New York Libertarians Win a Better Line on Ballot

On October 21, a lower New York state court ruled that the Libertarian nominees, not the Socialist Workers Party nominees, should have the sixth line on the New York city ballot next month. The law provides that the qualified parties get the left-hand columns. New York has five qualified parties, so they fill up the 5 left-most columns.

The unqualified parties get the remaining columns, in the order in which they turn in their petitions. The Libertarians had turned in a petition for one nominee (for an office covering just part of New York city), earlier than any other unqualified party had turned in any petitions.

The Socialist Workers Party had filed next, for all of its nominees. Then, the Libertarians had turned in their remaining petitions, including the petition for the city-wide nominees. The City Board of Elections gave the sixth column to the Socialist Workers Party and the seventh column to the Libertarian Party. But the court reversed the decision. The law says the parties are listed in the order in which “the first candidate” of a group filed, not “the first candidate for Mayor”. The court applied these words literally.

New Mexico Libertarians Finish Petition

The Libertarian Party of New Mexico has collected 6,800 signatures on its petition to get back on the ballot. Since 3,872 are required, this is probably enough. This is the first petition drive the Libertarian Party has completed anywhere in the U.S. in a year. By contrast, the Green Party has completed two during the last year (Louisiana and Utah).

New Hampshire Ballot Order Lawsuit Loses

On October 18, a lower New Hampshire state court upheld the law that gives the party that polled the most votes the top row (or the left-hand column) on the ballot. Akins v Secretary of State of New Hampshire, Merrimack Co., 04-E-360. The judge acknowledged that having the best spot on the ballot does help the party that enjoys that position, but still declined to require a random procedure to determine which party gets the best position.

The law that gives the best spot on the ballot to the party that polled the most votes, doesn’t specify which office. Therefore, the state adds up the vote for each party, for all the partisan offices on the ballot. The law has existed since 1994 and has always meant that Republicans get the best spot on the ballot.

Injunction Issued Against Georgia Photo ID Law

On October 18, a U.S. District Court judge in Georgia enjoined the state from enforcing its new law, requiring voters who vote at the polls to show a government-issued photo ID. The injunction is 124 pages long and seems to be based on the 24th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which forbids a poll tax or “any tax”. Georgia state ID costs $20. The state says it exempts the indigent, but the 24th amendment applies to all voters, not just indigents. Common Cause v Billups, 4:05-cv-201-HLM. If the ruling is not reversed on appeal, it may eventually have positive implications for states that require large filing fees (with no alternate means to get on the ballot) for all candidates except “paupers”.