Alaska Elections Department Will Try to Show that Alaska Greens are not a "Real" Party

Ever since 2004, the Alaska Green Party has been in state court, arguing that the state’s definition of “party” is too stringent. As the case moves toward a trial, the state has asked the party to provide this information: (1) how many members of the Green Party are voter registrars; (2) what efforts the party has made to increase its registration; (3) how many people have attended its state conventions; (4) how many regional conventions it has held; (5) a list of all political activity the party has engaged in over the past 15 years; (6) how much money the party has raised in each year since 1996; (7) the physical address of the party’s office ever since 1990, and the phone numbers of such offices. There are other questions as well. The state also wants to see a copy of each mailing the party has made to its members over the last 10 years.

It is obvious that the state is attempting to show that the Alaska Green Party is not a “real” political party. Similar attempts were made in court in Florida in 2004 against the Reform Party, and in Arkansas in 1996 against the Reform Party. However, the Reform Party won both lawsuits.

Alaska Elections Department Will Try to Show that Alaska Greens are not a “Real” Party

Ever since 2004, the Alaska Green Party has been in state court, arguing that the state’s definition of “party” is too stringent. As the case moves toward a trial, the state has asked the party to provide this information: (1) how many members of the Green Party are voter registrars; (2) what efforts the party has made to increase its registration; (3) how many people have attended its state conventions; (4) how many regional conventions it has held; (5) a list of all political activity the party has engaged in over the past 15 years; (6) how much money the party has raised in each year since 1996; (7) the physical address of the party’s office ever since 1990, and the phone numbers of such offices. There are other questions as well. The state also wants to see a copy of each mailing the party has made to its members over the last 10 years.

It is obvious that the state is attempting to show that the Alaska Green Party is not a “real” political party. Similar attempts were made in court in Florida in 2004 against the Reform Party, and in Arkansas in 1996 against the Reform Party. However, the Reform Party won both lawsuits.

Pennsylvania Government Files Defense of State's Ballot Access Law

On June 20, the state of Pennsylvania filed its brief in the pending 3rd circuit ballot access case, Rogers v Cortes, 06-2241.

The minor parties’ strongest argument is that since they already meet the definition of “political party” (a group that polled 2% of the highest vote-getter’s vote in the previous election), they have already proved they have a modicum of support. Therefore, as to them, the requirement for 67,000 signatures this year is redundant.

The state brief barely even acknowledges this argument. The state fails to mention the only on-point precedent, the decision of Maryland’s highest state court in 2003, which ruled that since the qualified parties of Maryland had already shown a modicum of voter support, it was unconstitutional to require them to submit petitions for their nominees.

The state argues that if the political party-plaintiff’s argument were accepted, then the state would unconstitutionally be discriminating against unqualified parties and independent candidates. This is logically unsound. It is not discrimination to give ballot access advantages to parties that have already shown they have a modicum of voter support. Indeed, all of the U.S. ballot access jurisprudence is built on this principle.

The state claims that every state has a “safe harbor”; that no petition requirement at or below 5% of the number of registered voters is vulnerable to constitutional attack. It is true that in 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s ballot access laws. But since then, the Court has taken a more pragmatic approach. For example, in 1974 and again in 1977, it said that ballot access laws should be judged according to how often they are used. In 1979 it said that Illinois’ petition of 5% of the last vote cast, for Mayor of Chicago and for Cook County office, was unconstitutional, because it was obvious that it wasn’t needed.

The state also claims that a 1986 ruling of the 3rd circuit said that states may not constitutionally provide primaries to small parties. This is wholly inaccurate. The Consumer Party case struck down a ballot access law for members of small qualified parties to get on their own party’s primary ballots. In that case, the Consumer Party was entitled to its own primary, and it needed 2,000 signatures of party members for an individual to get on the Consumer Party primary (for statewide office). The Consumer Party complained that since it only had 7,000 registered members, this was too difficult. The 3rd circuit agreed with the Consumer Party.

In response, the state could have eased the number of signatures needed for a member of a small qualified party to get on his or her own primary ballot. It could have said the number of signatures is 2,000 or 5% of the party’s membership, whichever is smaller. Instead, the 1986 legislature created the present system, which treats qualified parties as though they weren’t qualified, unless they have registration of 15% of the state total (approximately 1,000,000 voters).

The plaintiff-political parties now have a chance to rebut the state’s brief. The hearing will be in mid-July.

Pennsylvania Government Files Defense of State’s Ballot Access Law

On June 20, the state of Pennsylvania filed its brief in the pending 3rd circuit ballot access case, Rogers v Cortes, 06-2241.

The minor parties’ strongest argument is that since they already meet the definition of “political party” (a group that polled 2% of the highest vote-getter’s vote in the previous election), they have already proved they have a modicum of support. Therefore, as to them, the requirement for 67,000 signatures this year is redundant.

The state brief barely even acknowledges this argument. The state fails to mention the only on-point precedent, the decision of Maryland’s highest state court in 2003, which ruled that since the qualified parties of Maryland had already shown a modicum of voter support, it was unconstitutional to require them to submit petitions for their nominees.

The state argues that if the political party-plaintiff’s argument were accepted, then the state would unconstitutionally be discriminating against unqualified parties and independent candidates. This is logically unsound. It is not discrimination to give ballot access advantages to parties that have already shown they have a modicum of voter support. Indeed, all of the U.S. ballot access jurisprudence is built on this principle.

The state claims that every state has a “safe harbor”; that no petition requirement at or below 5% of the number of registered voters is vulnerable to constitutional attack. It is true that in 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s ballot access laws. But since then, the Court has taken a more pragmatic approach. For example, in 1974 and again in 1977, it said that ballot access laws should be judged according to how often they are used. In 1979 it said that Illinois’ petition of 5% of the last vote cast, for Mayor of Chicago and for Cook County office, was unconstitutional, because it was obvious that it wasn’t needed.

The state also claims that a 1986 ruling of the 3rd circuit said that states may not constitutionally provide primaries to small parties. This is wholly inaccurate. The Consumer Party case struck down a ballot access law for members of small qualified parties to get on their own party’s primary ballots. In that case, the Consumer Party was entitled to its own primary, and it needed 2,000 signatures of party members for an individual to get on the Consumer Party primary (for statewide office). The Consumer Party complained that since it only had 7,000 registered members, this was too difficult. The 3rd circuit agreed with the Consumer Party.

In response, the state could have eased the number of signatures needed for a member of a small qualified party to get on his or her own primary ballot. It could have said the number of signatures is 2,000 or 5% of the party’s membership, whichever is smaller. Instead, the 1986 legislature created the present system, which treats qualified parties as though they weren’t qualified, unless they have registration of 15% of the state total (approximately 1,000,000 voters).

The plaintiff-political parties now have a chance to rebut the state’s brief. The hearing will be in mid-July.

Independence Party of N.Y. State Chair Tries to Expel 83 Activists

The state chairman of the New York Independence Party has called hearings June 21 and June 22 to revoke the voter enrollment of least 83 members of the party. New York state law says, “The chairman of the county committee of a party with which a voter is enrolled in such county, may, upon a written complaint by an enrolled member of such party in such county and after a hearing held by him, determine that the voter is not in sympathy with the principles of such party.” All of the 83 voters are presumed by the complaining member to be political allies of Lenora Fulani.