The Pennylvania State Supreme Court today entered a one-sentence order, denying the Green Party an injunction to get on the statewide ballot this November. Pennsylvania thus joins New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Alabama, is one of 4 states this year which is holding a statewide partisan election and has no minor party or independent candidates on that statewide ballot.
The issue in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was how many signatures were actually required this year, 67,070 or 15,494. Romanelliâ€™s attorney, Lawrence Otter, argued that state elections officials should have used a 2005 judicial retention election for Justice Sandra Newman, a move that would have resulted in a signature requirement of 15,494. The Green candidate had originally submitted nominating petitions, which he said, contained 100,000 signatures. After a review by state elections officials and litigation before Commonwealth Court, thousands of those signatures were ruled invalid, leaving him at least 9,000 short of the required total.
The best hope for Pennsylvania ballot access reform now lies with the rehearing pending in the 3rd circuit, which almost certainly won’t be decided until after the election. They also plan to appeal on other issues. In a separate appeal of the original Commonwealth Court ruling, Romanelli is challenging the validity of the overall statewide registration system and argues that his due process rights were denied as he tried to rehabilitate thousands of signatures ruled invalid in the painstaking review before the court. Of course, lobbying for a better law may work also; the Pennsylvania ballot access group has been very vigorous.
On October 3, a voting rights group filed a federal lawsuit against an Oregon law that injures independent candidates. The Oregon legislature in 2005 had passed a law, prohibiting voters who had voted in the primary, or who were going to vote in the primary, from signing independent candidate petitions. The new lawsuit attacks this law. The US Supreme Court had upheld this type of law in 1974. However, the Oregon law has some legal vulnerabilities, and this lawsuit may succeed despite the 1974 US Supreme Court ruling.
New York and New Jersey each have 9 names printed on the ballot for the office at the top of the ballot. No other state has that many choices for the top office this year.
In New Jersey, U.S. Senate is the only statewide race up this year. The Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Socialist, and Socialist Workers Parties have candidates for that office on the ballot, and there are also 4 independents.
In New York, there are only 6 candidates for Governor, but there are 9 names of candidates for Governor on the ballot. This is because the Democratic nominee is also the nominee of the Working Families and Independence Parties; and the Republican nominee is also the nominee of the Conservative Party. Running against the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial nominees are the nominees of the Green, Libertarian and Socialist Workers Party, and an independent candidate using the ballot slogan “Rent is Too Damn High”. Two other groups were removed from the gubernatorial ballot because they didn’t have enough signatures, Right to Life and Voice of People.
On September 29, the 6th circuit gave permission for the state of Ohio to file a late petition for rehearing, in Libertarian Party of Ohio v Blackwell. The petition for rehearing is now due October 4.
In 2007, bills will be introduced in 28 states to pass the “National Popular Vote Plan” for president. The states are Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The organization supporting the plan may do an initiative in California, since the Governor vetoed it and is considered likely to be re-elected this year.
Louisiana held special elections on September 30 for Insurance Commissioner and Secretary of State. This was the first time the Libertarian Party had candidates on the Louisiana ballot (for office other than president) for which the party label was printed. This is as a result of an improvement in the ballot access law for parties, passed in 2004.
In the Insurance Commissioner’s race, there were two Republicans and a Libertarian. The Libertarian polled 10.6%. One of the Republicans polled slightly more than 50% and is now elected.
In the Secretary of State’s race, with four Republicans, one Democrat, one independent, and one Libertarian in the race, the Libertarian polled 1.8%. The independent polled 3.8.%. There will be a November run-off between the top two candidates, a Republican and a Democrat.