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


Presidential Debate News Summarizes Recent TV Public Affairs Shows that Have had Segments on General Election Presidential Debates

This article from Presidential Debate News summarizes what has been said on several important television public affairs programs recently, about the Commission on Presidential Debates and its exclusionary rule on who gets invited to debate.


Chuck Sweeny Says Fox Republican Presidential Debate is Flawed

Chuck Sweeny, senior political editor for the Rockford (Illinois) Register Star, writes here that the August 6 Fox Republican presidential debate is badly planned. The top ten Republicans, based on polls, will participate.

Sweeny says that instead, Fox News should hold two debates, each with eight candidates. Random procedures should be used to determine which eight candidates are in each debate. To make the two debates equal in viewership, they should both be in the evening, so that would probably involve debates on two different evenings (Sweeny doesn’t say this but it seems to follow from what he does say). Sweeny says many polls only have 300 or so respondents and the Fox News decision is not only unfair, it is arbitrary because there continues to be a virtual tie for tenth place and also ninth place.


Pennsylvania Supreme Court Reverses Lower Courts and Puts a Local Initiative on the Ballot

On July 20, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an opinion in Petition to Submit Ballot Question to Concord Township Voters, no. 126 MAP 2014. The issue was how to construe a Pennsylvania election law that governs local initiative petitions for a second class township to consider switching to first class township status.

The initiative petition had enough valid signatures, but it was rejected on the grounds that it was not filed in the correct year. The petition was submitted in 2014 by some voters in Concord, a township in Delaware County.

The law says, “At the first general or municipal election occurring, at least 90 days after the ascertainment that any township of the second class has a population density of at least 300 inhabitants to the square mile, and after a petition signed by at least 5% of the registered voters of the township has been filed, the question of whether such township of the second class shall become a township of the first class shall be submitted to the voters.”

The lower state courts had interpreted this law to mean that such a petition can only be filed in the first year after the census results are known, which would have been 2012. The proponents of the initiative read the law to mean that the election should be held as soon as the population data is known and as soon as an initiative petition has been submitted. The Supreme Court agreed with the latter interpretation by a vote of 3-2.
Here is the dissent, which believes that the last time that law was revised, the drafters made a drafting error involving commas.


Donald Trump Has Had Four Partisan Affiliations

According to the New York City Board of Elections, Donald Trump registered in 1992 as a Republican. He remained a Republican until 1999, when he registered into the Independence Party. At the time, the Independence Party was the New York state affiliate of the Reform Party, and Trump briefly considered seeking the Reform Party’s nomination for president in 2000.

In 2001 he registered into the Democratic Party. In 2009 he registered back into the Republican Party. In 2011 he became an independent, but in 2012 he rejoined the Republican Party.


Washington Post Article Highlights Absurdity of U.S. Policy of Denying Vote to Residents of Territories

This Washington Post story says thousands of Puerto Ricans have been moving to Florida lately, because the economy in Puerto Rice is bad. An accidental byproduct is that as soon as they have lived in Florida for a month, with the intention of remaining, they are free to register to vote. Then they can vote for President and Congress, whereas as long as they lived in Puerto Rico, they could not.

All of the other nations with overseas possessions, except Great Britain, lets residents of their overseas possessions vote in national elections. Those countries are France, Netherlands, Denmark, and Spain. Thanks to Michael Drucker for the link.


Ralph Nader Slams Huffington Post for Policy of Not Covering Donald Trump in its Political News

Ralph Nader has this op-ed in the New York Daily News. Nader’s general point is that mainstream news media do a terrible job of covering candidates. His column is specifically triggered by the Huffington Post’s policy of not covering Donald Trump in its political news, but instead in its entertainment news. Nader’s piece also criticizes the Commission on Presidential Debates.