The national Green Party has decided to hold its 2007 annual meeting in Reading, Pennsylvania, July 12-15. The choice of Pennsylvania is fraught with symbolism. No state has ever treated the Green Party worse than Pennsylvania has.
First, even though the Green Party polled enough votes in November 2004 to meet Pennsylvania’s definition of “political party”, the state treated it as though it weren’t a qualified party, and required 67,070 signatures for its 2006 statewide nominees.
When the party tried and failed to meet that requirement, its U.S. Senate candidate was told he had to pay $80,408 for the costs of checking his petition. Its gubernatorial candidate was intimidated into withdrawing so that she wouldn’t be equally liable.
On top of that, almost one-third of Pennsylvania’s counties failed to count the party’s write-in votes, even though Pennsylvania election law considered those write-ins valid.
On February 2, thirteen Maryland State Senators introduced SB 546, to establish public funding for legislative candidates. Like the public funding laws in Arizona and Maine (and like the one that existed in Massachusetts until the legislature repealed it), SB 546 does not discriminate for or against any candidate based on that candidate’s party affiliation.
The bill requires candidates who seek public funding to raise contributions of at least $5 from 350 residents of their district. The total amount of such contributions must equal at least $6,750.
Connecticut’s public funding law does discriminate on the basis of party affiliation. The ACLU is currently challenging the discriminatory aspect of Connecticut’s law in federal court.
Thanks to Howard Wilson for the Maryland news.
Montana’s Attorney General and Secretary of State are sponsoring SB 96, which would make it more difficult for initiatives to get on the ballot. The bill would outlaw out-of-state circulators for initiatives, and also prohibit paying circulators per signature. The Attorney General, Mike McGrath, is a Democrat; the Secretary of State, Bradley Johnson, is a Republican.
On February 6, New York held a special election for State Senate, 7th district, to fill a vacancy. With all the precincts reporting, Democrat Craig Johnson has defeated Republican Maureen O’Connell. Thanks to the commenter below. Johnson got 24,915 votes under the Democratic label and 1,537 on the Working Families label. O’Connell got 18,988 Republican votes, 2,252 Conservative Party votes, and 1,689 Independence Party votes.
On February 6, Oregon Senator Ben Westlund introduced SB 468. It repeals the law passed in 2005 that makes it illegal for primary voters to sign an independent candidate’s petition.
Rep. William Black introduced HB 632 on February 6. It would improve ballot access for independent candidates. It is similar to Black’s HB 158, which improves ballot access for new and previously unqualified political parties. Both bills set the petition requirement so that it equals the number of signatures needed for major party members seeking a place on a primary ballot. Since the number of signatures for a member of a major party varies according to which major party it is, the bills choose the number of signatures that matches the larger primary requirement. In other words, if in the 8th US House district, a Republican needs 632 signatures to get on the Republican primary ballot, and a Democrat needs 488 signatures to get on the Democratic primary ballot, a minor party or independent candidate would also need 632 signatures.
HB 632 also improves the independent candidate deadline, setting it in June of election years, which matches the existing law for minor party petition deadlines. The existing law for independent candidates requires the petitions to be turned in in December of the year before the election, but that was held unconstitutional last year, so that law needs to be revised.