Michigan Secretary of State Says She Won’t Print Gary Johnson’s Name on the November Ballot as a Libertarian

On May 3, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican, sent a letter to the Michigan Libertarian Party, saying she would not print Gary Johnson’s name on the November 2012 ballot as the Libertarian nominee for President, should the party nominate him. This was in response to the Michigan Libertarian Party’s request for a ruling, which had been sent on March 27.

Here is the Secretary of State’s letter. The basis for the refusal is Michigan statute 168.695, which says, “No person whose name was printed or placed on the primary ballots or voting machines as a candidate for nomination on the primary ballots of one political party shall be eligible as a candidate of any other political party at the election following the primary.” This law was passed in 1955, at a time when Michigan did not have a presidential primary. In 1980, John B. Anderson formed the “Anderson Coalition Party” within Michigan, and his name was printed as that party’s presidential nominee in November 1980, even though Anderson had run in the Michigan Republican presidential primary on May 20. Thus, a precedent was set that this law does not apply to presidential primary candidates.

The Secretary of State tries to differentiate the Anderson precedent by saying, “In 1980 there was no mechanism for an independent candidate for President to obtain access to the ballot.” This statement is not true. The Secretary of State is making reference to the fact that Michigan had no statutory procedures for independent candidates for any office to get on the ballot in 1980. But, in 1980, the state did have a procedure for independent candidates to get on the ballot. That method had been created in 1976, in a ruling called McCarthy v Austin. Under the McCarthy procedure, an independent candidate would make up his or her own petition form, and collect the same number of signatures that were required by a new party.

The Secretary of State’s letter does not even try to rebut one of the Michigan Libertarian Party’s strongest arguments, which is that under the U.S. Constitution and federal law, the November election is for the purpose of electing presidential electors. Presidential candidates’ names appear on the ballot, not in their role as candidates, but as markers or labels for competing slates of presidential elector candidates. Michigan has a strong policy that the presidential electors themselves are the true candidates. This is demonstrated by the fact that in 1972, 1980, and 1988, Michigan printed the names of presidential candidates on general election ballots even though in each case, that presidential candidate was under age 35, and this fact was well-known in all three cases. The three such under-age candidates were Linda Jenness in 1972, Andrew Pulley in 1980, and Larry Holmes in 1988. If Michigan considered the presidential candidates themselves to be the true candidates, Michigan would not have printed their names on the ballot.

The Libertarian Party will sue, if the Secretary of State does not change her mind. The potential lawsuit will be bolstered by a Sixth Circuit order in LaRouche v Austin, issued on August 31, 1984. That order required the Secretary of State to print Lyndon LaRouche’s name on the November 1984 ballot as an independent presidential candidate, even though he had run in various Democratic presidential primaries that year. The order says, “See Anderson v Celebrezze (state’s interest in regulating a nationwide Presidential election is not as strong as interest in regulating intra-state elections; ‘no state could single-handedly assure political stability in the Presidential context’).” At the time, Michigan still didn’t have statutory procedures for independent presidential candidates, and LaRouche had filed documents showing he had a modicum of voter support and asked the Secretary of State to print his name on the ballot as an independent in November. Secretary of State Richard Austin had declined, on the basis that he was a “sore loser” (even though there was no statutory procedure so there was no sore loser law for independents). Here is a copy of the Libertarian Party’s March 27 request for a ruling.

Because the Secretary of State does say Gary Johnson is free to petition onto the ballot as an independent, the state will have no defense if it tries to argue that its interest in “stability” justifies keeping Johnson off the November ballot as a Libertarian. The state has already conceded there is no “stability” interest in keeping Johnson off the November ballot via the independent petition method, so it can hardly argue that “stability” means he can’t be on as a Libertarian.


Michigan Secretary of State Says She Won’t Print Gary Johnson’s Name on the November Ballot as a Libertarian — 52 Comments

  1. Pingback: Michigan Secretary of State Says She Won’t Print Gary Johnson’s Name on the … – Ballot Access | Amazing News

  2. I thought it was already established in a court ruling that so-called “sore loser” statutes are not valid for presidential elections.

  3. Change the title please… “Michigan Secretary of State denies Libertarian access to ballot due to a technicality in order to boost Romney’s election hopes”

  4. Come election day every enployee of G.M. in Michigan will have a chance to repay romney for his support he gave the American car companys. Republicans love voter suppression

  5. Just another example of anti american values embedded in the government. This one drooling nazi, drunk on the thought that she will hold back the tide of real democracy by proclaiming to the world like a 5 year old hall monitor that she will refuse, she will not abide some libertarian come to save freedom from the idiots like herself who interpret the laws to their own hypocritical wants and wishes. May this anti american piece of fecal matter wake up in the neo germany that america is becoming because of shit headed retards like herself.


  7. Michael, could you please be a little more specific in your condemnation of Ruth wants-to-be-Queen Johnson? 🙂

  8. Pingback: Michigan Secretary of State Says She Won’t Print Gary Johnson’s Name on the … – Ballot Access | GoogleITV.com

  9. Why should they put his name on the ballot ?
    Liberatarian is just another name for Republican just as Tea Party is. It’s a blatant attempt to steal votes from the democrats by offering what seems as a moderate alternative. Don’t believe it. If you want proof, ask any liberatarian in any election who they are going to vote for. Without fail, it will be a Republican candidate.

  10. If you really want to vote for Johnson, write in your vote. How hard is that, unless your an illiterate Republican. God knows Republican’s don’t believe in schools !

  11. The proof is in the pudding. This headline was copied directly from an edition Reuters. Copy and paste this headline into google if you want to find the original edition:
    (Reuters) – The U.S. Libertarian Party on Saturday chose former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who was once a Republican White House hopeful, as its presidential candidate in the November 6 election.

  12. Boris: Libertarians are not republicans. A libertarian would not drone bomb innocents at rated 7x GWB did, as Obama is doing. A libertarian would not try to undermine the Cluster Bomb treaty, as Obama has. A libertarian would not destroy the great liberal achievement to come out of the Viet Nam war, namely the “War Powers Act” by engaging in war without congressional authority as Obama did in Libya. A libertarian would not sell out the American public by requiring everyone to support the insurance industry as Obama has. A libertarian would not excuse torturers, as Obama has. A libertarian would not execute American citizens without trial, as Obama has at least twice. A libertarian would not sign a law authorizing due process free detention, as Obama has. A libertarian would not have nearly quadrupled the military scale in Afghanistan, as Obama has. A libertarian would not have lobbied Iraq to allow troops to stay after the December 2011 deadline set by Bush, as Obama has.

    Seriously, if you really want war, death, waste, and a police state, feel free to vote republocrat or demoplican. But there’s no way a libertarian can steal votes, presumably liberal votes, from a Obama because any self-respecting liberal would shoot him or herself in the head before voting for that neo-conservative, murderous, civil rights destroying pretender to liberal values by the name of Obama.

  13. Pingback: Gary Johnson wins Prez. nomination – KRQE | Amazing News

  14. I really hope the LP can win the legal challenges it faces, but even if it does, it’ll have to spend countless resources that could have been used elsewhere, and the minor media buzz about reaching ballot access in all 50 states will come painfully late. Just another way the establishment handcuffs the little guys.

    12 – this is an excellent post and your site very concisely and fairly explains why any rational progressive would not vote for Obama. Open-minded liberals might be afraid of a libertarian’s economic policies however, and that’s why it’s my hope that over the summer Johnson will start talking more about important economic issues neither party addresses, like monetary reform. Anyone who thinks it’s futile to change the people’s minds should examine Perot’s ’92 campaign (though of course it takes a lot of dough to run 30 minute infomercials rather than 30 second ads).

  15. 12 –

    “Libertarians are not Republicans.”

    They just sound a lot like them, I guess.

  16. Libertarians do not sound a lot like republicans — when was the last time you heard a republican calling for the end of imperialism, the end of the drug war and supporting civil liberties.

    I’m not a real libertarian I suppose, because I don’t really buy into the idea that laisez faire economic policy is awesome, but I’ll say this, none of the hot button issues the Republicans or Democrats use to trick voters into thinking there is a difference between the two parties matters if you’re dead or in a gulag, and both Democrats and Republicans have been falling over themselves to eliminate the need for the government to publicly try anyone before executing them, imprisoning them, torturing them, or spying on them.

    I’ll take a person who has the correct moral stance on civil liberties, even if I disagree with them fiscally, because it really is true: if you are dead you won’t care what the economy is doing, and if you’re in a gulag, the same thing is true. These issues trump all others.

  17. Libertarians are not Democrats nor Republicans because they are both liberal and conservative at the same time depending on the issue.

  18. Boris, this idea of “stealing votes from Democrats” implies the Democrats OWN anyone’s vote. That’s patently untrue and offensive to those of us of other parties who believe that candidates and parties have to EARN our votes!!
    The sooner this is understood, the better!

  19. “Why should they put his name on the ballot ?
    Liberatarian is just another name for Republican just as Tea Party is. It’s a blatant attempt to steal votes from the democrats by offering what seems as a moderate alternative. Don’t believe it. If you want proof, ask any liberatarian in any election who they are going to vote for. Without fail, it will be a Republican candidate.”

    Blatant lies. I do NOT vote for Republicans. In fact, I’m more in line with the Democrats (though I wouldn’t vote for them either).

  20. 16 – I would say that any libertarian who seriously studies history should know there is really no such thing as laisez faire economics as long as there are governments. Even a minimalist government by its very nature of existence and function will impact the economy in some ways (such as if it maintains a military or builds roads).

    However, the government’s role should be to encourage competition and minimize entry barriers, but at every turn in the past 125 years American government strives to discourage competition and turn markets into oligopolies of a few firms. Even the Sherman Anti-Trust Act did more to encourage huge corporate entities than break them down because it banned any form of collusion. Thus it became illegal for small local firms to form regional “gentlemen’s agreements” or cartels as they did in Europe at the time (with the force of contract), and the only alternative was merging into giant nationwide corporations. This wasn’t any better for the consumer, and for potential competitors it was definitely worse since they could be out-muscled. The modern corporate world therefore can’t really be blamed on an abstract notion of “capitalism,” for capitalism only exists insofar as government circumscribes it.

  21. (but your point is well taken – it doesn’t really matter how many assets you have if you can be detained indefinitely and have your assets frozen)

  22. Welcome to life in Michigan since the Republicans have controlled all branches. There has never been a more hateful, autocratic party ruling a state. What they are doing to teachers is criminal. They are wrecking the public schools in Michigan.

    They are also appointing emergency managers in local municipalities and school districts that can fire anybody and void any contracts they want. They are acting like fascists, and this move does not surprise me. I have never been more disenchanted by a government.

  23. Pingback: It's Official! Gary Johnson Is The Libertarian Presidential Candidate. - Page 4 - INGunOwners

  24. I hired a Libertarian plumber once. When he came to my house he told me he hated water and refused to use pipe.

  25. Simple solution: There’s another LP member named Gary Johnson, of Texas. Put his name on the MI ballot as a stand-in. The law is technically being complied with, and the voters will know who they’re voting for.

  26. #28, that’s a good idea. Gary Johnson of Austin, Texas, even has the same middle initial as former Governor Gary Johnson. It is “E” for both of them. And Gary Johnson of Texas is happy to be the Michigan Libertarian nominee if necessary. However, the Secretary of State’s position is so weak legally that it probably won’t be necessary.

  27. Here is a simple solution if the Secretary of State’s position is upheld: Have the Michigan Libertarian party nominate Judge Gray for President and Gov. Johnson for Vice-President in just that state. That way both of their names will still be on the ballot and the “sore loser” law won’t be affected.

  28. I really think the bigger story is that the Republicans in Michigan are once again taking advantage of an opportunity to be undemocratic. I wish the rest of the country knew what these people have been doing the past two years. Thank God that Rachel Maddow partially exposed them on her show about a month ago.

  29. “Average Joe” Schriner, Independent For President 2012.

    Only one Candidate in this election is a true “man of the people.” Only one man is against all forms of institutionalized killing: War, Abortion, Capital Punishment, Euthanasia. And yet, he also favors healthcare for all (implemented at the local level) and better educational opportunities for our youth. Only one individual in this race has traveled America seeking common-sense remedies to our problems at little or no cost to the American Taxpayer. Only Joe Schriner will be both an “Activist President” and an advocate for Community, State, and Local Government solutions. Solutions that local communities throughout America have proven to work in helping the environment, ending homelessness, offering access to quality healthcare for all, and cutting government waste.

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  30. Elephant robot party hacks like the Mich SOS have their marching orders by the EVIL top Elephant monarch / oligarchs —

    Get the LP Prez candidate OFF the ballots using ANY excuse possible.

    Same type of stuff for Green Prez candidates by the EVIL top Donkeys ??? Duh.

  31. Pingback: Monday briefing and open thread « Blogging for Michigan

  32. Pingback: Michigan Secretary of State Claims She Won’t Allow Gary Johnson On Ballot As Libertarian | Independent Political Report

  33. #30, that’s very creative. However the literal language of the law the Secretary of State is relying on wouldn’t let Gary Johnson run for v-p either.

  34. States should modify their presidential election laws so that it is the presidential candidate who files, with the consent of the vice-presidential candidate, elector candidates, and state political party (if not running as an independent).

  35. #38, so you want President Obama to be forced to fill out candidacy forms from all 50 states and D.C.? Why put that paperwork burden on him when the existing laws put the burden on the political parties? He has enough to do.

  36. #16 absolutely! The difference between the major parties is now so miniscule that its immaterial..they both are only for the “elite” and if anyone doesn’t see it you must be blind.

  37. How many States have sore loser laws ???

    Have such laws been ruled constitutional or UN-constitutional by the courts – i.e. by SCOTUS ???

  38. #41, no political party has ever been told (until Michigan 2012) that it may not place its presidential nominee on the ballot on the basis that he or she ran in another party’s primary. Michigan would be the first. Political parties that have nominated presidential candidates who had earlier that year run in another party’s presidential primary include the Progressive Party of 1912, the Progressive, Farmer-Labor Parties and Socialist Parties of 1924, the Populist Party of 1988, and the various one-state political parties that existed in North Carolina and Michigan in 1980 and nominated John Anderson.

  39. Pingback: The American Conservative » Keeping Gary Johnson Off the Ballot

  40. #39 If a candidate wants to have his name printed on the ballot in a State, can’t he be expected to make some effort?

    Better yet, make an elector candidate collect 50 or 100 signatures from his electoral district. If he wants to have a presidential candidate listed on the ballot, let the presidential candidate witness the signatures.

  41. One more mess and reason to ABOLISH the evil timebomb Electoral College.

    Nonpartisan App.V. for electing a Prez.

    See the France Prez election — DIRECT election by the voters.

    The Sun will continue to rise and set.

  42. #31, actually, Michigan Voter, they are being very Democratic [big-D]. Haven’t you been following on these pages what has happened to Ralph Nader?

    Richard, do you know if this is a coordinated effort by the Michigan Republican Party, or is the Secretary of State just acting on her own?

    Also, does Michigan have a “faithless elector” law? If Gary Johnson of Texas ran, and his electors voted for Gary Johnson of New Mexico, could they be fined or jailed? Does Michigan even put the state of the candidate on the ballot?

  43. 44 –

    Are you suggesting the incumbent president of the US and the standard bearer of the opposition party(ies) stand in front of 50 public library witnessing signatures?

  44. #46, no, Michigan doesn’t print the name of the candidate’s state of residence on its presidential ballot. But I am told Michigan does have a law requiring presidential electors to be “faithful”. But the law has no application to electors who don’t actually get elected to the electoral college.

  45. #47 Presidential electors would run from electoral districts (eg Vermont would be divided into 3 electoral districts; California into 55). 538 electoral districts in all.

    Individual elector candidates would have to collect 50 or 100 signatures. If they wanted the name of a presidential candidate to appear next to their name, the candidate would join them in collecting signatures.

    The presidential candidate could also do something useful like holding an umbrella.

  46. Pingback: Michigan Secretary of State Says She Won’t Print Gary Johnson’s Name on the November Ballot as a Libertarian | ThirdPartyPolitics.us

  47. # 46 and # 48
    MCL 168.45

    Marking a cross (X) or a check mark ( ) in the circle under the party name of a political party, at the general November election in a presidential year, shall not be considered and taken as a direct vote for the candidates of that political party for president and vice-president or either of them, but, as to the presidential vote, as a vote for the entire list or set of presidential electors chosen by that political party and certified to the secretary of state pursuant to this chapter.

    History: 1954, Act 116, Eff. June 1, 1955 ;– Am. 1985, Act 160, Imd. Eff. Nov. 20, 1985
    MCL 168.46
    As soon as practicable after the state board of canvassers has, by the official canvass, ascertained the result of an election as to electors of president and vice-president of the United States, the governor shall certify, under the seal of the state, to the United States secretary of state, the names and addresses of the electors of this state chosen as electors of president and vice-president of the United States. The governor shall also transmit to each elector chosen as an elector for president and vice-president of the United States a certificate, in triplicate, under the seal of the state, of his or her election.

    History: 1954, Act 116, Eff. June 1, 1955 ;– Am. 2002, Act 431, Imd. Eff. June 6, 2002

    MCL 168.47

    The electors of president and vice-president shall convene in the senate chamber at the capitol of the state at 2 p.m., eastern standard time, on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December following their election. At any time before receipt of the certificate of the governor or within 48 hours thereafter, an elector may resign by submitting his written and verified resignation to the governor. Failure to so resign signifies consent to serve and to cast his vote for the candidates for president and vice-president appearing on the Michigan ballot of the political party which nominated him. Refusal or failure to vote for the candidates for president and vice-president appearing on the Michigan ballot of the political party which nominated the elector constitutes a resignation from the office of elector, his vote shall not be recorded and the remaining electors shall forthwith fill the vacancy. The ballot used by the elector shall bear the name of the elector. If at the time of convening there is any vacancy caused by death, resignation, refusal or failure to vote, neglect to attend, or ineligibility of any person elected, or for any other cause, the qualified electors of president and vice-president shall proceed to fill such vacancy by ballot, by a plurality of votes. When all the electors appear and the vacancy shall be filled, they shall proceed to perform the duties of such electors, as required by the constitution and laws of the United States. If congress hereafter fixes a different day for such meeting, the electors shall meet and give their votes on the day designated by act of congress.

    History: 1954, Act 116, Eff. June 1, 1955 ;– Am. 1971, Act 172, Eff. Mar. 30, 1972
    Same sort of laws in ALL of the States.

    Reality – the Donkey/Elephant gangs pick their stooge robot Prez/VP electors — and one gang shows up and does their stooge robot voting — closely watched by the party hack gang leaders.

  48. Pingback: The Fear of Change: Gary Johnson and Third Parties

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