New York Legislature Adjourns without Passing Any Election Law Bills

The New York legislature adjourned on the evening of June 21. Although 222 bills to amend the election law had been introduced this year, none of them passed (many of these bills are duplicates of other bills).

Bills that would have improved the appearance and clarity of the ballot were SB 2792 and AB 7333. Bills that would have somewhat liberalized the law on residency of circulators were AB 567 and SB 218.

SB 4780 and AB 5735 would have provided that the state should spend money educating voters that New York has closed primaries.

AB 3052 and SB 3562 would have moved the independent candidate petition deadline from August to May.

Many bills would have made voting easier, by allowing early voting or same-day voter registration, or easing the deadline for primary voters to join parties so as to be able to vote in their primaries.

Maine Bill Making it More Difficult to Qualify a Statewide Initiative Seems Unlikely to Pass

The Maine House passed LD 31 on June 16. This is the bill that would amend the state constitution to provide that statewide initiatives need signatures of 10% of the last gubernatorial vote in each of the two U.S. House districts. Currently initiatives need 10%, but the signatures can come from anywhere in the state.

On June 19, the Senate sent the bill to the Appropriations Table. This probably means the bill is dead for the year. The legislature adjourns on June 26. Even if it had passed, it would not have taken effect without a vote of the voters.

United Utah Sues in Federal Court to be Allowed to Run in November 7, 2017 Special U.S. House Election

Utah holds a special election for U.S. House, 3rd district, on November 7, 2017. On June 21, the United Utah Party, a new centrist party that submitted its party petition last month, sued the state elections office because that office says the United Utah Party can’t nominate anyone for that election. United Utah Party v Cox, 2:17cv-655. It is assigned to Judge David Nuffer, who has experience with Utah election law, because he is the judge who handled the Republican Party’s lawsuit against the state law that lets candidates petition onto a primary ballot (the Republican Party only wants candidates in its primary who enjoy substantial support at a party endorsement meeting). Judge Nuffer ruled against the Republican Party in that case. UPDATE: see this news story.

The state says the United Utah Party is too new to nominate anyone in the November 2017 election, even though the only member of the party who wants the 2017 congressional nomination, Jim Bennett, filed a declaration of candidacy by the legal deadline in May. The state hasn’t finished checking the party’s petition, and in the meantime refuses to let anyone from that party file because the state feels the party still isn’t in existence.

North Carolina Ballot Access Bill Passes House Committee

On June 21, the North Carolina House Elections Committee passed SB 656, the ballot access bill, by 15-8. However the bill was amended, so assuming it passes the House, it will then need to return to the Senate. It is expected the bill will be brought up for a House floor vote on June 22, or possibly June 23. The bill cuts the number of signatures for a newly-qualifying party from 2% of the last gubernatorial vote, to exactly 10,000.

The House Elections Committee amended the bill in three ways: (1) it moves the independent candidate petition deadline from April to June (it had always been in June, except that a bill passed earlier this year moved it to April, which is clearly unconstitutional); (2) it says that a party that is not otherwise on the ballot, but which placed its presidential nominee on the ballot in at least 40 states at the last presidential election, is on the ballot for president only, even without a petition, in the upcoming presidential election; (3) it minimizes the odds that any party with its own primary will ever again have a run-off primary (current law says a runoff primary is needed if no one got 40%, but the bill lowers that to 30%).

The second amendment is plainly intended to help the Green Party, because Jill Stein was on the ballot in 44 states in 2016. A party that meets this qualification must provide documentation to the State Board of Elections in the odd year before any presidential election. Such parties may also have their own North Carolina presidential primary. Generally newly-qualifying parties in North Carolina never have a primary of any type; they nominate by convention.