|This issue was originally printed on white paper.|
Legislators in 46 states have begun introducing bills. At least nine states have bills which would help voters to vote for minor party and independent candidates:
1. Connecticut: Representative Ted Raczka has introduced HB 5810, which says that if a party polls 1% of the statewide vote, it is ballot-qualified for all office. Currently, if a party polls 1% for any office, it is automatically ballot-qualified, but only for that one particular office.
2. Georgia: on January 30, the House Committee on Government Affairs held a hearing on HB 188, by Rep. Brian Joyce, which eases ballot access petitions for minor party and independent candidates.
3. Nebraska: LB 252, which legalizes write-in voting for president, passed the Senate Government Committee unanimously on January 18, and should receive a vote in the full Senate in February. Nebraska has always permitted write-in voting in general elections, but has never permitted it for president. Credit for the bill goes to the Secretary of State's office.
LB 237, which would allow primary voters to sign a petition for an independent presidential candidate, hasn't received a hearing yet.
4. New York: A 1181, and S 616, identical bills introduced in each house, direct the courts to construe the ballot access laws liberally, and to favor the validity of ballot access petitions if the petitions are in substantial compliance.
5. Oregon: SB 158, by Senator Bill Fisher, would provide that all write-in votes should be tallied. The bill was initiated by the Socialist Party, whose 2000 presidential candidate filed a write-in declaration of candidacy, yet under a law passed in 1995, the votes still aren't tallied.
6. South Carolina: H 3273, by Rep. Donny Wilder, legalizes write-in voting for president. South Carolina permitted write-ins for president until 1982, when they were banned.
If this bill and Nebraska's bill on the same subject both pass, write-in voting for president at the general election will then be legal in all states, except for the 5 states which ban all write-ins.
7. South Dakota: SB 7, which moves the independent presidential petition deadline from June to August, passed the Senate unanimously on January 22. Another bill, HB 1011, has not yet advanced. It moves the independent deadline for all independent candidates (not just presidential candidates) from June to August, but it also makes it more difficult for the candidate of a small qualified party to appear on a primary ballot. Libertarians are lobbying to amend that part of the bill.
8. Virginia: HB 1690, which permits candidates of unqualified parties to list their party next to their names on the general election ballot, was heard in the House Privileges and Elections Committee on January 22, but the committee sent the bill to a subcommittee to rewrite it.
9. Wyoming: SF 63, which would have let voters sign a petition for more than one new party, lost in the Senate, 13-16, on January 22. The bill had been requested by the Green Party. Both the Green Party and the Constitution Party petitions failed last year, partly because of the law invalidating signatures of voters who sign for more than one party. There were 4 minor party petitions circulating, and many voters signed more than one (later, the Constitution Party's presidential candidate successfully petitioned as an independent). SF 63 lost because most Republican Senators voted "no".
1. Alabama: Rep. Bob McKee will soon introduce a bill to lower the vote test for a party to remain on the ballot, from 20% to 10%.
2. Arizona: a bill will probably be introduced to change the vote test for a party to remain on, from 5% for President or Governor, to 5% for any statewide candidate.
This would enable the Green and Libertarian Parties to remain on, without the need for either to conduct a registration drive (current law also allows a party to remain on it if has registration of .67%; neither party now has that registration).
3. North Carolina: a bill to lower the number of signatures for independent candidates, and to ease the deadline for minor party and independent petitions to July, will be introduced soon. The bill will also allow voters to remain registered as members of minor parties, when a minor party is removed from the ballot.
4. Oklahoma: Representative Ray Vaughn, who earlier had said he would introduce a bill to ease ballot access for new parties, has now said he doesn't wish to do so. Activists are looking for another sponsor.
5. West Virginia: Law Professor Robert Bastress, who has been active for minor party voting rights for twenty years, is seeking a legislator to introduce a bill to reduce the number of signatures from 2% to 1%. He can be reached at (304)-293-5308.
SB 329, by Senator Connie Lawson, would move the deadline for minor party and independent petitions from July 15 to early May. Indiana ballot access is already too difficult; no state had fewer presidential candidates on its ballot than Indiana did, last year.
Bills to provide for "Instant-Runoff Voting" in federal and state elections have already been introduced in Maine, Vermont and Washington. The Washington bill is SB 5338, by Senators Kline, Finkbeiner and Kohl-Welles. It covers president, congress, and state legislative elections, as well as non-partisan elections. The Maine and Vermont bills, which don't yet have bill numbers, cover all statewide partisan office.
In addition, Washington SB 5006 provides that the top three vote-getting presidential candidates should share in a proportional division of the state's electoral slate. Each of the three would receive at least one electoral vote.
A diminishing number of states have a device by which a voter may vote for all candidates of one party, with one flick of a finger. There are bills to abolish such devices in Oklahoma (HB 1245, HB 1323 and SB 50), Pennsylvania (SB 48), and Texas (HB 405).
On January 16, Judge Robert Redding of the Oregon Circuit Court (Multnomah County) declared unconstitutional a law which says, "Each party shall have the exclusive right to use the whole party name or any part of it". Freedom Socialist Party v Bradbury, 3-02456. The Freedom Socialist Party had been denied a place on the ballot because in parts of Oregon, the Socialist Party is already on the ballot. The Socialist Party supports the decision. The state will probably appeal.
The opinion says the word "socialist" is generic and there is no state interest in banning its use in the party names of two different parties. The judge said the state does have an interest in preventing voter confusion, but there is no need to automatically prevent a single word from being used as part of the name of two different parties. Among the states with two or more active socialist parties, Oregon had been the only one with such a ban.
On January 4, attorneys for the city of New York acknowledged that state law does permit write-in voting in primaries (if there are already at least two candidates on the ballot for the office in question), even without the need for the write-in candidate to file a petition. The acknowledgment was made in the city's brief in Gelb v Board of Elections for city of New York, 99-9369 (2nd circuit).
As a result, the lawsuit is essentially over, and Gelb (a pro se litigant) has won this part of his case. In the future, primary ballots in New York city will include write-in space automatically, if there are two candidates already on the ballot (if there is only one candidate on the ballot, any write-in candidate must submit a petition in order for write-in space to be provided).
1. Debates: on February 8, U.S. District Court Judge William Young (of Massachusetts) will hold a hearing in Nader v Commission on Presidential Debates, 00-12145. This is the case over whether the Commission acted unlawfully when it refused to let Ralph Nader sit in the audience for the first presidential debate, even though he had a ticket.
2. California: although the U.S. Supreme Court discussed on January 5 whether to accept the state's appeal in Jones v Schaefer, 00-675 (on whether candidates for Congress need to be registered voters), it still hasn't decided whether to take the case.
3. Florida: on January 10 the NAACP and a group of voters, assisted by the ACLU, sued Florida in federal court to eliminate punchcard ballots and to revise procedures for purging voter rolls. NAACP v Harris, 01-cv-120, Miami. The case was assigned to Judge Alan Gold, a Clinton appointee.
4. Georgia: on January 5, a group of voters, with help from the ACLU, sued Georgia in state court to eliminate punchcard ballots. Andrews v Cox, Superior Court, Fulton County, 01-cv-32490.
5. Hawaii: on January 5, U.S. District Court Judge Helen Gillmor struck down the state's voluntary fair campaign practices code. Ancheta v Campaign Spending Commission, cv-99-521. The plaintiff, a Republican State Senate candidate in 1998, had been censured by the Commission for a brochure saying his opponent "was in the pocket of special interests".
6. Illinois: on January 11, a group of voters sued Illinois in federal court to ban punchcard ballots. Black v McGuffage, 01-c-208, Chicago. The case was assigned to Judge George Lindberg, a Bush Sr. appointee.
7. Ohio: on January 31, at 9 a.m., there will be a hearing in Schrader v Blackwell, 00-3044. This is the case over whether candidates nominated by petition for the general election may have partisan labels, reflecting their party, on the November ballot. The hearing is in Room 607 at the federal courthouse at 100 E. 5th St., Cincinnati.
8. Virginia: on January 22, the ACLU regional office in Atlanta, Georgia (which specializes in voting rights) decided to sue on behalf of the Libertarian Party, to get the word "Libertarian" on the November 2001 ballot, next to the names of the party's candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. However, if the bill now pending in the Virginia legislature to allow such party labels passes, there will be no need for the lawsuit.
Virginia (2): the Natural Law Party will sue the state, to force it to tally the write-ins for its presidential candidate, John Hagelin. Hagelin failed to qualify for the ballot last November, but he filed a declaration of write-in candidacy with the state, so that his write-ins would be tallied. However, the state refuses to provide such a tally for him.
9. National: the Initiative and Referendum Institute filed a lawsuit last year, to overturn a Postal Service regulation forbidding all petitioning on post office sidewalks. The case is still far from over; it has been stalled by the Postal Service's request that the case be broken up into nine different trials in different states.
There are bills pending in at least eleven states, to provide that each congressional district should elect its own presidential elector. This is already policy in Maine and Nebraska. The bills are:
Most of these bills also instruct the presidential elector to vote as his or her district voted.
There are also bills that do not provide for district election of electors, but which simply instruct electors to vote for their party's presidential candidate. They are:
Texas has a bill setting forth procedures for the state legislature to choose presidential electors, in case of "emergency". It is HJR 45.
Connecticut has a resolution for a Constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College (HJ 3), whereas Virginia has one calling on Congress to retain it (HJ 651).
S453 and S775 would establish the initiative in New York state. S453 would require a petition of 7% of the last gubernatorial vote; S775 would require 5% of that vote.
Florida has three bills to extend voting rights to ex-felons (S 152, H49 and H51), and Maryland has a bill to restore voting rights for ex-felons who have committed more than one felony (SB 83).
Washington state is in political turmoil over how to structure its partisan primaries. An Associated Press story dated January 25 reported that the House Select Committee on Elections had met secretly and written a bill to provide for state conventions for major parties. At these state conventions, endorsements would be made for partisan office. The endorsed candidates would be placed on a blanket primary ballot automatically, with no need for a fee or a petition. Other candidates could petition their way onto the blanket primary.
This solution would still violate the right of political parties to decide for themselves, who participates in choosing their nominees, as expressed by the U.S. Supreme Court last year in California Democratic Party v Jones. On the other hand, if the major parties of Washington are happy with this idea, they are free to withdraw their lawsuit.
Meanwhile, the Senate is working on a plan similar to the system in use in Louisiana, in which the two top vote-getters in the first election are placed in a run-off. This is virtually a non-partisan system, since the run-off might include two candidates from the same party. Some people read California Democratic Party v Jones to mean that this system does not violate the rights of political parties; others disagree.
Neither of these plans has been introduced in bill form yet, but they will be discussed at a public hearing on February 5.
Also pending is HJM 4001, which calls on Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to permit blanket primaries even when parties do not wish them.
Alaska is the other state which must restructure its blanket primary. However, no bills on the subject have been introduced yet in Alaska. It is likely that Alaska will wait for Washington to settle the issue, and perhaps then Alaska will imitate the new Washington system.
Washington is also in turmoil over the date of its primary. It has always held its primary in September, but this idea is no longer considered technically feasible, since it takes so long to count the votes (with over half the votes being cast by mail), that there is barely enough time after the primary results are known, to plan for the general election. The Secretary of State and Republicans generally want an August primary; the Democrats want a June primary. The Democratic bills are HB 1230 and SB 5273; the Secretary of State's bill hasn't been introduced yet.
If the primary is moved to a month earlier than September, it will force the state to deal with another problem, the timing of minor party conventions. Existing law provides for minor parties to finalize their nominees by early July. These nominees are then listed on the blanket primary, and they must poll 1% there, or they cannot be placed on the general election ballot.
If the primary is moved to an earlier month, then the minor party conventions would need to be held in early June, or even earlier. But, that is too early to be constitutional, at least for minor party and independent presidential candidates. Moving the primary to an earlier month will probably mean that Washington will finally give up the practice of forcing minor party nominees to run in the primary. Before 1977, minor parties had no involvement with the primary, and held their nominating conventions on primary day; that system, or something similar, could be revived.
Bills to abolish fusion have been introduced in New York (A121 and S978) and South Carolina (H 3281 and H 3144). "Fusion" means two or more parties each nominating the same candidate.
In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Timmons v Twin Cities Area New Party that the First Amendment does not protect the right of parties to jointly nominate the same candidate. Therefore, state legislatures are free to outlaw it if they wish to do so.
Five minor parties were on the ballot last year in at least three-fourths of the nation. Here is the percentage of the vote that each received for president, in each region of the nation, in both 1996 and 2000. See below for additional information about this data.
|NATURAL LAW PARTY|
Only states in which the candidate was on the ballot are included. The percentages reflect the number of votes received by the candidate, in the states in which he was on the ballot ("border states" means Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Oklahoma, plus the District of Columbia).
All five parties had the same candidate in both elections, except for Reform, which ran Ross Perot in 1996 and Pat Buchanan in 2000.
In 2000, Harry Browne was on the ballot for 98.5% of the voters; Pat Buchanan was on for 95.8% of them; Ralph Nader was on for 90.5% of them; Howard Phillips was on for 76.1% of them; and John Hagelin was on for 75.3% of them.
Four-color maps, on sheets of paper 8 inches by 11.5 inches, showing how each of these candidates did in the 2000 election in all 3,000+ counties of the U.S., are available from Ballot Access News for $6 for each map, or $25 for all five maps. Unfortunately, the maps omit Alaska and Hawaii (Alaska has no counties). The maps divide all the counties into quartiles, so that, for example, on the Ralph Nader 2000 map, the fourth of counties which were strongest for Nader are colored purple; the second quartile is green; etc. The Nader maps include write-in votes; the other maps do not.
On January 14, the Coalition for Free and Open Elections held a Board meeting in New York city. New officers are: chair, Steve Dasbach (Libertarian Party); vice-chair, Shaun Richman (Socialist Party); secretary, William Bryk (Prohibition Party); treasurer, Alice Kelsey (Socialist Party). Other board members are: Tom Sevigny (Association of State Green Parties); James Clymer (Constitution Party); Thomas McLaughlin (Reform Party); Lesley Goldman (Natural Law Party); Nancy Ross (Independence Party of New York); Si Gerson (Communist Party). COFOE encourages other political parties, and other organizations which support voting rights, to join and to name a Board member.
Update: OK initiative.
The group hopes to raise enough money to get an initiative on the ballot in Oklahoma in 2002, to ease the ballot access laws for new parties. The current law requires 5% of the last vote cast. This law is so severe, it has never been used in a mid-term election since it has been in effect. It was created in 1974. For 2002, it requires over 60,000 valid signatures.
In order to get an initiative on the Oklahoma ballot in 2002, 98,739 signatures will be required. They must be gathered within 90 days; the group sponsoring the initiative decides for itself when to circulate. The summer and autumn of 2001 is the target period for this proposed initiative.
The initiative will probably ask the voters if they wish to amend the election law, by dropping the number of signatures for new parties from 5% of the last vote, to 1% of the last vote. An encouraging note is that a group of political scientists in Oklahoma has already asked the legislature to make this change. Of course, should the legislature make this change, there would be no need for the initiative.
A press release describing the COFOE meeting was carried by the email lists for Conservative News Service, and Campaigns & Elections Magazine. Ironically, however, much greater publicity was given to a somewhat similar meeting held in Denver on the same day, but that meeting just involved the Colorado units of these parties. The Colorado meeting featured a 3-column story in the New York Times which was reprinted in many other major newspapers. At the Colorado meeting, representatives of the Green, Libertarian, Natural Law and Reform Parties discussed cooperation on mutual problems, particularly the problem of access to debates.
Although many bills are about to be introduced in Congress on election reform, most of them don't exist yet, other than two campaign finance bills, S22 (by Senators Hagel and Landrieu) and S26 (by Senators McCain and Feingold).
See this errata.
|FULL PARTY||CAND.||LIB'T||GREEN||CONSTIT'N||REFORM||NAT LAW|
|Alabama||39,536||39,536||probably on||0||0||0||0||July 1|
|Alaska||(reg) 6,606||#2,879||already on||already on||5||58||7||June 1|
|Arizona||(reg) 14,488||est. #9,800||12,576||5,000||0||1,588||101||Nov 1, 01|
|Arkansas||21,181||#10,000||2,000||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||May 7|
|California||(reg) 86,212||157,073||already on||already on||already on||already on||already on||Oct 2, 01|
|Colorado||(reg) 1,000||#1,000||already on||already on||already on||already on||already on||May 1|
|Connecticut||no procedure||#7,500||already on||can't start||already on||can't start||can't start||Aug 7|
|Delaware||est. (reg) 250||est. 5,000||already on||already on||already on||already on||already on||Aug 17|
|D.C.||no procedure||est. #3,500||can't start||already on||can't start||can't start||can't start||Aug 28|
|Florida||be organized||pay fee||already on||already on||already on||already on||already on||Sep 1|
|Georgia||38,600||#38,600||already on||0||0||0||0||Jul 9|
|Hawaii||638||25||0||already on||0||0||already on||Apr 24|
|Idaho||10,033||5,017||already on||can't start||already on||already on||already on||Aug 31|
|Illinois||no procedure||#25,000||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||Jun 24|
|Indiana||no procedure||#30,717||already on||0||0||0||0||Jul 15|
|Iowa||no procedure||#1,500||0||already on||0||0||0||Aug 16|
|Kansas||14,854||5,000||already on||5,000||already on||already on||0||June 1|
|Kentucky||no procedure||#5,000||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||Aug 6|
|Louisiana||est. (reg) 140,000||pay fee||1,016||393||17||2,408||23||July 1|
|Maine||21,051||#4,000||0||already on||0||0||0||Dec 13, 01|
|Maryland||10,000||est. 26,000||0||0||0||0||0||Aug 5|
|Massachusetts||est. (reg) 37,500||#10,000||already on||already on||0||0||0||July 30|
|Michigan||30,272||30,272||0||already on||0||already on||0||July 18|
|Minnesota||104,550||#2,000||0||already on||0||0||0||June 1|
|Mississippi||be organized||#1,000||already on||0||already on||already on||already on||March 1|
|Missouri||10,000||10,000||already on||0||0||0||0||July 29|
|Montana||5,000||#5,000||already on||already on||0||already on||already on||Mar 14|
|Nevada||4,099||4,099||0||already on||already on||0||already on||July 7|
|New Hampshire||16,931||#3,000||0||0||0||0||0||Aug 6|
|New Jersey||no procedure||#800||0||0||0||0||0||July 31|
|New Mexico||2,494||14,964||500||already on||0||0||0||Apr 2|
|New York||no procedure||#15,000||can't start||already on||can't start||can't start||can't start||Aug 20|
|North Carolina||58,842||est. 99,000||28,000||0||0||0||0||June 30|
|North Dakota||7,000||4,000||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||Apr 5|
|Oklahoma||61,712||pay fee||0||0||0||0||0||May 31|
|Oregon||16,663||15,306||already on||already on||already on||0||already on||Aug 27|
|Pennsylvania||no procedure||21,739||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||Aug 1|
|Rhode Island||15,323||#1,000||can't start||already on||can't start||can't start||can't start||Jul 18|
|South Carolina||10,000||10,000||already on||already on||already on||already on||already on||July 17|
|South Dakota||6,505||#2,602||already on||0||0||already on||0||April 2|
|Texas||37,381||37,381||already on||already on||can't start||can't start||can't start||May 27|
|Utah||2,000||#1,000||already on||already on||0||0||already on||Mar 15|
|Vermont||be organized||#1,000||already on||0||already on||0||already on||Jan 1|
|Virginia||no procedure||#10,000||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||Jun 11|
|Washington||no procedure||#200||already on||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||Jul 6|
|West Virginia||no procedure||#11,864||0||0||0||0||0||May 13|
|Wisconsin||10,000||#2,000||already on||already on||already on||can't start||can't start||Jun 1|
|Wyoming||4,247||4,247||already on||can't start||can't start||can't start||can't start||Jun 1|
|TOTAL STATES ON||23 or 24||22||13||11||13|
"Deadline" is procedure with earliest deadline. All dates are in 2002, unless they are labelled "01", in which case they are in 2001. #Candidate procedure allows partisan label. Other nationally-organized parties on the statewide ballot in at least a single state are Socialist, Socialist Workers, Southern, and Workers World, in Florida.
The Independence Party of Minnesota, Governor Ventura's party, finally has its first state legislator. On January 3, State Senator Bob Lessard announced that he had joined the Independence Party. He had been re-elected last year as an independent candidate, defeating his only opponent, a Democrat, by 54% to 46%. Before 2000, Lessard had been a Democrat, and had been re-elected unanimously in 1996. He lives in International Falls, on the Canadian border.
On November 7, 2000, an enrolled (registered) member of the Working Families Party was elected to the New York state legislature. She is Patricia Eddington, from Suffolk County (eastern Long Island). She also had the nomination of the Democratic and Independence Parties (New York permits several parties to jointly nominate the same candidate). The results were: Eddington, Democrat 46.62%; Independence 2.77%; Working Families 1.36%; total 50.75%. Her only opponent, Leah Jefferson, received: Republican, 42.05%; Conservative 3.49%; Right to Life 3.70%; total 49.25%.
Eddington has been a member of the Working Families Party since it began. She might not have won the Democratic nomination, except that the Democratic incumbent legislator dropped out of the race prior to the primary, so the Democratic Party was persuaded to support Eddington.
On January 20, Delaware held a special legislative election to fill a vacancy in the 2nd Representative district. Last November, only one candidate, a Democrat, had run. The special election results are: Democratic 62.99%; Republican 33.73%; Libertarian 3.28%.
Last month, the ballot-qualified Reform Party of Oregon changed its name to the Natural Law Party. The change was not surprising, since the same group had previously been the Natural Law Party but had changed its name to the Reform Party in August 2000.
On January 10, former Congressman John G. Schmitz died at the age of 70. He had been the presidential candidate of the American Independent Party in 1972, and had polled 1,106,181 votes even though he was on the ballot in only 32 states. He was a member of Congress at the time he ran, although since he had been defeated in the Republican primary that year, he was not running for re-election. He was one of only nine individuals who polled as much as 1,000,000 votes for president during the 20th century, without the help of a major party nomination.
On October 13, 2000, Gus Hall, Communist Party presidential candidate 1972 to 1984, died. He was 90. Although he only polled 25,674 votes in 1972, that campaign was significant for initiating two ballot access cases which received full hearings in the U.S. Supreme Court (by contrast, the U.S. Supreme Court has never heard a ballot access case brought by the Constitution, Green, Libertarian, Natural Law, Reform or Socialist Parties). One of the cases, Communist Party of Indiana v Whitcomb, struck down loyalty oaths for candidates and parties. The other case, Hall v Brown (which became part of Storer v Brown) won a decision that states must have procedures for both new parties and for independent candidates.
The November 16 B.A.N. mentioned some partisan elections won by minor parties on November 7. Other victories, not previously mentioned, were won by Libertarians: the Prosecuting Attorney of Gem County, Idaho; 4 constables in Alabama (in Barbour, Blount, Dallas and Mobile Counties); a Township Parks Commissioner in Washtenaw County, Michigan; 4 public weighers in Texas (in Brazos, Lubbock, Hutchinson and Nacogdoches Counties); and the Surveyor of Jefferson County, West Virginia.
The Jan. 1 B.A.N. said that the two national Green organizations are near an agreement that the Association of State Green Parties will be the FEC-recognized national party. It should have said that the FEC-recognized national party will be an all-new national structure.