House Bill 453 has been introduced in the New Mexico legislature. Among other things, it moves the petition deadline for minor party nominee-petitions from mid-July to early June. New Mexico legislators seem blissfully oblivous to the need to abolish nominee-petitions. New Mexico is the only state in the nation which requires one petition to qualify the party, and then additional petitions for each of that new party’s nominees. The same system was declared unconstitutional in Maryland in 2003. Minor party representatives presented this information last year to a commission organized to reform the election laws. But the information seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
On January 27, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that minor technical problems with petitions should not keep candidates off the ballot. The Court ordered two candidates for Judge of the Criminal Appeals court onto the Republican primary ballot. In re Holcomb, 06-40, and In re Francis, 06-42. One candidate was 5 signatures short (he needed 700) and one candidate made a typographical error on his petition.
On January 27 (Friday), late in the day, U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson declared unconstitutional the ballot access requirements for candidates seeking a place on major party primaries, for the office of Delegate to Judicial Nominating Conventions. The law required 500 signatures in each Assembly District. New York has 12 districts for electing State Supreme Court Justices, and each district contains between 9 and 24 Assembly districts (or parts of Assembly districts). Therefore, people who wanted a major party nomination for Supreme Court Justice needed to organize slates of candidates for Delegate to the nominating conventions, and then petition to get these slates on the primary ballots. To do this, they need between 4,500 valid signatures, and 12,000 valid signatures, depending on which district they are running in. Only 37 days were permitted to get these signatures. Torres v N.Y. State Bd. of Elections, 04-cv-1129.
On January 24, Ralph Nader asked the entire 6th circuit to rehear his ballot access case against Michigan. The issue is whether the Secretary of State should have placed him on the ballot as the Reform Party nominee in 2004. The Reform Party was ballot-qualified, but Michigan refused to list any of its nominees (for any office) because of an internal dispute over the party officers.
Owners of a Utah coal mine sued the Militant (newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party) for libel last year. The case is in federal court in Salt Lake City. The hearing set for January 25 was postponed until February 17.
On January 31, the New Hampshire House Elections Law Committee will hold a hearing on HB 1385, which would lower the vote test for the definition of “party”, from a vote of 4% for Governor or US Senator, to a vote of 2%. It would also lower the number of signatures for statewide minor party and independent candidates from 3,000 to 2,000. The hearing is at 1 p.m. in room 308 of the Legislative Office Building.