Lower State Oklahoma Court Upholds Ballot Access Law

On July 3, a state district court in Oklahoma upheld that state’s ballot access laws for new and minor political parties. Judge Bryon Dixon issued a one-sentence opinion, saying that since a federal court in 1988 had upheld that law, therefore that opinion controls. Of course this is not correct. The lawsuit, Libertarian Political Organization v Clingman, 04-2949 (Oklahoma County) is based on the Oklahoma Constitution, which says, “Elections shall be free and equal”. The U.S. Constitution does not have any such explicit protection. The Libertarian Party is not surprised by Judge Dixon’s one-sentence opinion, and will now appeal to the State Supreme Court.

No lower state court judge has ever ruled that a state law, regulating the number of signatures needed for a new party to get on the ballot, is unconstitutional. When minor parties and independent candidates have won such constitutional cases in state courts, they have always had to depend on that state’s highest state court to have the courage to make such a ruling. Lower state judges are always too timid.

In 2004, Oklahoma voters were the only U.S. voters who could not vote for president unless they voted for George W. Bush or John Kerry. No one else was on the ballot, and write-ins are not permitted.

Oregon "Top-Two" Initiative Turns in 93,154 Signatures

The Oregon initiative to limit the general election ballot to only two choices submitted 93,154 signatures on July 7, the deadline for Oregon initiatives to qualify. 75,630 valid signatures are required. The campaign for the initiative scrupulously eliminated all duplicate names before submitting its petition, and is expressing cautious optimism that it has enough signatures, since volunteers collected most of the signatures, and volunteers usually have higher validity rates than paid circulators. The state probably won’t announce until early August whether the initiative has enough valid signatures.

Oregon “Top-Two” Initiative Turns in 93,154 Signatures

The Oregon initiative to limit the general election ballot to only two choices submitted 93,154 signatures on July 7, the deadline for Oregon initiatives to qualify. 75,630 valid signatures are required. The campaign for the initiative scrupulously eliminated all duplicate names before submitting its petition, and is expressing cautious optimism that it has enough signatures, since volunteers collected most of the signatures, and volunteers usually have higher validity rates than paid circulators. The state probably won’t announce until early August whether the initiative has enough valid signatures.

Davis, California Voters to Vote on IRV

On July 11, the Davis (California) city council voted 3-2 to put an advisory question on the November ballot. The Davis voters will be asked to vote on whether they desire Instant-Runoff Voting for City Council elections. Davis is best known for being the location of one of the larger campuses of the University of California, and is approximately 10 miles southwest of Sacramento.

ACLU Sues New Mexico Over Ballot Access

On June 11, the ACLU Voting Rights office sued New Mexico over the law that requires qualified minor parties to submit separate petitions for each of their nominees. Libertarian Party of New Mexico v Vigil-Giron, 06-615. The case was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Martha Vazquez, a Clinton appointee. New Mexico is the only state that requires a new party to submit one petition to qualify itself, and then completely separate petitions for each of that party’s nominees (who would have been nominated by convention). A new party that wanted to run a full slate of candidates for all partisan offices would need approximately 250,000 valid signatures.

Lieberman Chooses a Ballot Label

In Connecticut, as in most states, an independent candidate is free to choose a partisan label (if it is short and doesn’t mimic the name of a qualified party). U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman’s independent petition will use the label “Connecticut for Lieberman”. If Lieberman loses the primary on August 8, he will submit his petition on August 9 and would then be on the November ballot under that label. Since it is certain that he would then poll at least 1% of the vote, that would establish the “Connecticut for Lieberman Party” after November 2006. The state would keep a tally of how many voters became registered members of this “party”, and it would have automatic ballot status for the U.S. Senate election in 2010 (it would nominate by convention). Of course it wouldn’t be a bona fide party, just a pro forma party.