All Democratic and Republican Write-in Candidates in California Failed to Qualify for November Ballot

California held its primary last month. There were 2 US House races in which one of the major parties had no one printed on the ballot, but in which the party backed a particular write-in candidate in its own primary. Also, there were 3 legislative races like that. None of the 5 major party members received enough votes to qualify for the November ballot. This is because California has one of the nation’s most severe write-in thresholds for candidates who seek to be nominated by write-in at a party primary.

It seems fairly likely that at least one of the candidates plans to sue to overturn the write-in threshold. The California Constitution now says that a party may not be denied the right to have the person who received the most votes in its primary, placed on the November ballot. The State Constitutional provision seems on its face to cover all kinds of votes, write-in votes as well as votes for a person whose name had been printed on the primary ballot.

Nebraska Supreme Court Won't Hear "Sore Loser" Write-in Case

On July 12, the Nebraska Supreme Court refused to hear Rodgers v Heineman. This was the case filed by voters who wish to have their write-ins counted for Tom Osborne for Governor, in November. Osborne had lost the Republican primary in May. He has no interest in being a write-in candidate in November, but his passionate supporters wanted to cast a write-in for him anyway. State law says only write-ins cast for someone who filed a write-in declaration of candidacy will be counted. Also, another law won’t let primary losers file such a declaration of write-in candidacy.

Nebraska Supreme Court Won’t Hear “Sore Loser” Write-in Case

On July 12, the Nebraska Supreme Court refused to hear Rodgers v Heineman. This was the case filed by voters who wish to have their write-ins counted for Tom Osborne for Governor, in November. Osborne had lost the Republican primary in May. He has no interest in being a write-in candidate in November, but his passionate supporters wanted to cast a write-in for him anyway. State law says only write-ins cast for someone who filed a write-in declaration of candidacy will be counted. Also, another law won’t let primary losers file such a declaration of write-in candidacy.

Michigan Likely to Change Presidential Primary

On July 14, influential Democratic and Republican state legislators and party officials agreed to work for a different type of presidential primary in Michigan in 2008 and future elections.

Past Michigan presidential primaries have been secret-party- choice primaries. However, what is likely for 2008 is a presidential primary in which the voter must publicly choose a particular party’s primary ballot. Both types of primary are “open primaries” under the classic definition of “open primary”.

Under the 2008 proposal, the parties will then have access to the list of voters that chose their party’s primary. The bill to accomplish this change hasn’t been introduced yet, but it is about to be introduced.

Although Michigan has 6 qualified parties, only the Democratic and Republican Parties have their own primaries; the other qualified parties nominate by convention. The Democratic and Republican Parties want a presidential primary in which voters must publicly choose the primary ballot they wish to vote in. They feel that, under such a system, “strategic voting” will be minimized. Democrats believe that the old secret-party-choice system was responsible for George Wallace winning their 1972 primary (Democrats believe that many Republicans voted for Wallace, just to make trouble for the Democratic Party).

Ohio Congressional Independent Removed from Ballot because he Voted in Republican Primary

On July 14, at the last possible hour, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell removed Charlie Morrison from the November ballot. Morrison had qualified as an independent candidate for U.S. House in the 15th district (the district now represented by Republican Deborah Pryce). His petition had been verified.

However, he was challenged because he had voted in the Republican primary earlier this year. Ohio state law does not say independent candidates must not have voted in a party primary. Section 3513.04 only says they must not have run for office in a party primary.

Ohio is a state in which the voter registration form does not ask voters to indicate party affiliation. However, Ohio elections officials keep a record of which party’s primary ballot a voter chooses. Morrison was running on a platform of cutting federal spending, and most political observers felt his candidacy was more damaging to the Republican incumbent member of Congress, than to the Democratic nominee.

When a candidate is challenged, the local Boards of Election vote. In Morrison’s case, the two Republican Board members voted to remove him, and the two Democratic members voted to retain him. The law provides that in case of a tie, the Secretary of State shall decide. Morrison will sue.