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


New Hampshire May Force Senator Bernie Sanders to Say he is a Democrat in Order to Appear on the Primary Ballot

New Hampshire election law says anyone can be on a presidential primary ballot who pays a fee of $1,000 and fills out a Declaration of Candidacy. However, the Declaration of Candidacy since 1983 has said, “I am a registered member of the (fill in the blank) party.”

The literal language of the New Hampshire requirement that the candidate be a registered member of the party has never been applied, because 20 states don’t have registration by party. Walter Mondale, the Democratic nominee in 1984, was not a registered Democrat because Minnesota has never had registration by party (and, if it did, Mondale would have been a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party). Bill Clinton was not a registered Democrat for the same reasons; neither was Al Gore. Among Republicans, neither George H. W. Bush nor George W. Bush was a registered Republican because Texas doesn’t have registration by party.

So, in practice, the affidavit doesn’t mean what it says; what it does mean is that the candidate must hold himself out as a member of the party. See this story. It will be interesting to see how Senator Bernie Sanders handles this situation. Even though he has announced that he intends to run in Democratic presidential primaries, he has not said that he a Democrat, and he lists himself in the Congressional Directory as an independent. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the link.


Free Talk and Dramatization on the American Labor Party at New York City Library

On Monday, May 4, between 5 pm and 7 pm, a free lecture and dramatization will be presented at a New York city public library, on the history of the American Labor Party 1936-1955. See this web page for more information about the event, which is at 10 Jersey Street, Manhattan, between Mulberry Street and Lafayette Street. Thanks to Gerald Meyer for this news.


Florida Legislature Passes Bill for On-Line Voter Registration

On April 29, the Florida legislature passed SB 228 Committee Substitute, which lets individuals register to vote on-line. Here is the text of the bill. The process is entirely electronic for applicants who already have a Florida drivers license or state I.D. card. If the individual does not, then the system prompts the applicant to print out a form, sign it, and mail it in.

The Secretary of State, Ken Detzler, is opposed to the bill. Detzler is appointed by the Governor, Rick Scott. It is not known if the Governor will sign the bill. The bill passed overwhelmingly in both houses of the legislature.


Washington Special Legislative Session Opens; Special Session May Pass Presidential Primary Bill

The regular session of the Washington legislature ended earlier, with no legislation passing that would revive the 2016 presidential primary. But a special session opened on April 29, and on that first day of the session, the Senate again passed SB 5978, which would create a March primary. It is not very likely that the House will pass the bill, but it is possible. Thanks to Josh Putnam for this news.


California Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Minor Party Lawsuit Against the Top-Two System

On April 29, the California Supreme Court refused to hear Rubin v Padilla, the case filed by three of California’s minor parties that charges the top-two system injures voting rights in the general election. It is conceivable that the case will now be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Illinois Initiative for Nonpartisan Legislative Districting

Reboot Illinois is about to launch a petition drive to place an initiative on the November 2016 ballot that would set up a nonpartisan commission to draw legislative district boundaries. See this story. The group tried in 2014 but did not get enough signatures. The Constitution requires approximately 290,000 valid signatures. The group will attempt to collect 600,000. The proposed initiative would only concern legislative districts, not U.S. House districts.