Washington Secretary of State Sponsors Bill to Require Minor Party & Independent Candidates to Show Triple Support

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed has written a bill (introduced as SB 5604 and HB 1534) that requires minor party and independent candidates to show popular support three ways before they can qualify for the general election.

First, each candidate needs a petition. Statewide candidates would need 1,000 signatures; US House candidates 500; legislative and county candidates would need 100.

Second, each candidate must pay a filing fee of 1% of the annual salary of the office.

Third, and most strangely, each candidate then goes on the primary ballot (except for presidential candidates) and must poll a minimum number of votes in the primary, in order to be placed on the general election. The minimum number of primary votes equals the number of signatures each had to get.

What is peculiar is that Washington now has separate primary ballots for each major party. It isn’t clear what primary ballot the minor party and independent candidates would appear on, and who would vote on such ballots.

The bill has an obvious drafting error. Whereas on page 14 it says the minor party and independent candidates need a certain minimum number of primary votes, on page 2 it says they don’t appear on the primary ballot.

Washington Secretary of State Sponsors Bill to Require Minor Party & Independent Candidates to Show Triple Support

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed has written a bill (introduced as SB 5604 and HB 1534) that requires minor party and independent candidates to show popular support three ways before they can qualify for the general election.

First, each candidate needs a petition. Statewide candidates would need 1,000 signatures; US House candidates 500; legislative and county candidates would need 100.

Second, each candidate must pay a filing fee of 1% of the annual salary of the office.

Third, and most strangely, each candidate then goes on the primary ballot (except for presidential candidates) and must poll a minimum number of votes in the primary, in order to be placed on the general election. The minimum number of primary votes equals the number of signatures each had to get.

What is peculiar is that Washington now has separate primary ballots for each major party. It isn’t clear what primary ballot the minor party and independent candidates would appear on, and who would vote on such ballots.

The bill has an obvious drafting error. Whereas on page 14 it says the minor party and independent candidates need a certain minimum number of primary votes, on page 2 it says they don’t appear on the primary ballot.

The Final Chapter in Cobb-Badnarik 2004 Recount Requests

After the November 2004 election, the presidential nominees of the Green Party and the Libertarian Party jointly requested a recount of the presidential vote in New Mexico and in Ohio.

Both states had relatively nominal fees for requesting a recount. But elections officials in both states were determined to thwart the requests. In New Mexico, the state retroactively increased the fee ten-fold and a lower court said that was OK. The two candidates couldn’t afford the $1,400,000 new fee for the recount, so they dropped their request, and the voting-counting machines were then reprogrammed so that any recount would be impossible. Later, on May 16, 2006, the New Mexico Supreme Court said the two candidates should have received the recount they had requested after all, but, of course, by then it was too late.

In Ohio, the recount supposedly went ahead. Under the law, a few precincts were supposedly to be randomly chosen. A hand count of these randomly-chosen precincts was then to be compared with the machine total. If they matched, no further recount in that county was needed. On January 24, a jury convicted two Ohio elections officials of rigging the recount. Instead of randomly choosing precincts, they first identified a few precincts in which the hand-count and the machine-count matched. Then they claimed that those precincts had been the randomly-chosen ones; and since totals matched, no further recount of other precincts was needed. As in New Mexico, it is too late to do anything about it.

Romanelli Loses Fee Lawsuit in Commonwealth Court

On January 25, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ordered Carl Romanelli to pay $80,408 within 30 days. Since Romanelli has very few assets, the order also makes Romanelli’s attorney, Larry Otter, equally liable for the money.

Carl Romanelli was the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate last year from Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, petitions are assumed to be valid, unless someone challenges them. Democrats challenged Romanelli’s petition. The Pennsylvania challenge procedure is handled by courts, not elections administrators, so Romanelli is being billed $48,285 in fees for Democratic Party attorneys, $25,481 in court costs, $5,141 in copying and stenography fees and $1,500 for handwriting experts. Romanelli had submitted 95,000 signatures to meet a requirement of 67,070, but only 58,000 of those signatures were considered valid. He will appeal this decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He also has an appeal pending in the U.S. Supreme Court over the procedures used for checking signatures in the challenge process.

Virginia Bill Would Impose Big Filing Fees on Top of Petitions

Virginia House of Delegates member Leo Wardrup introduced HB 3157 on January 19. It would impose mandatory filing fees on all non-paupers who petition their way onto a general election ballot, or a primary election ballot. The fees would be 2% of the annual salary. Congressional filing fees would be approximately $3,300. The bill exempts presidential candidates.

The US Supreme Court said in 1972 and in 1974 that filing fees for non-paupers are constitutional if they are for the purpose of keeping the ballot uncrowded. However, Virginia already has difficult petition requirements for that purpose.

Wardrup is a Republican from Virginia Beach. He has been in the legislature since 1991 and is considered one of the more powerful members. He is chair of the Transportation Committee. He says he is worried that the November ballots will be crowded, because in 2006 the legislature passed a bill letting cities move their city elections from May to November, and therefore November ballots may be very lengthy since they will have federal offices and city offices both.

US Supreme Court Conference of Feb. 16 Will Consider 3 Election Law Cases

On February 16, the U.S. Supreme Court conference will consider whether to take any of these election law cases: (1) Lopez Torres v N.Y. State Board of Elections; (2) Romanelli v Election Board; (3) Protect Marriage Illinois v Orr.

The New York case was won in the court below; the other two cases were lost in the courts below. Lopez Torres concerns ballot access onto a primary ballot. The Romanelli case challenges Pennsylvania’s procedures for rejecting signatures on petitions. Protect Marriage challenges Illinois procedures for rejecting signatures on initiative petitions.