On August 29, a group of naturalized citizens, and several organizations that support them, sued in U.S. District Court to overturn an Ohio law passed last year. That law requires naturalized citizens to bring their naturalization papers with them when they vote at the polls, to avoid a challenge. The lawsuit points out that most naturalized citizens keep their papers in a safety deposit box, that if they are lost, it takes over a year to replace them, along with a $200 fee. Also, the lawsuit wonders why Ohio won’t be satisfied with a U.S. passport, as proof of citizenship. The case is Boustani v Blackwell.
On August 31, the Illinois Bd. of Elections unanimously certified the statewide Green Party petition. Also, in North Dakota, the Libertarian Party candidate for US Senate has 1,300 signatures, and since only 1,000 are needed, and since North Dakota has no voter registration, he is safely on the ballot. This means that every state that has statewide elections this year will have minor party or independent candidates on the statewide ballot, except Alabama, and with Pennsylvania and New Mexico still unsettled.
The Maryland League of Women Voters is hosting a televised debate for two candidates for the U.S. Senate Democratic nomination, on the evening of August 31. On August 30, three other Democratic candidates for that nomination held a protest in front of the League’s headquarters. The three protesting candidates pointed out that if the League had imposed a 15% poll requirement in 1994, that even Ellen Sauberbrey would have been excluded. She was only polling 14% at the end of August 1994. Yet she went on to win the mid-September 1994 Republican primary for Governor.
Each state League of Women Voters sets its own policy, on whom to invite into televised debates. The Pennsylvania League has a tradition of inviting everyone who is on the ballot into its televised candidate debates, for example.
Law Professor Rick Hasen of Loyola Law School (Los Angeles) writes the nation’s foremost election law blog, and is one of the two co-founders of the Election Law Journal. He wrote a guest column for findlaw.com on August 30, and suggested that the U.S. Supreme Court should rethink its 1974 election law decision, Storer v Brown. Hasen said that “sore loser” laws appear not to be needed. He cited the current Connecticut U.S. Senate race to show that “sore loser” laws are not really essential.
On August 30, a lower state court ruled that even though major parties in Colorado can nominate candidates who haven’t been a member of that party for a year, qualified minor parties do not have the same right. The decision means that the Libertarian Party nominee for Sheriff of Arapahoe County is off the ballot. The party is appealing to the Colorado Supreme Court. The case is Libertarian Party of Colorado v Doty, 06-cv-4768, Arapahoe Dist. Court.
Even the Colorado major parties were once hampered by the one-year rule, but the Colorado Democratic Party won a ruling in 1988 that the one-year rule is unconstitutional, as applied to parties that don’t want it applied to them. In the current case, the judge refused to apply the 1988 ruling to the Libertarian Party because, back in 1991, before the Libertarian Party was a qualified minor party, the State Supreme Court had upheld the one-year disaffiliation law as applied to unqualified parties.
The South Carolina Election Commission still hasn’t finished checking the Labor Party’s petition, but should be done the first week in September. The party needed 10,000 and submitted 16,000 several months ago. The Labor Party is organized nationally, but had never tried to qualify for the ballot in any state, until it decided to qualify in South Carolina. If the petition is approved, the party will be entitled to nominate candidates in 2007 and 2008, but not 2006, since the petition was submitted beyond this year’s May 7 deadline.