North Carolina Ballot Access Bill Enacted into Law

On the morning of Tuesday, October 17, the North Carolina House passed SB 656. Because the Senate passed it the day before, it is now law. Governor Roy Cooper had vetoed it, but the legislature has now overridden his veto.

Many Democratic members of the House said in debate on October 17 that they support the ballot access liberalization, but that they voted to uphold the gubernatorial veto because of the unrelated part of the bill that eliminates judicial primary elections in 2018.

As a result of the success of SB 656, there are now only four states without some means for a presidential candidate (running outside the two major parties) to get on the ballot with the support of 25,000 or fewer voters: California, Texas, Michigan, and Indiana. For U.S. House, the only states that ever require petitions in excess of 8,000 signatures are now Georgia and Illinois.

Here is the text of the final draft of SB 656.

North Carolina Senate Again Passes the Ballot Access Bill

On October 16, the North Carolina Senate again passed SB 656, which greatly improves ballot access for minor parties, and also makes substantial improvements for independent candidates. The re-vote was needed because the Governor had vetoed the bill last week. The bill received votes from more than the required 60% of the members who voted. The vote was 26-15.

The House will vote on the bill on Tuesday, October 17.

California Reduces Number of Signatures Needed on Petitions in Lieu of Filing Fee

Late on October 15, Governor Jerry Brown signed California AB 469. It lowers the number of signatures to get on the ballot, for candidates who don’t pay the filing fee. The statewide petition drops from 10,000 to 7,000. The U.S. House and State Senate petition drops from 3,000 to 2,000. The Assembly petitions drops from 1,500 to 1,000.

The bill also allows these petitions to circulate two weeks earlier than under the old law. However, the provision allowing candidates to submit supplemental petitions after the first petition has been checked is repealed.

Activists from the Peace & Freedom Party and the Green Party did good work on this bill. The original bill, which was proposed by California’s county election officials, abolished the supplemental petitions but did not reduce the number of signatures.

These petitions are useful even if they are not completed. Every valid signature on an in lieu petition reduces the amount of the filing fee. The filing fees are based on the annual salary of the office sought. Statewide office filing fees are 2% of the salary; district office is 1% of the salary.

California Governor Vetoes Bill to Require Presidential Candidates to Reveal their Tax Returns

October 15 was the last day for California Governor Jerry Brown to sign or veto bills. Late in the evening of the last day, he vetoed SB 149, which would have required presidential primary candidates to reveal their income tax returns.

An earlier version of this post said he had allowed it to become law without his signature. That was erroneous. I was fooled because most days the Governor only issues one summary of what he has done about bills, and the SB 149 veto was not in the day’s first batch. But he put out a second batch of news about bills after 10:30 pm but before midnight. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the accurate news.

Here is the veto message. It says, “A qualified candidate’s ability to appear on the ballot is fundamental to our democratic system. For that reason, I hesitate to start down a road that well might lead to an ever escalating set of differing state requirements for presidential candidates.”

California 2018 U.S. Senate Candidate Kevin De Leon Confirms His Entry into Race

On October 15, California State Senator Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) announced that he will enter the 2018 U.S. Senate race against incumbent Dianne Feinstein. Although this news had been reported a few days earlier, the earlier announcement had been based on sources other than De Leon himself. As noted several days ago, this means there is a high probability that in November 2018, California voters will not be able to vote for U.S. Senate unless they vote for a Democrat. See this story. Thanks to Thomas Jones for this news.

California Governor Signs Bill, Providing for Election Officials to Make Independent Voters Aware of their Primary Choices

On October 15, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 837. It sets forth many steps that election officials must take, in order to inform independent voters that they are free to choose the primary ballot of parties that allow independents to vote in their primaries.

Currently the bill only applies to presidential primaries, because California currently doesn’t have party nominees for office other than president. But if the top-two system is ever repealed, and there are again party primaries for congress and state office, the new law will apply to those primaries as well.

During the period 2001-2010, both the Republican and Democratic Parties allowed independent voters to vote in all their congressional/state office primaries. But even though the California Secretary of State had regulations during that period, instructing county election officials to inform independent voters of their choices, no law existed, requiring such information to be disseminated.

In 2016, the Democratic, American Independent, and Libertarian Parties let independents vote in their presidential primaries; but the Republican, Green, and Peace & Freedom Parties did not. However, many independent voters did not realize they were free to vote in any presidential primaries, and complaints about that caused AB 837 to be introduced and passed.

Governor Brown’s office still hasn’t released any information on his actions regarding SB 149 (income tax returns for presidential primary candidates) and AB 469 (changes to the petition in lieu of filing fee). This post is being written at 5:30 p.m. California time.