On March 17, attorneys for Alabama filed this 70-page brief with the Eleventh Circuit in Stein v Secretary of State of Alabama, 13-15556. The brief discusses the state interest in the March deadline starting on page 58. The state says it wouldn’t be fair to the two major parties if newly-qualifying parties could file their petitions after the March primary. Also the state says that the number of signatures is so large, that if the state had a later deadline, it would have trouble verifying all the signatures.
The obvious response is that if the state didn’t require 44,829 valid signatures, the burden on the state from checking the signatures would not be great. Alabama lets independent presidential candidates on the ballot if they file a petition by late summer, containing 5,000 signatures. In 2012, only three such petitions were received, from Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and Virgil Goode. It is logical to assume, then, that if the state only required 5,000 signtures for newly-qualifying parties, only the three parties that successfully petitioned for their presidential candidates would have submitted statewide petitions. So the state would not have needed to check any independent presidential petitions, and the burden of checking three party petitions would have been no greater than the burden the state actually experienced.