Georgia Won’t Let Independent Gubernatorial Candidate Re-Design Petition Form

Ray Boyd is attempting to become the first independent candidate for Governor of Georgia since 1942. He needs a petition signed by 44,089 voters by July 13. Back in 1942, independent candidates didn’t need any signatures, but the law requiring a difficult petition was passed in 1943.

Boyd is now trying to put his petition form on the internet, so that his supporters can print it and begin using it. However, the Georgia petition form is a state form. It has place for 20 signatures, some on the front side and some on the back side. The back side also has a place for each sheet to be notarized. It is 8.5 inches by 14 inches.

Boyd recently asked the Secretary of State if he could redesign the petition form so that it is 8.5 inches by 11 inches, and is just a one-sided form. IF those changes were made, it would far easier for most home printers to print out the form. But on May 5, the Secretary of State said that Boyd cannot redesign the form. The Secretary of State also said that the Secretary himself cannot now redesign the form, because the change would need to be cleared by the Voting Rights Section of the U.S. Justice Department. Also the Secretary points out that other independent candidates may have been using the existing format already this year, and it would be impossible to change the form in the middle of the petitioning season.


Georgia Won’t Let Independent Gubernatorial Candidate Re-Design Petition Form — 4 Comments

  1. Why bother letting people run for office in this state? The powers-that-be should just make an announcement that you must be a Democratic-Republican.


    Fed up wtih Georgia

  2. Or a Republican-Democrat. (or as I like to call them Repugants and Demo-gogues).

  3. Back in the 1980s and early ’90s here in missouri i made moderate layout changes to the petitions I was using to get Libertarians on the ballot: I made most text smaller but titles and labels I made bigger. Also made the rectangles for signing, address, etc, larger and the space for the date much smaller and expanded the margins to nesr the edge of the paper. This made it a bit easier to get signers in and out quickly and slightly deterred potential signers from reading all the required legal wordings.
    My submitted petition sheets were noticeably different from the vast majority of the total sheets submitted but officials at the Secr. of State’s election division actually complimented me on these layout “revisions” which they noted made it just a bit easier for them to decifer the signers’ sigs and other info.
    Seems that Georgia petitions reflect the general difficulty of their ballot-access laws! Perhaps those laws and the current petition are in themselves a violation of the allegedly-relevant Voting Rights Act.

    What say you Richard on case law, etc. on petition layout alterations?

  4. Hi Ken, I can’t think of a single precedent that would support a candidate changing the format without government approval. I remember the Ohio Libertarian Party lawsuit filed in 2004. Although the party won the case against the early petition deadline, it lost the other half of the case, over a slight change in the wording of the petition. The Secretary of State had changed the wording slightly in the middle of the party’s petition drive, and hadn’t told the party, so when the party turned in its completed petition, it was entirely invalid. The 6th circuit said by a vote of 2-1 that this did not violate due process.

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