Ballot Access News is edited and published by Richard Winger, the nation's leading expert on ballot access legal issues.


British Columbia Newspaper Carries Op-Ed in Favor of Proportional Representation

The Nelson Star, a daily newspaper in British Columbia, has this op-ed advocating proportional representation for Canada. The author is Danette Moule of Fairvote Canada.


Alabama Legislature Passes Bill Moving Primary to an Earlier Date in March

On May 21, the Alabama House passed SB 240, which moves the primary for president and all other office to the first Tuesday in March. Existing law is the second Tuesday in March. Assuming the bill is signed, the 2016 primary will be March 1. The bill has the effect of making the petition deadline for newly-qualifying parties and non-presidential independent candidates also due on March 1, instead of March 8 as under the old law.


Ohio Libertarian Party Notifies U.S. District Court of New Revelation about Ohio Republican Party Involvement

On May 18, the Ohio Libertarian Party filed this supplemental brief in Libertarian Party of Ohio v Husted, the party’s ballot access case that is pending in U.S. District Court. The case involves the constitutionality of the 2013 Ohio ballot access laws for new and minor parties, and it also involves the constitutionality of the 2014 administrative ruling that kept the party’s gubernatorial nominee off the party’s primary ballot. The new brief brings up recent revelations that the Ohio Republican Party paid the legal costs of the individual who challenged the party’s primary petition.


Sixth Circuit Upholds Discriminatory Michigan Ballot Access Law

On May 20, the Sixth Circuit upheld the aspect of Michigan ballot access laws for new parties that requires newly-qualifying parties to submit approximately twice as many signatures as the number of votes needed for an established party to remain on the ballot. Erard v Michigan Secretary of State, 14-1873.

The decision is only eight pages and does not even mention the two precedents that say states cannot require more signatures for a new party than it requires votes for an old party. Those precedents are the U.S. Supreme Court decision Williams v Rhodes, and a 3-judge U.S. District Court decision from Massachusetts in 1972 called Baird v Davorem.

In Williams v Rhodes, the U.S. Supreme Court said that Ohio was violating the constitution by requiring a 15% (of the last gubernatorial vote) for new parties, but only a 10% vote for an old party to stay on the ballot In Baird v Davorem, the federal court in Massachusetts struck down Massachusetts law that required a 3% petition (of the last gubernatorial vote) for a new party’s nominees, but kept old parties on the ballot if they continued to receive one-tenth of 1% of the vote for Governor.

The Sixth Circuit wouldn’t even grant an oral argument in this case. The decision is per curiam and is signed by Judges R. Guy Cole and Ronald Gilman (Clinton appointees) and Jeffrey Sutton (a Bush Jr. appointee). The case had been filed by a pro se activist from the Socialist Party. Michigan and Kansas are the only two states in which the number of signatures for a new party to get on is greater than the number of votes for an old party to stay on. The Plaintiff, Matt Erard, will ask for reconsideration.


Indonesian Newspaper Carries Interesting Analysis of Advantages and Disadvantages of Proportional Representation

The Jakarta Post has this analysis of Britain’s electoral system, compared with Indonesia’s system. Indonesia uses proportional representation. The author is an Indonesian political scientist who works in Great Britain.


Fox News and CNN Announce Debate Criteria for First Two Republican Presidential Primary Debates

On May 20, Fox News announced the rules on who will be invited into the August 6, 2015 Republican presidential debate. Also on May 20, CNN announced the rules for the September 16 debate. The Republican National Committee had earlier decided not to set any rules, and to let the networks sponsoring the debates make the rules.

The August 6 Fox debate will invite the top ten candidates, as measured by polls. The CNN September 16 debates will be in two parts. One will be for the top ten candidates, as shown by polls. The other debate will be for those who weren’t included in the first debate but who are at least 1% in polls. See this story.

Earlier in the day, Newt Gingrich had said in a news interview that he believed the party should include all the candidates, even if that meant holding two debates, with candidates randomly put in one or the other. See this story.