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


Oral Argument Set in One of the Illinois Ballot Access Lawsuits

U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. Reagan will hold oral arguments in Tripp v Smart on October 5, 2015, at 9 a.m. This is a Green Party case against several Illinois ballot access laws, including the requirement that each petition sheet be notarized. This case is in the southern district and will be argued in East St. Louis.

Two other Illinois constitutional ballot access cases are pending. The Libertarian Party’s lawsuit against the requirement that newly-qualifying parties must run a full slate was filed in 2012, and has never had a ruling on declaratory relief. It is assigned to a new U.S. District Court Judge who has six times promised a ruling by a certain date, but has never actually issued a ruling.

Also, the Green Party has another case, in Chicago, Lopez v Smart. It challenges the full slate law also. It has a status conference on September 8 before U.S. District Court Judge John Robert Blakey.


TIME Magazine Says it Costs $20 Million to Get an Independent Presidential Candidate on the Ballot in All States

TIME Magazine’s August 24, 2015 issue has a story, “The Knives Come Out for Donald Trump, but he’s not going anywhere.” It says, “Mounting an independent campaign would require Trump to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures to get on ballots in 50 states, which would mean an investment of at least double the more than $10 million Trump has earmarked for his candidacy.” Thanks to Oliver Hall for this news.


Canada News Story Explains How Political Parties get Recognized under Canada Law, and Lists all Qualified Parties

This interesting Canada news story explains how political parties become registered with the government. The procedure is quite easy, and there are several dozen parties. Candidates for House of Commons get on the ballot by collecting 100 signatures and paying a filing fee of $1,000, part of which is refunded if they follow campaign finance laws and the remainder of which is refunded if the candidate polls a certain share of the vote.

Party names are printed on the ballot only for parties that are recognized. Thanks to Nathan Hetzel for the link.


California Bill Setting Up Rules for Green Party Presidential Primary Moves Ahead

On August 27, California AB 477 passed the Senate Appropriations Committee, and will probably receive a vote on the Senate floor soon. The original bill that had passed the Assembly on May 14 only dealt with procedures concerning voters who vote by mail and who forget to sign the outer envelope. The original bill had nothing to do with the Green Party.

On July 1, the bill was amended in the Senate to add Green Party primary rules to the election code. California is the only state in which the internal rules governing particular qualified parties are included in the election code. In the 1950’s, code sections for particular parties were created, but they didn’t name any particular parties. There were just rules for parties above a certain number of registered voters, and rules for parties below a certain number of registrants. One set of rules was intended for the Democratic Party, and the other set of rules was intended for the smaller Republican Party and the much smaller Prohibition Party, at the time the only other qualified party.

But that system didn’t work very well, because as California grew, the number of registered Republicans grew also, and the Republican Party, having gained so many registrants that it crossed the threshold meant to separate its code section from the Democratic section, would suddenly be required to operate under the rules meant for the Democratic Party, creating chaos for the Republican Party. Finally the legislature decided to delete the number of registered voters separating the categories, and instead passed sections specifically named “Democratic Party rules” and “Republican Party rules.”

In 1975 the legislature added code sections for the American Independent and the Peace & Freedom Parties, which had been been ballot-qualified starting in 1968. The Libertarian Party qualified in 1980 but the legislature defeated a bill to set up Libertarian Party rules, so the Libertarian Party operates under the Peace & Freedom rules. Later the Green, Natural Law, Reform, and Americans Elect Parties qualified, but the legislature didn’t add procedures for them either, so they used the Peace & Freedom rules (Natural Law, Reform, and Americans Elect are no longer qualified). For many years the Green Party has been trying to get its own preferred rules into the election code, and now it is finally likely to succeed. Thanks to Chad Peace for making me aware of AB 477.


Former New York State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk Files Paperwork Listing Herself as State Chair of Women’s Equality Party

Former New York State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk has filed a list of party officers and bylaws for the Women’s Equality Party of New York, listing herself as state chair. She was a Democratic State Senator for two years, 2013-2015. Here is a link to her filing. Here is a link to the wikipedia page about her.

The New York Women’s Equality Party already has a rival set of party officers. The party became ballot-qualified in November 2014 by polling over 50,000 votes for Governor, for its nominee, Andrew Cuomo, who was also the Democratic, Working Families, and Independence Party nominee. In New York, when a group becomes a fully-qualified party by polling over 50,000 votes, its statewide nominees are given the power to determine the identity of the new party’s officers. Governor Cuomo and his Lieutenant Governor running mate then signed papers choosing someone else as state chair of the Women’s Equality Party, but the other two statewide nominees did not sign that paperwork. State law says it is supposed to be signed by a majority of the statewide nominees. Therefore, the original filing is legally flawed.

Tkaczyk will sue to establish her claim to be state chair. The original chair is a registered Democrat and plans to remain a Democrat. By contrast, Tkaczyk has filled out a voter registration form listing herself as a member of the Women’s Equality Party. Thanks to Michael Drucker for the link.


Nielsen Merksamer, Law Firm That Always Intervenes in Lawsuits over California Top-Two, Asks U.S. Supreme Court Not to Hear Top-Two Case

Nielsen Merksamer, the California law firm that always intervenes in cases having anything to do with California’s top-two has asked the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear Rubin v Padilla. Rubin v Padilla is the minor party lawsuit that argues the top-two system injures voting rights in the general election.

The Nielsen Merksamer brief says, in a nutshell, that voters have no right of choice in a general election other than just two candidates. It says voters who don’t like their limited choices in November should have voted in June. Of course, not all voters could have done that. Some will have attained age 18 after the primary is over, some will be newly naturalized citizens who had not been naturalized at the time of the primary, and some will have moved into California too late for the primary.

The Nielsen Merksamer brief highlights the minority of court decisions that have upheld independent candidate petition deadlines in the spring, but does not mention the far more numerous lawsuits that have struck down early deadlines. The brief also says that in Lawrence v Blackwell, an Ohio case that upheld the non-presidential independent deadline, “all candidates were subject to the same deadline.” This is factually incorrect. The Ohio law provided that primary candidates had to file 60 days before the primary, but independent candidates had to file on the day before the primary.