Last month Georgia HB 244 was signed into law. Among other things, it changes Georgia special elections. In the past, all Georgia special elections were non-partisan, even if the office is normally partisan (such as Congress or state legislature). All candidates in Georgia special elections qualify with no petition; they just pay the filing fee. Under HB 244, ballot access procedures remain the same for special elections, but now every candidate will be free to choose a partisan label to be printed on the ballot next to his or her name.
On Sunday, May 15, the Alaska legislature passed HB 94 in special session. However, the only ballot access improvement the bill makes is that it adds procedures for independent presidential candidates. Now Arkansas is the only state without such procedures.
HB 94 does not make it easier for a party to remain on the ballot. Therefore, Alaska still has the same irrational law that it passed in 2004. The law says a party can remain on if it has registration of 3% of the last vote cast, or if it polls 3% for Governor in gubernatorial election years, and 3% for US Senate in non-gubernatorial years. If US Senate isn’t up in non-gubernatorial years, then the US House vote is used.
This is an irrational law. The registration part of the law causes the requirement to fluctuate wildly between 6,500 registrants and 9,200 registrants, depending on whether the test if being applied before a presidential election year or a gubernatorial election year. And the vote test is irrational because it lets a party meet the vote test with a good showing for US Senate in presidential years, but not in gubernatorial years.
On April 13, the Action Committee of the Oregon League of Women Voters withdrew its support for HB 2614. HB 2614 makes it illegal for voters who are registered party members to sign a petition for independent candidates. 75% of Oregon’s registered voters are members of a party, so this bill would make it virtually impossible for an independent to qualify in Oregon. Already, Oregon’s independent petition is more difficult than the independent candidate petition of the average state.
David Cobb (2004 Green Party presidential nominee) and Michael Badnarik (2004 Libertarian presidential nominee) filed for a recount of Ohio’s presidential vote last year. Although a recount was done, it appears to have been done improperly. Cobb and the Kerry-Edwards Campaign filed a lawsuit to have it done properly. On May 10, the federal judge hearing the case transferred it from the southern district courthouse in Columbus, to the northern district courthouse in Toledo.
In the meantime, HB 3 is moving forward in the Ohio legislature. It would raise the fee for a recount from $10 per precinct to $50 per precinct. The bill, which does many other things as well, passed the House Elections Committee on May 11.
On May 12, supporters of Donna Frye, the write-in candidate for Mayor of San Diego last November, withdrew their lawsuit over whether all of her write-ins should be tallied. The issue was those write-ins in which the voter wrote her in, but forgot to “x” the box next to the write-in line. The Frye voters withdrew their lawsuit because there will be a special election for Mayor on July 26, 2005 anyway. Also, it is now likely that the California legislature will pass a bill to legalize that type of write-in vote. Bills to do that have each passed in the house of origin. They are AB 43 and SB 1050. Since the bills are not identical, one of them still must pass the other house. Withdrawing the Frye lawsuit makes it even more likely that one of the bills will be signed into law.
On May 12, the Missouri legislature passed HB 525, which (among other things) gives a newly-qualifying party the flexibility to decide whether to run a presidential candidate after it gets on the ballot. The old law required it to list candidates for presidential elector on its petition, which meant that it had to make a decision about whether to run such candidates before it started its petition drove.