Arizona Green Party Files Lawsuit Against February 28 Petition Deadline for Newly-Qualifying Parties

On February 25, the Arizona Green Party filed a federal lawsuit against the February 28 petition deadline for newly-qualifying parties. The case is Arizona Green Party v Bennett, 2:14cv-375.

There are no reported precedents that have ever upheld a petition deadline for a newly-qualifying party earlier than April. The Arizona Green Party has been working very hard on its petition to get back on the ballot, but it needs another few weeks to finish. The requirement is 23,041 valid signatures.

The original Arizona ballot access law, passed in 1891 when Arizona was still a territory, had a deadline of 20 days before the general election for newly-qualifying parties. In 1909, when the territory instituted primaries, the deadline was moved to 30 days before the September primary. In 1970 the deadline was advanced to 60 days before the primary. In 1979 the deadline was advanced to 115 days before the primary. In 2000 it was advanced to 180 days before the primary. In 2009 the primary was moved from early September to late August.

Thus, over the past century, the deadline has moved from October, to August, to July, to May, to March, to February. If the current deadline had been in effect in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive Party could not have been on the Arizona ballot. If the current deadline had been in effect in 1854, the Republican Party, which was formed on July 6, 1854, could not have been on the ballot.


Arizona Green Party Files Lawsuit Against February 28 Petition Deadline for Newly-Qualifying Parties — No Comments

  1. The Arizona Green Party is also very good at petitioning. In fact, for volunteer petitioning, I would say the Arizona Green Party is the best state Green Party in the U.S.

    Kyrstem Sinema, who is now a Democratic member of Congress, got her start in politics as a Green. One function of minor parties that political scientists and reporters never seem to notice is that they provide a training ground. Many people get into politics thru minor party activity, and then, their confidence and skills bolstered, switch to one of the major parties.

  2. Arizona should have adopted Top 2, which would have eliminated the need for party qualification in order to run for office. Embrace the paradigm.

    In 1854, there were no government printed ballots and so anyone was free to run as a “Republican” or some other name. Remember that very few candidates actually ran as “Republican” that year.

    It is a fact – that it is the implementation of the partisan primary that is the immediate direct cause of earlier and earlier qualification dates.

  3. So basically you’re saying they are like the minor leagues, mostly good for training the pros. I guess that’s a worthy goal.

    I was just thinking that this is about the fourth or fifth case styled “Arizona Green Party v. Bennett.”

    In any case (pun intended), you don’t state the basis for the party’s lawsuit or whether this is in state or federal court, and the party’s website’s last posting is over a month old, so it’s hard to tell what’s going on here.
    Did the February deadline come as surprise, or is it being challenged on due process or equal protection grounds?

    According to the national Green Party ballot status page:
    “The criteria for qualification in Arizona is to achieve a certain number of petition signatures, based upon turnout in the state’s preceding gubernatorial election. In 2010, that number of petition signatures was 20,449.

    On March 11th, the AZGP turned in 29,015 signatures, and a sufficient number were valid to qualify the party for ballot status.

    This followed a February 2010 lawsuit victory, in which Federal Court Judge Susan Bolton ruled to prohibit the Arizona Secretary of State from refusing petitions circulated by nonresident supporters of the Arizona Green Party. At the same time, she restored the March 11 deadline, voiding an earlier published February 25 substitute, as Arizona had changed the date for the primaries in the middle of the election cycle. The lawsuit Green Party v Bennett, was originally filed on November 18th, 2009.”

    Is this suit based upon the same grounds?

  4. The basis for all constitutional lawsuits against early petition deadlines is the First Amendment. Anderson v Celebrezze is the seminal US Supreme Court decision on why early petition deadlines violate freedom of association. The decision cites historian Alexander Bickel for its observations that a free political system requires that candidates and parties have the freedom enter the race as late as the middle of election years.

    Early petition deadlines have been declared unconstitutional in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee.

  5. 1. Each election is NEW – regardless of ALL MORON lawyers and judges.

    i.e. EQUAL ballot access tests for ALL candidates for the same office in the same election area.

    2. Will the New Age deadline be 2 days or less after the prior general election day ???

    3. Ballot access stuff has ZERO to do with the 1st Amdt – one more PERVERSION of the Constitution by the usual suspect activist legislative judges since 1968.

  6. Partisan primaries have extended the political year.

    The filing deadline for the primary is 90 days before the primary. This could be compressed some, but ballots have to be mailed 45 days before the primary. To verify petitions and prepare ballots might reasonably take 30 days.

    The filing period for the primary is 30 days. If the qualification petition were delayed, then you would be interfering with candidates who might choose to run in the Green Primary.

    Eliminate the partisan primary, and there would be no need for party qualification. Move the primary back to September and trim a bit of the time off, and you have a late June, early July filing deadline.

  7. Do you really mean the same or a similar Top Two as the Californian Top Two system which has nearly shut out third parties from being able to participate in that state’s general elections? Top Two would only work if voters were similar in character as those who voted before the Cold War began, that is, voters actually willing to vote for third party candidates in numbers large enough to result in some being elected to office. Unless, of course, the intention of those implementing it IS to shut out third parties. Then heck, it works quite well indeed in this day and age.

  8. Arizona is free to provide that newly-qualifying parties nominate by convention. Or to provide two different deadlines, an early one for new parties that want a primary, and a later deadline for new parties that are willing to nominate by convention. Most states provide that newly-qualifying parties nominate by convention.

  9. Proposition 121 (in Arizona) stated:

    “Voters shall be permitted to state their party preference (if any) in their own words on their voter registration form, and shall not be limited to selecting from a list of recognized parties or affiliations.”


    “At the time they file to run for public office, every candidate shall have the choice to declare his or party preference (if any) as it is stated on their voter registration form.”


    So a voter in 1854 could have changed his voter registration to “Republican”, and would not have been limited to “Democratic” or “Whig”, and then run for Congress as preferring the Republicans. The same would have been possible in 1912, he wanted to be a “Progressive”.

    California voters actually approved the same system with Proposition 14 and SB 6, but Debra Orwell Bowen misinterpreted the clear language of the law.

    California voters have always been permitted to register with non-qualified parties. The SOS actually sent a directive to county election officials just before the 2010 election where Proposition 14 was approved, emphasizing the distinction between voters affiliated with nonqualified parties, and voters who Declined To State (DTS) a party affiliation.

    SB 6 said that a candidate could use the party preference on their voter registration, or leave a blank space. Bowen misinterpreted the law, and in doing so violates the 1st Amendment.

  10. Arizona is also free to provide that all parties nominate by primary.

    Arizona is also free to eliminate partisan nominations altogether, and eliminate all the inherent entanglement of the state and parties that this brings.

    Recall the closing arguments in ‘Foster v Love’. Louisiana’s Top 2 system was like that used in 1872 and 1854.

  11. What about early petitioning deadlines for qualified party candidates? Maine requires signatures to be submitted to the Secretary of State by March 17 at 5pm, which is extremely early in my opinion. Have there been any cases striking down such a deadline?

  12. In 1984 a US District Court struck down Maine’s old law, which said that non-presidential candidates had to file on the same day that primary candidates file. So Maine extended the independent petition deadline to June. Maine lets independent candidates choose a partisan label other than just “independent”. So in that way new parties can get on the Maine general election ballot with a deadline in June.

  13. The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed at the end of the 1st Session of 33rd Congress. Under a modern election calendar that would late be in odd-numbered year. Plenty of time for the Republican Party to organize and have a candidate file by a May 28 deadline in the following even year.

    Alternatively, Arizona, like most Southern states, will hold its election in the odd year (1855), and there would be plenty of time for the Republican Party to file (but recall that there were no Republican and no Whig candidates in 1855, even though around 1/3 of representatives were elected in that year).

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