Section 192.031 of the Texas election code says that political parties must certify their presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the November ballot no later than 70 days before the general election. It says, “A political party is entitled to have the names of its nominees for president and vice-president placed on the ballot if before 5 p.m. of the 70th day before presidential election day, the party’s state chair signs and delivers to the secretary of state a written certification of the name’s of the party’s nominees for president and vice-president.”
This year, that deadline is August 26. UPDATE: At 2:30 pm Texas time, August 27, Kim Kizer of the Texas Secretary of State’s elections division says neither major party’s certification has been received in the Elections Division. The Executive Office of the Secretary of State refers all questions back to the Elections Division.
This year, neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party obeyed this law. See this link to the Secretary of State’s web page showing a blank for the Republicans and Democrats for president. It does show Bob Barr on the ballot; scroll down a little bit. If the Republicans have indeed filed, one wonders who they listed for vice-president, and why their filing is missing from the state web page.
That deadline had always been 60 days before the general election, until 2005, when for some reason the Texas legislature amended it to 70 days.
The major parties take these statutory deadlines seriously. Both major parties worked together in the period 1953-1955 to move these deadlines to accomodate late national conventions in 1956. Both major party conventions were in August in 1956. In all prior presidential elections, both major party national conventions had always been in July at the latest. Throughout U.S. history, most of them have been in June.
Then, in 1998 and 1999, the Republican National Committee worked with state legislators to move these deadlines even closer to the election, in preparation for the 2000 Republican national convention, which was the latest in U.S. history for a major party, ending on September 1. And when the Republican National Committee chose the 2008 dates (September 1-4), again, state legislatures were asked to move the deadlines, and all the states did so, to accomodate the late Republican convention. It is very peculiar that the Texas legislature moved the deadline to an earlier date in 2005. Thanks to Art DiBianca for this news.
In 1988, the Democratic and Republican Parties missed a similar Indiana deadline. Lenora Fulani sued the State Election Board to force the Board to enforce the deadline. The 7th circuit ruled that Fulani did have standing to file such a lawsuit. Fulani v Hogsett, 917 F 2d 1028 (1990). However, the 7th circuit also said that Fulani waited too long to file her lawsuit. The implication is that if she had filed the lawsuit promptly, it would have been successful; or, more likely, the Indiana deadline for the major parties to certify their nominees might have been held unconstitutional. Fulani in 1988 was the only ballot-listed presidential candidate other than the Democratic and Republican nominees. This year, the Texas Libertarian Party and Bob Barr are the only ballot-listed presidential candidates on the Texas ballot, so the Texas Libertarian Party could, if it wished, bring a lawsuit. However, the result of the lawsuit would probably be to get the deadline declared unconstitutional; no court would order that Obama and McCain be kept off the ballot.