Arizona House Passes Bill to Bind Presidential Electors

On February 16, the Arizona House passed HB 2302 by a vote of 34-24. It says that any presidential elector who fails to vote for the presidential candidate who received the most votes in November is deemed to have resigned. It says the chair of that elector’s political party has the ability to replace that elector. The bill makes no provision for the possibility that an independent presidential candidate might conceivably carry Arizona. If the bill passes, one wonders if the state chair of the major political party that carries Arizona will be expected to sit in when the state’s electors vote, so that he or she would be available to choose another elector.

South Dakota Ballot Access Bill Signed into Law

On February 23, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed HB 1037. It lets independent candidates for President choose a stand-in vice-presidential running mate; it does the same for independent gubernatorial candidates, relative to Lieutenant Governor.

The bill also moves the petition to qualify a new party from March to July, but only for parties that are willing to forego running anyone in their first year on the ballot for Governor, Congress or state legislature. The Libertarian and Constitution Parties have a lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court. If it wins, new parties that submit petitions by July would be allowed to nominate for all office, not just some offices.

Arkansas Government Files Brief in Support of Law Requiring New Parties To Choose Nominees a Year Before Election

On February 24, attorneys for the Arkansas Secretary of State filed this reply brief, arguing that it is constitutional for Arkansas to require newly-qualifying parties to choose all their nominees (except President) an entire year before the election. Libertarian Party of Arkansas v Martin, 16-3794.

It is somewhat surprising that the state made this effort, given that the legislature passed a bill on February 22, changing the law that caused the lawsuit. The bill allows new parties to nominate as late as the date of the May primary. HB 1532 hasn’t been signed yet by the Governor, but it seems very likely that he will sign it. Only two legislators voted against it. One would have thought the state would have asked the court for more time to file this brief, to see if the Governor’s signature on the bill will make the lawsuit appeal moot.

Colorado and Minnesota State Governments Try to Short-Circuit Lawsuits Filed by Certain Presidential Electors

As reported last year, four federal lawsuits are pending over whether presidential electors have a constitutional right to make a free decision as to whom to vote for in the electoral college. The governments of Colorado and Minnesota are trying to get the lawsuits in their states dismissed before the constitutional issue is decided, but the electors are fighting back.

Here is the 17-page brief filed on February 24 by Colorado Democratic electors Polly Baca and Robert Nemanich, setting forth why their case should not be dismissed, and also why they should prevail. The case is Baca v Hickenlooper, 1:16cv-2986.

In Minnesota, a Democratic presidential elector filed a brief in the Eighth Circuit on February 17, arguing that the U.S. District Court was wrong to dismiss his lawsuit on the grounds of laches (instead of merely denying injunctive relief), and asking that the Eighth Circuit remand the case back to the U.S. District Court for a decision on the constitutionality of the Minnesota law that unseated him after he voted the “wrong” way. That case is Abdurrahman v Dayton, 16-4551.

Washington State Electors Who Refused to Vote for Hillary Clinton Appeal Their Fine, Using a State Administrative Process

Last year, the Washington Secretary of State fined P. Bret Chiafalo and Levi Guerra $1,000 each, because even though they were Democratic Party presidential electors, they didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in the electoral college. The two electors are contesting the validity of the fine in federal court. But they are also contesting it in a state Administrative Law appeal. The state administrative hearing is open to the public, and will be held at 9 a.m., Friday, March 3, in Tacoma.