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


U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Appeal by Kansas and Arizona Over Voter Registration Forms

On June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Kobach v U.S. Election Assistance Commission, 14-3062. The case had been filed by the states of Kansas and Arizona over the federal voter registration forms. Kansas and Arizona wanted to alter the federal forms (that were to be used in those two states) to require applicants to attach proof of citizenship. The Tenth Circuit on November 7, 2014, had ruled that the federal agency responsible for the forms had already held exhaustive fact-finding hearings and had determined that there is no need to amend the forms. The federal agency had determined that the existing form already has enough guarantees against non-citizens using the forms.

The Kansas Secretary of State, who has been a zealot against the federal form, will now probably proceed with plans already underway in Kansas to say that the federal form only registers individuals for the purpose of voting in federal elections, not state and local ones, although that proposed policy may result in new litigation. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the news.


Senator Ted Cruz Proposes National Retention Elections for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Every Eight Years

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) here says he will introduce a constitutional amendment to provide that the voters of the nation could vote to retain or reject U.S. Supreme Court Justices every eight years.

This is a revolutionary idea. The United States has never held a national election. All elections in U.S. history have always been statewide, or lesser geographical units, never national. In presidential elections, each state’s voters choose presidential electors for that state; there is no single election for President in a technical sense. The United States has never had a national referendum or a national advisory vote.

In order to hold a retention election for U.S. Supreme Court justices, one presumes there would need to be a national election law determining voter qualifications. Currently voter qualifications are determined by each state, even for federal office. That is why ex-felons can’t vote in some states but they can vote in other states. That is why 17-year-olds can vote in federal primaries in some states but not other states. It will be interesting to see if Senator Cruz’s constitutional amendment proposes a uniform rule on who is eligible to vote. It would also be interesting to see what the campaign finance rules would be for members of the Court, if they had to run in retention elections. Recently the Court upheld a Florida rule barring state court judges, or candidates for a state judicial office, from asking for campaign contributions.

It is likely that all members of the U.S. Supreme Court would look on this proposed amendment with disdain. And it is not difficult to imagine that many voters who views are utterly different from Senator Cruz would still support his amendment. Thanks to PoliticalWire for the link.


Virginia Republican Party Will Keep its Presidential Primary in 2016

On June 27, the Virginia Republican Party decided to use a presidential primary, rather than a caucus, in 2016. The vote was 42-39. The party also decided to use a convention instead of a primary for the statewide executive positions that are up in 2017. Those positions are Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. See this story. The 2016 primary will be on March 1.


Sixth Circuit Expedites Case on Whether Judicial Candidates May Raise Money Earlier than Four Months Before Primary

On June 25, the Sixth Circuit expedited O’Toole v O’Connor, 15-3614. The case had been filed by Colleen O’Toole, who is running for Ohio State Supreme Court Justice in the March 2016 Republican primary. Ohio elects State Supreme Court Justices with partisan elections, although party labels are not printed on the general election ballot. Ohio law does not let candidates for this office raise campaign contributions until four months before the primary.

On June 3, the U.S. District Court had refused to enjoin that restriction. O’Toole has almost no money in her campaign treasury and the incumbents she will be running against have hundreds of thousands of dollars in their campaign treasuries, mostly money that was raised in past campaigns and not spent. The U.S. District Court Judge had refused to enjoin the law because he believes the state has an interest in restricting judges and their campaign committees from raising money during most time periods because it seems unseemly for judges to be raising money.


Free & Equal Announces Mass Rally/Festival Location and Date

Free & Equal will hold a rally/festival at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles on September 19, 2015, between 5 pm and 10 pm. Free & Equal held a similar event at the same location last year. The event always attracts a big audience and aims to get youth interested in running for office, voting, other forms of political activism. Free & Equal uses its events to increase public awareness of flaws in the U.S. election process. See here for more information. Free & Equal hosted the only televised general election presidential debates in 2012 that included candidates other than the Democratic and Republican nominees.


Two Prominent News Sources Carry Articles About Jill Stein

The Nation has this article about Jill Stein, which includes quotes from her.

Here is an article about Stein at ThinkProgess.