On April 15, a unit of the Virginia Republican Party filed a federal lawsuit, to enforce a party bylaw. The bylaw says no one can vote in the Republican primary if they voted in the Democratic primary for the preceding 5 years. Current Virginia state law requires that all primaries be open to all registered voters; Virginia has no registration by party. Miller v Brown, 3:05cv-266, eastern district.
On April 15, the New Hampshire Senate Public Affairs Committee voted against HB 154, the bill that would have forced independent voters who want to vote in a primary to affiliate with that party.
On April 15, the Alaska Supreme Court released an explanation of why it removed the Republican Moderate Party’s candidate for U.S. Senate last year. State of Alaska v Metcalfe, S-11618.
The court ruled that Alaska’s old definition of “party” is constitutional. The old definition (which was changed in 2004, and which is in the process of changing again) was a group that had polled 3% for Governor, or which had registration equal to 3% of the last gubernatorial vote. The Republican Moderate Party did not fulfil either of these hurdles. However, in September 2004, a lower court had put that party on the ballot. The lower court had ruled that since independent candidates only need a petition of 1%, the state could not require parties to meet a higher standard. But the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that since parties have more impact on the ballot than a single independent candidate does, the state is justified in having a higher threshold for a qualified party, than for a single independent candidate.
On April 21, the Pennsylvania Governor’s Task Force on Election Reform formally voted to include this recommendation: “That the Election code be amended to provide greater access to the ballot for minor political parties and political bodies.” The vote was 12 to 0, with one abstention.
On April 9, HB 3002 passed the legislature. Among other election law changes, it deletes provisions held unconstitutional in 2003 that required circulators to tell people that if they sign a petition for a minor party or independent candidate, they can’t vote in that year’s primary.
On April 15, the Campaign Finance Institute released a set of recommendations for altering federal campaign finance. Included is a recommendation that individual campaign contributions to minor party and independent presidential candidates, for the purpose of ballot access, should not be limited. Under current law, individual contributions to federal candidates are limited to $2,150.