Philadelphia Inquirer Story on Bills Limiting Ballot Access for Presidential Candidates who don’t Release Income Tax Returns

Bills are pending in 17 states to bar presidential candidates from the ballot unless they release their income tax returns. This Philadelphia Inquirer story focuses on the New Jersey bill, but gives information about the bills in other states as well.

The true candidates in November are the candidates for presidential elector. States are free to set up their own qualifications for presidential elector candidates, but historically states have not been free to set up qualifications for presidential candidates other than those mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. For example, in 1992 the Texas Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Lyndon LaRouche could not be kept off the Democratic presidential primary ballot even though he was a felon. That case was LaRouche v Hannah, 822 SW 2d 632. If states want these proposed laws to stand up to constitutional scrutiny, these laws need to address presidential elector candidates, and need to say that presidential elector candidates will not be allowed to run unless they are pledged to individuals who have released their tax returns.

And even if these bills are written to deal with the presidential electors, there remains the issue of whether presidential electors are free to vote for anyone in the electoral college, notwithstanding any prior pledge that elector candidate may have made. This is why the four lawsuits pending on “faithless” presidential elector candidates are so important. They are pending in U.S. District Court in California, Colorado, and Washington, and in the Eighth Circuit in Minnesota. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the link.

UPDATE: the bills are Arizona SB 1500; California SB 149; Connecticut HB 6574 & 6575; Hawaii SB 150; Illinois SB 762, SB 982, and HB 780; Iowa SB 159; Kansas HB 2303; Maryland SB 358 and HB 517; Minnesota SB 358, SB 759, HB 634, and HB 704; New Jersey AB 4520; New Mexico SB 118; New York SB 26 and AB 4072; Pennsylvania SB 247 and HB 222; Rhode Island SB 91 and HB 5400; Tennessee HB 1127 and SB 588; Vermont HB 243 and SB 77; and Virginia HB 2444. Thanks to the National Conference of State Legislatures for that list.


Philadelphia Inquirer Story on Bills Limiting Ballot Access for Presidential Candidates who don’t Release Income Tax Returns — 1 Comment

  1. If the presidential electors were the true candidates wouldn’t their names appear on the ballot?

    California should elect its presidential electors by congressional district using Top 2, plus one from pairs of SBOE districts. They could be elected using Top 2. In addition to the occupational designation and party preference, an elector candidate could, with the permission of the presidential candidate he supports, have that name appear on the ballot:

    Joe Elector
    Procrastinator, Prefers Tomorrow Party, Supports Harold Stassen

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