Study Shows How Georgia’s Ballot Access Law for U.S. House is Out of the National Mainstream

During the years 1970 through 2016, there have been 10,463 regularly-scheduled U.S. House elections (this includes Delegate from the District of Columbia for the years 1972-2016; there was no such election in D.C. in 1970). During those years, there have been 7,220 U.S. House candidates on the ballot who were not the nominees of the Democratic or Republican Parties.

The state with the fewest non-Democratic, non-Republican candidates on the ballot for U.S. House during those years has been Georgia. There has been only one individual, Billy McKinney (Cynthia McKinney’s father), who ever appeared on a regularly-scheduled Georgia ballot in the period 1970 to the present and who was not a Democratic or Republican nominee. He was able to qualify because the normal Georgia petitioning requirement was suspended the year he ran, 1982, in the two Atlanta districts, due to late redistricting.

Every other state has had at least twelve minor party or independent candidates for U.S. House on the ballot, during the period 1970-2016. The state with the most such candidates was California: 983 such candidates. This isn’t surprising, because California was the state with the most seats during that period.

Besides Georgia, the states with the fewest candidates have been: South Dakota 12, West Virginia 12, New Mexico 16, Montana 17, and North Dakota 17. The June 1, 2016 print issue of B.A.N. will contain a chart showing the number of candidates in each state, in each year 1970 through 2016.

The reason Georgia has had no candidates on the ballot (in years when its regular petition requirement was in effect) is that its requirement is so impossibly difficult. The law requires a petition of 5% of the number of registered voters. No one has complied with it since 1964. Back in 1964, when one independent, Milton Lent, did qualify, Georgia did not check the validity of such petitions, did not require petition sheets to be notarized, did not require the petitions until October, and there were no counties split by a congressional district boundary. The 1964 session of the legislature moved the deadline to an earlier date, imposed notarization, imposed petition validity checks, and changed the boundaries of the U.S. House districts to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s one person-one vote rulings so that counties had to be split.

Centrist Party Formed in Utah; Will Try to get on Ballot By End of May

The United Utah Party has organized and is hoping to get on the ballot by the end of May 2017. See this story. If it does so, presumably it can participate in the upcoming special U.S. House election. There is probably a substantially overlap between the people who formed this party, and the people who backed Evan McMullin’s presidential campaign last year. The party needs 2,000 valid signatures. Thanks to Political Wire for the link.

New York Senate Makes Peculiar Decision on Which Committees Handle Two Election Law Bills

As already noted, the New York Assembly recently passed two important election law bills. AB 2064 authorizes early voting (also called “no excuse absentee voting”). AB 3052 moves the independent candidate petition deadline from August to May, and moves the primary for state and local office from September to June.

Although the Assembly passed both bills on the same day, the Senate is treating the two bills differently. AB 2064 has been sent to the Senate Elections Committee, but AB 3052 was sent to the Veterans, Homeland Security & Military Affairs Committee.

Level the Playing Field Debates Case Returns to Court

Two lawsuits are currently pending to force the Commission on Presidential Debates to ease its rules on who can participate in general election presidential debates. One of those cases, Level the Playing Field v Federal Election Commission, charges that the FEC has a duty to enforce federal campaign finance law, and that this means the FEC must tell the Commission to change its policy. The other co-plaintiffs in this case are Peter Ackerman, the Green Party, and the Libertarian Party.

In February 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan had ruled that the FEC had not done a good job of evaluating the evidence, and she ordered the FEC to try again. In March the FEC had reconsidered the evidence, but had stuck to its original position that the Commission is not breaking federal campaign law. Plaintiffs feel that new FEC determination, like the original one, is arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law.

On May 22, Judge Chutkan ruled that the plaintiffs can supplement their original complaint to argue that the new FEC determination is incorrect. This saves the plaintiffs from having to file an entirely new lawsuit. After the supplemental complaint is filed, the FEC will have 60 days to respond. The FEC agrees that it is proper in this case to allow a supplemental complaint instead of requiring an entirely new lawsuit. Thanks to Shawn Griffiths for this news.