The Hill Carries Unusually Comprehensive History of Commission on Presidential Debates’ Past Hostility to Minor Party Presidential Candidates

The Hill has this article by Tom Squitieri, on the behavior of the Commission on Presidential Debates in recent past elections. Although there is a great deal of commentary about this, most other articles do not bring up the 2000 incident when guards at one of the presidential debates were furnished with pictures of all the minor party presidential and vice-presidential candidates. The guards were instructed to memorize the appearance of these individuals and bar them from the audience if they showed up.

The story also relates the 2012 incident when Jill Stein was arrested and kept in handcuffs for hours, for attempting to be in the audience at one of the debates.

U.S. District Court Sets August 30 Hearing on Republican U.S. House Primary Re-Do

U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Scullin will hold a hearing on Tuesday, August 30, in Pidot v New York State Board of Elections, n.d., 1:16cv-859. The judge had already ruled on August 17 that the Republican Party primary for U.S. House, 3rd district, should be done over again, on October 6.

Two Republicans had filed to be on the June 2016 primary ballot in that race, but one of them was left off the ballot because it was erroneously thought he didn’t have enough valid signatures. The candidate who was omitted, Philip Pidot, then sued and won a right for a new primary with his name on the ballot. But now the other Republican, Jack Martins, wants the general election for that district postponed to December 6. The new hearing is to resolve that request.

Minnesota Secretary of State Has Already Determined that Three Presidential Petitions as Valid

The Minnesota petition deadline for independent presidential candidates, and the nominees of unqualified parties, is Tuesday, August 23. Already the Secretary of State has acknowledged that three petitions are valid: Socialist Workers, Green, and Legal Marijuana Now. See the state’s list here.

The only ballot-qualified parties in Minnesota are Republican and Democratic. Thanks to Rick Lass for the link.

Top-Two Systems in California and Washington in 2016 Bar All Minor Party Candidates from November Ballot, Except in Races with Just Two Candidates in Primary

The top-two systems used in California and Washington have again barred all minor party candidates from the November ballot, except the minor party candidates who ran in races with only one major party candidate on the ballot. “Major party candidate” in this context means a Democrat or a Republican.

Use this link to the California election returns for the June 8, 2016 primary. Use this link to the Washington election returns for the August 2, 2016 primary.

In California in 2016 (excluding the presidential primary), there were fourteen minor party candidates on a primary ballot for partisan office: nine Libertarians, two Greens, two Peace & Freedom members, and one member of the American Independent Party. None of those were in races with only one or two candidates on the primary ballot, and none of them qualified for the November ballot.

However, there were five California Libertarians running for the legislature who will advance to the November ballot, because in all five races only one name was printed in the primary ballot. The five Libertarians will be on the November ballot, with their party label, in the 33rd State Senate district, and for the Assembly in the 1st, 2nd, 51st, and 62nd districts. None of the five Libertarians’ names were on the primary ballot; in all five instances they were write-in candidates in the primary.

In Washington in 2016, there were thirty-three minor party candidates on a primary ballot for federal or state office: 29 Libertarians, one Green, one Socialist Workers, one Fifth Republic Party, and one Citizens Party. Of these thirty-three candidates, eleven ran in races with only two names on the primary ballot, so of course all eleven of them qualified for the November ballot. All eleven of these are Libertarians. The Washington Libertarian Party did an excellent job of predicting which races would only have one other name on the primary ballot, and then recruiting a candidate for such races. One of those races is the Attorney General’s race, where the only other candidate who filed is a Democrat.

Washington does not draw a clear line between independent candidates and minor party candidates, because there is no party registration, and any candidate can have any short label on the ballot that is not obscene. It would be possible for an argument to be made that my tally of 33 minor party candidates is too low. To differentiate between minor party candidates and independent candidates with a political label, I talked to some of the candidates, or looked at their web pages, or their statements in the Voters Guide, to try to differentiate actual minor parties from independents with a label. But even if my classification is wrong, the conclusion is the same; none of the candidates with an ambiguous label qualified for the November ballot.

Eight Presidential Candidates Submit Petitions in Iowa

The Iowa deadline for petitions for independent candidates, and the nominees of unqualified parties, is August 19. Eight petitions were submitted for President:

1. Darrell Castle, Constitution Party
2. Jill Stein, Green Party
3. Dan R. Vacek, Legal Marijuana Now
4. Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party
5. Rocky De La Fuente, Reform Party
6. Gloria LaRiva, Socialism & Liberation
7. independent Evan McMullin
8. independent Lynn Kahn

Iowa hasn’t had any ballot-qualified parties, other than Republican and Democratic, since 2002.

COFOE Contributes $1,000 Toward Costs of Appealing Virginia Ballot Order Case to U.S. Supreme Court

On August 19, the board of the Coalition for Free & Open Elections (COFOE) voted to contribute $1,000 toward the cost of appealing Sarvis v Alcorn to the U.S. Supreme Court. This is the case that challenges the order of candidates on Virginia general election ballots. The U.S. District Court and the Fourth Circuit had upheld the law, which says that nominees of the qualified parties appear first (in Virginia, for the last 19 years, only the Democratic and Republican Parties have been qualified parties). Then the nominees of unqualified parties appear on the ballot, and at the bottom are the independent candidates.

The judges in the U.S. District Court and the Fourth Circuit agreed that being listed first on the ballot is an advantage. But they said there is a state interest in strengthening the two major parties against all competition. Ironically, Virginia law acknowledges the importance of being listed first on the ballot, because it provides that a random method should be used in each election to determine whether the Republican or the Democrat is listed first.

COFOE obtains all its revenue from contributions from readers of the print edition of Ballot Access News. COFOE is grateful for those contributions. The cert petition is due in mid-October, although it is fairly easy to get a month’s extension. It is easier to get U.S. Supreme Court review when there is a split in the circuits on the merits of the issue. In this case, there is a circuit split, because the Seventh and Eighth Circuits have struck down discriminatory laws in North Dakota and Illinois on ballot order.