Ohio Independent Congressional Case to be Decided without Oral Argument

Charlie Morrison is trying to be placed on the Ohio ballot for U.S. House, 15th district, as an independent. His petition was approved, but he was still rejected because he had voted in this year’s Republican primary. Ohio law is very vague about whether voting in a major party primary disqualifies one as running as an independent (for example, the Green Party’s candidate for Governor this year, who qualified as an independent, also voted in a major party primary this year, and he was not disqualified). Ohio does not have registration by party.

Morrison’s lawsuit in federal court to get on the ballot had been scheduled for an oral argument on August 30. However, both sides agreed to let the judge decide, based on the briefs; the hearing itself was cancelled and a decision will be out next week.

6th Circuit Will Probably Hear Stewart v Blackwell on Dec. 6

The 6th circuit will probably hear Stewart v Blackwell on December 6. This is not a ballot access case. But it is very important for the future of all election law constitutional litigation, for the entire nation. Stewart v Blackwell deals with whether the 14th amendment requires that all voters in the state have an equal opportunity to have their vote count. Specifically, can the state use voting equipment with a good rate of preventing voter error in some counties, and worse voting equipment in other counties? The issue all hinges on whether the US Supreme Court meant what it said in Bush v Gore, that each voter must be treated equally. The 6th circuit already ruled 2-1 that Bush v Gore meant what it said, and therefore Ohio could not use punchcard systems in some counties. But the state persuaded the 6th circuit to grant a rehearing before all the 6th circuit full-time judges, and that will probably be December 6. All the briefs are in.

Colorado Republican Retiring Congressman Almost Became a Write-in Candidate

Colorado’s 5th U.S. House district (Colorado Springs) has been represented by Congressman Joel Hefley for 20 years. Earlier this year, Hefley announced his retirement. However, Hefley is so distressed with the man who won the Republican primary to replace him, that Hefley was thinking of running for re-election after all, as a write-in candidate. The Republican candidate is State Senator Doug Lamborn. However, at 11:45 am (Colorado time) on August 29, Congressman Hefley said he would not be a write-in candidate after all.

Now is the Time to Ask State Legislators to Introduce Ballot Access Reform Bills

Next year, almost every state legislature will be meeting. It is very common for state legislators to decide which bills they will introduce, during the last few months of even-numbered years. If you live in a state with faulty election laws, and you hope to persuade your state legislature to improve them, now is the time to ask legislators to sponsor such bills. Groups are already working on this project (for ballot access improvements) in California, Georgia, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and perhaps other states.

Florida Voter Registration Law Enjoined

On August 28, U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Seitz, a Clinton appointee in the southern district (Miami), enjoined the state from enforcing a 2005 law that imposes very large fines on individuals and groups that register voters, if those individuals or groups don’t turn in the registration forms within 10 days after they are filled out. League of Women Voters v Cobb, 06-21265. Thanks to Rick Hasen for this news.