James Traficant Finds Error in State’s Determination of How Many Signatures He Needs

James Traficant, a former Democratic member of Congress from Ohio, attempted to run this year as an independent candidate for U.S. House in Ohio’s 17th district.  However, he was told that he needed 2,199 valid signatures, and after his petition was checked, he was told that he only had 2092 valid signatures.

Now elections officials have acknowledged that their earlier determination of how many signatures were required was incorrect.  See this story.  Ohio requires independent candidates for district office to submit a petition of 1% of the last gubernatorial vote within that district.  Ohio would make less work for itself if the law said such a candidate needs a petition of 1% of the vote cast for the particular office the candidate is running for.  That would be easier, because anyone could easily know the vote cast for that particular office, just by looking at the official election returns from that past election.  By making the formula 1% of the vote for governor in the last election, that forces elections officials to do a calculation of how many votes for Governor were cast in a particular district, something that is not apparent from the election returns.  Thanks to Carter Momberger for the link.  It appears that even though elections officials acknowledge error, the new calculation is only 29 signatures fewer than than the original calculation, so Traficante probably still doesn’t have enough valid signatures.

The newspaper story in incorrect when it says an independent candidate for district office needs signatures from each county in the district.


James Traficant Finds Error in State’s Determination of How Many Signatures He Needs — 7 Comments

  1. If you use the vote for a particular office, you run into problems after redistricting, or it might depend if the race were contested or not. The gubernatorial vote is a good broad measure of actual voter participation. Any competent election administration would have the election precincts associated with a particular district coded, so that they could verify that all precincts have returns for the race.

  2. From the sound of it, this is part of a broader effort to fight for every last signature. How unlikely is another 78 signatures out of the 900-some rejected?

  3. Maybe Jimmy should have run under the banner of the Modern WIG Party! 🙂

  4. Using the standard of 1% of the vote for governor doesn’t have to be difficult, though.

    Wisconsin has an excel spreadsheet with every precinct, sortable by congressional district, state assembly district, state senate district, so it’s really easy for anyone, not just election officials, to find the total votes for governor in any particular district.

  5. Hmm . . . sounds somewhat like the facts of a Michigan Court of Appeals case: _Martin v Secretary of State_, 280 Mich App 417; 760 NW2d 726 (2008).

    . . . MCL 168.544f imposes a graduated scale
    for the number of signatures required on the
    nominating petitions that is based on the
    population of the district. Before April 1,
    2003, the 23rd Judicial Circuit was made up
    of Iosco and Oscoda counties and included one
    judge. 2002 PA 92 amended MCL 600.524 by
    restructuring the 23rd Judicial Circuit to
    include Alcona, Arenac, Iosco, and Oscoda
    counties and add one judge. With the
    additional counties, the 23rd Judicial
    Circuit has an estimated population of
    65,745. Under MCL 168.544f, the minimum
    number of signatures required on a
    nominating petition for an individual
    seeking to be a judicial candidate for
    the 23rd Judicial Circuit is 200, and
    the maximum number of signatures on the
    nominating petition is 400.

    MCL 600.550(1) requires the State Court
    Administrator’s Office (SCAO) to notify
    the Bureau of Elections “with respect
    to each new circuit judgeship authorized
    pursuant to this subsection.” This
    notice requirement is triggered when
    the county board of commissioners of
    each affected county approves the
    creation of the judgeship by resolution
    and files a copy of the resolution with
    SCAO. MCL 600.550(1). However, MCL
    600.550a(4) eliminated the requirement
    of approval by the county board of
    commissioners for certain judicial
    circuits that were restructured,
    including the 23rd Judicial Circuit,
    [Page 420] thus rendering virtually
    inoperable SCAO’s notification obligation
    under MCL 600.550(1). The Bureau of
    Elections, which publishes signature
    requirements, was thus not notified of
    the change in the 23rd Judicial Circuit,
    and it provided erroneous information
    about the signature requirement for
    candidates seeking a judgeship in the
    23rd Judicial Circuit, indicating that
    it was 100 to 200 signatures rather
    than the 200 to 400 signatures required
    by MCL 168.544f. The Secretary of State
    published this erroneous information,
    and it appeared on the Secretary of
    State’s website.

    According to affidavits submitted by
    Martin, he or individuals associated
    with his campaign made at least two
    calls to the Secretary of State in April
    2008 to verify the number of signatures
    necessary to get his name on the ballot
    for the position of judge of the 23rd
    Judicial Circuit, and on both occasions
    the Secretary of State informed them
    that Martin needed to submit between
    100 to 200 signatures and that submission
    of more than 200 signatures was a crime.
    In addition, a document entitled “Filing
    Requirements for Non-Incumbent Judicial
    Candidates” contained the same inaccurate
    information regarding the number of
    signatures required for the 23rd Judicial
    Circuit. In his affidavit, Christopher M.
    Thomas, Director of the Bureau of
    Elections, asserted that “[t]his
    publication has been posted on the
    Department of State’s website and sent
    directly to candidates.”1 Relying on
    the Secretary of State’s erroneous
    information regarding the number of
    signatures required, Martin filed 158
    signatures with the Bureau of Elections
    on April 23, 2008. On May 1, 2008,
    after the April 29, 2008, deadline for
    gathering signatures and [Page 421]
    filing petitions had passed, Bergeron
    filed a challenge to Martin’s eligibility
    to have his name placed on the ballot,
    arguing that Martin’s petitions had an
    insufficient number of signatures and
    therefore failed to comply with MCL
    168.544f. On May 5, 2008, Martin
    attempted to submit 208 additional
    signatures, but the Bureau of Elections
    refused to accept the signatures because
    the deadline had passed. On May 15,
    2008, the Bureau of Elections sent Martin
    a letter informing him that he was
    ineligible to have his name listed as
    a candidate on the primary ballot because
    his petition contained less than 200
    signatures and was therefore insufficient
    on its face.

    _Martin_, 280 Mich App at 419-421. The 2-1 conclusion was as follows:

    III. Conclusion

    We share and agree with the concerns raised by
    the dissent that citizens possess the right to
    redress grievances involving elections through
    our courts. We emphasize that nothing in this
    opinion should be con- [Page 430] strued to
    limit citizens’ access to our courts to ensure
    that the election laws of this state are
    enforced. Rather, our opinion must be narrowly
    construed and limited to the unique facts of
    this case. This narrow holding stands solely
    for the conclusion that pursuant to the
    dictates set forth by our Supreme Court in
    _Federated Ins Co_ and _Nat’l Wildlife_,
    a candidate for judicial office has not
    suffered an injury and therefore is not
    an aggrieved party and does not have standing
    solely because the candidate is required to
    run in a contested judicial election.
    Because we conclude that appellants are not
    aggrieved parties under MCR 7.203(A) and
    have failed to articulate a legally cognizable
    right granting them standing in this matter,
    we need not address any additional arguments
    advanced by the parties.

    Affirmed. No costs, a public question having
    been involved.

    The 8-page majority opinion is here:


    The 6-page dissent is here:


  6. As usual – ANY thing that a MORON party hack election law bureaucrat says about anything is absolutely WORTHLESS.

    The *law* is the *law* — regardless of all such MORON bureaucrats.

    i.e. an army of lawyers is now needed to even get ballot access for anything — due to the EVIL party hacks in the 50 State legislatures and such dumb and dumber bureaucrats.

  7. Pingback: James Traficant Finds Error in State’s Determination of How Many Signatures He Needs | Daily Libertarian

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