Vermont Secretary of State Will Propose IRV for One or Two Offices

Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz is asking the Vermont legislature to pass a bill that would let Vermont use Instant-Runoff Voting for one or two particular state offices in the future. The legislature will decide which offices. Markowitz then plans to use a hand-count for whichever offices are chosen. She feels this is the only practical solution, since each Vermont town decides for itself which vote-counting technology to use.

Women Running for President in the General Election

The news that U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton is leading for the Democratic presidential nomination has brought a spate of news stories about women candidates for president in the past. Many of these stories erroneously say that Victoria Woodhull ran for president in 1872, and that Belva Ann Lockwood ran for president in 1884 and 1888. These stories are not true. Neither woman organized any slates of candidates for presidential elector, pledged to vote for her. Therefore, it was literally impossible for anyone, even those two women themselves, to cast a vote for them for president (of course, back then no state permitted women to vote in any event, but they were still permitted to run for federal office). The National Archives contain the certificates of how many votes were received by each slate of presidential elector candidates, in all presidential elections since 1789. Researchers who have gone through these archives have never found any slates of electors pledged to Woodhull or Lockwood, nor has any state’s official election returns mentioned any such votes.

The first woman who ran for president in the general election and received any valid votes was Charlene Mitchell, presidential nominee of the Communist Party, in 1968. She was only on the ballot in two states and only received 1,075 votes.

The only three women who ever ran for president in the general election and received as much as 70,000 votes are Lenora Fulani of the New Alliance Party (who did it in 1988 and 1992), Linda Jenness of the Socialist Workers Party in 1972, and Sonia Johnson of the Citizens Party in 1984.

Colorado Bill for National Popular Vote Plan Passes First Committee Hurdle

On January 17, the Colorado Senate committee that handles election bills (the strangely-named State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee) passed SB 46, which sets up the National Popular Vote plan compact for presidential elections. The bill has a vote set in the full Senate for the afternoon of January 22.

In Mississippi, the same bill was introduced on January 4 by eight Democratic State Senators. It is SB 2284. The lead sponsor is Senator Gloria Williamson, a former state chair of the Democratic Party. The Mississippi State Senate is tied, with 26 Republicans and 26 Democrats, but the Republican Lieutenant Governor breaks the tie and gives Republicans control. Senator Williamson herself said she doesn’t expect the bill to pass this year.

Kentucky Elected an Independent State Senator Last November

On November 7, 2006, voters in Kentucky’s 2nd State Senate district elected an independent candidate to represent them in the State Senate. Kentucky almost never elects independent candidates to state or federal office. Independent candidates must contend against the “straight-ticket” device in use in that state, which damages independent candidates (since independent candidates are excluded from the use of the device).

Bob Leeper won the election with 41.1% of the vote. The Democratic nominee, former Congressman Carroll Hubbard, received 40.9%, and the Republican nominee, Neil Archer, received 18.0%. Leeper had been elected to the State Senate as a Democrat in 1990 and 1994, and as a Republican in 1998 and 2002. He became unhappy with the Republican Party in 2005 and at that time changed his registration to “independent”.

The only other independents who were elected to state legislatures on November 7, 2006, are Daryl Pillsbury of Brattleboro, Vermont; Will Stevens of Shoreham, Vermont; Thomas Saviello of Wilton, Maine; and Richard Woodbury of Yarmouth, Maine. There were seven minor party members elected to state legislatures (6 Progressives in Vermont and one Constitution Party member in Montana).

Every state had at least one minor party or independent candidate for the state legislature on its ballot, in 2006 (if that state was electing state legislators in 2006, of course). The same was true in 2004; every state had at least one minor party or independent on the ballot for state legislature.

Connecticut Secretary of State Asks Legislature to Move Independent Petition Deadline from August to July

The Connecticut Secretary of State, Susan Bysiewicz, is asking the Connecticut legislature to move the independent and minor party petition deadline from mid-August to mid-July. She says this will discourage (though not absolutely prohibit) “sore-loser” candidacies in the future. The Secretary of State’s bill is not yet formally introduced.