browne will not file as a write-in candidate.
On September 24, the Independence Party of New York chose John Hagelin as its presidential candidate. The party also voted to disaffiliate from the Reform Party. Hagelin defeated Nader almost 10-1, largely because Hagelin attended the meeting, whereas Nader did not.
Minor party presidential candidates received these cumulative totals in primary season matching as of August 31: Pat Buchanan $4,124,419; Ralph Nader $664,151; John Hagelin $573,670. Note that primary season matching funds are totally separate from general election public funding. Buchanan received an additional $12.6 million on September 14 for the general election campaign.
On September 2, at a national committee meeting, the Constitution Party chose Dr. J. Curtis Frazier of Missouri as its vice-presidential candidate. The original nominee, Joe Sobran, chosen at the party's national convention a year ago, had resigned from the ticket on March 31.
Neil Randall, the only person listed on the ballot as a Libertarian who was elected to a state legislature in 1998, resigned from the Vermont Libertarian Party on June 26. He remains a member of the national party. The state party is supportive of the "civil union" bill which passed the legislature this year, but Randall is opposed.
The Independence Party is now on in Delaware. It has two candidates for state office, but no federal candidates.
The Natural Law Party held its national convention in Arlington, Virginia, Aug. 31 thru Sep. 2, and nominated John Hagelin for president and Nat Goldhaber for vice-president. There was no roll-call vote; the decision was unanimous. Doug Friedline, former campaign manager for Jesse Ventura, is the campaign manager for the ticket.
The Southern Party has its first elected official. Wayne Willingham was elected Mayor of West Point, Alabama, on August 22, by a vote of 41-40. The election was non-partisan. West Point is in Cullman County, in northern Alabama. The only Southern Party candidate on the ballot in a partisan November election is Argus W. Yandell, for U.S. House of Representatives, Oklahoma 3rd district. He is on the ballot as an independent.
Rasmussen Poll results released September 26: Gore 42.1%; Bush 42.1%; Nader 3.1%; Buchanan 1.2%; Browne .7%; Phillips .1%; Hagelin .0%; not sure 10.7%. http://www.portraitofamerica.com/html/poll-804.htmlThis poll is updated daily.
Zogby Poll results of Sep. 25: Bush 43.9%; Gore 42.0%; Nader 3.4%; Buchanan .6%; Browne .6%; Hagelin .0%; Phillips .0%; undecided or other, 9.5%. For later results, see http://www.zogby.com/features/featuredtables.dbm?ID=8