On August 29, an official in the Alabama Secretary of State’s office telephoned Rocky De La Fuente and told him that even though he has enough valid signatures to be an independent presidential candidate, he cannot be on the November ballot because he ran in the March 2016 Democratic presidential primary. However, in 1992, Alabama let Lyndon LaRouche run in the general election in 1992 even though LaRouche had run in the Alabama 1992 Democratic presidential primary, and the law has not changed in any relevant way.
Back in 1992, the Alabama sore loser law, which was then 17-7-1(c), said “The probate judge is prohibited from causing to be printed on the ballot the name of any independent candidate who was a candidate in the primary election of that year.” Today, the sore loser law is in 17-9-3(b), and says, “The probate judge may not print on the ballot the name of any independent candidate who was a candidate in the primary election of that year and the name of any nominee of a political party who was a candidate for the nomination of a different political party in the primary election of that year.”
That change, which was made in 2006, makes no difference. The 2006 change only added the sore loser law to minor party candidates, but both LaRouche and De La Fuente are independent candidates, so as to them there is no difference between the old law and the new law. The Secretary of State’s office told De La Fuente that the law was amended in 2014, but the only amendment in 2014 was to move the petition deadline from September to August.
The reason that Alabama let LaRouche run in 1992 is that the office understood that the true candidates in a presidential primary are the candidates for Delegate, and the true candidates in November are the presidential elector candidates. Those groups of people are not the same group, so the sore loser law can’t apply. States that intend sore loser laws to apply to presidential primaries usually write their sore loser laws to make a specific mention of the presidential primary. The Alabama sore loser law existed before Alabama had presidential primaries; Alabama first had a presidential primary in 1980.