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

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Arizona Senate Passes Bill Making Libertarian Primary Ballot Access More Difficult

On March 30, the Arizona Senate passed HB 2608 by 17-12. It makes it more difficult for Libertarians to get on their own party’s primary ballot. It does not injure the Green Party. The bill will now go to the Governor.

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Distinguished Michigan Jurist Will Speak to Constitution Party National Executive Committee Meeting

Thomas E. Brennan, a former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, and the founder of a 4-campus law school, has requested a speaking slot at the Constitution Party’s April 24-25 national executive committee meeting in Pittsburgh. Here is the wikipedia article about Brennan.

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New California Registration Tally

On March 30, the California Secretary of State released a new registration tally, as of February 10, 2015. This is the first new tally since the October 20, 2014. Here are the new figures from the Secretary of State’s web page.

The new percentages are: Democratic 43.15%; Republican 27.98%; American Independent 2.71%; Libertarian .69%; Green .620%; Peace & Freedom .4419%; unqualified parties plus independents 24.41%.

The October 2014 percentages had been: Democratic 43.30%; Republican 28.11%; American Independent 2.70%; Libertarian .68%; Green .621%; Peace & Freedom .4417%; unqualified parties plus independents 24.12%.

Thus, the only categories that declined are Democratic, Republican, and Green. Thanks to Mark Seidenberg for letting me know the new figures are out.

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Both Houses of the Nevada Legislature Have Bills for a January Presidential Primary

Currently, Nevada has no presidential primaries, and Democratic and Republican national party rules give Nevada the privilege of holding caucuses earlier than any other caucus state except Iowa. The 2016 Nevada caucuses are expected to be held on February 20.

Notwithstanding Nevada’s special privilege for its caucuses, there are bills in both houses to scrap caucuses and hold presidential primaries on the second-to-last Tuesday of January. AB 302 already had a hearing in the Assembly Committee on March 24, and the Senate Committee will hear an identical bill, SB 421, on April 1.

The bills would move the primary for non-presidential office into January as well. If either of these bills passed, it is not likely that either major party would accept them, and the national parties would probably penalize their Nevada affiliates by refusing to seat a large share of their delegates. Thanks to Josh Putnam for the news about SB 421.

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Nevada Bill for a “Modified Blanket Primary”

The Nevada Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections will hear SB 499 on April 1 at 3:30 p.m. The bill title says it sets up a “modified blanket primary.” It would provide that for all partisan office except President, all candidates would run in the primary. Only the top two could run in the general election, except that if the top two candidates in the primary are both in the same party, then the 2nd place finisher does not advance to the general election, and whichever candidate who is not in that same party does advance (however, if all the candidates are members of the same party, then the top two would advance).

Although this sounds somewhat like a top-two primary, the bill consistently uses the term “party nominee”. Top-two systems are not constitutional unless the ballot warns voters that there are no party nominees, and SB 499 not only uses the term “nominee”, nowhere does it provide that the ballot should carry language explaining that there are no party nominees.

Blanket primaries are unconstitutional if any party subject to them complains. The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated involuntary blanket primaries in 2000 in California Democratic Party v Jones. The principle behind that decision is that parties can’t be forced to let members of other parties help choose their nominees.

The sponsor of SB 499 is the entire Senate Committee, so it seems likely that the Committee will pass the bill. However, observers do not believe it would pass the Assembly even if it passes the Senate.

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Filing Closes for Special U.S. House Race in Mississippi; All 13 Candidates are Republicans

On March 27, filing closed for candidates in the May 12 special election to fill the vacant U.S. House seat in Mississippi’s First district. The district includes the northeast corner of the state.

No party labels are on the ballot in Mississippi special elections. Here is the Secretary of State’s candidate list, which does not show party. According to Politics1, though, all 13 candidates who filed are Republicans. A Libertarian, Danny Bedwell, had said he would run, but his name does not appear on the Secretary of State’s list.

When this district held an election in November 2014, there were nominees from the Republican, Democratic, Libertarian and Reform Party.

The link to the Secretary of State’s web page also lists the candidates for the regularly-scheduled election for state office in November 2015. The list of candidates in that election includes eleven Reform Party candidates, and four Libertarians. There are no independent candidates for any statewide offices, but there are six independents running for the legislature.