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


Maine Secretary of State Denies Libertarian Party’s Ballot Access

On December 9, the Maine Secretary of State said the Libertarian Party is not a qualified party. The law says a new party can qualify by having at least 5,000 registered members by December 1 of the odd year before the election. The Libertarian Party submitted approximately 6,400 registration cards, but election officials only processed 4,489 by December 1. There are enough unprocessed registration cards to put the party over the 5,000 requirement, but the Secretary of State says they don’t count because they haven’t yet been processed.

It is extremely likely that the December 1 deadline is unconstitutionally early. Courts have struck down early petition or registration deadlines for a group to qualify for party status in Alabama (April was too early), Arkansas (January was too early), California (January was too early), Idaho (May was too early), Nebraska (February was too early), Nevada (April was too early), New Mexico (April was too early), Ohio (November of the year before the election was too early), South Dakota (February was too early), and Tennessee (April was too early). All of those were procedures to qualify a party, not procedures for candidates.

In addition, deadlines for procedures for candidates to qualify for the general election ballot were struck down in many other states, including Maine. A US District Court invalidated Maine’s non-presidential independent candidate petition deadline of April in Stoddard v Quinn, in 1984.

The earliest deadline for a new party to qualify that was upheld was the Alabama March deadline, but the reason it was upheld was that Alabama had its primary for all office in March. In the past, when Alabama had a June primary for all office, the April petition deadline was held unconstitutional. The Maine primary is June 14, 2016.


California Commentator Joe Mathews Publishes Article in Favor of Proportional Representation for Legislature

Joe Mathews has this piece, advocating proportional representation for the California legislature. Mathews lives in southern California and comments frequently on politics and govenment.


Israeli Leader Says He Will Meet with Any U.S. Presidential Candidate who Visits Israel and Request to See Him

According to this story, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will meet with any U.S. presidential candidate who visits Israel and requests a meeting with him. Donald Trump will be meeting Netanyahu in Israel on December 28.


Sixth Circuit Says It Can’t Now Put Libertarian Party on Ohio Ballot Because of Procedural Problems

On December 9, the Sixth Circuit issued a three-page order in Libertarian Party of Ohio v Husted, 15-4270. The party had asked the Sixth Circuit for an injunction, putting it on the ballot for the 2016 election. The grounds (in the Sixth Circuit) are that the 2013 ballot access law violates the State Constitution.

The Sixth Circuit says it has no jurisdiction in this case now. The U.S. District Court still hasn’t ruled on another argument in the case, that Ohio applied its campaign finance laws in 2014 in a discriminatory fashion to block ballot access. The Sixth Circuit order says the party must wait for the U.S. District Court to rule.


Working Families Party Announces Results of its Internet Poll on Who Should be the Democratic Nominee

On November 30, the Working Families Party set up a webpage to let anyone who visits that web page vote on whether the WFP should endorse Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, or Martin O’Malley. The voting was to continue for a week.

On December 8, the party announced the results. Sanders easily won, with 87% of the total vote. The WFP will now do what it can to help Sanders become the Democratic nominee. This is the first time the WFP has made a presidential endorsement before the Democratic Party chose a nominee. See this New York Times story. Thanks to Darryl Perry for this news.


Tucson Republican City Council Candidates Lose Lawsuit to be Declared the Winners

On December 7, a state trial court in Arizona upheld the November 2015 Tucson election returns for city council. See this story. Republican nominees in two districts had argued they should be seated. Tucson has partisan elections, in which nominations are made inside each ward, but then the nominees run citywide. The Ninth Circuit had invalidated that system last month, but the new ruling says despite the Ninth Circuit ruling, that is no reason to invalidate the election. A rehearing is pending in the Ninth Circuit.