The Maine Development Foundation held a public meeting at which all five gubernatorial candidates were invited to speak. The Democratic, Republican and Green Party nominees participated, along with one of the two independent gubernatorial candidates, Barbara Merrill. The event wasn’t quite a debate, because the candidates were restricted to answering questions from the panel and the audience.
The 6th circuit opinion of September 6, striking down Ohio’s ballot access law for new parties, will almost certainly help minor parties in Tennessee also. The 6th circuit includes Tennessee as well as Ohio. The aspects of the Ohio law that were unconstitutional are shared by Tennessee’ law.
In both states, the deadline for a new party to qualify are extremely early, and that was the core basis for the Ohio decision. Furthermore, both states share the characteristic that minor parties almost never get on the ballot.
Ohio requires a petition signed by 1% of the last vote cast, due in November of the year before the election. Tennessee requires a petition signed by 2.5% of the last gubernatorial vote. The law is so badly worded, no deadline is specified. Fifteen years ago the Tennessee Elections Director said the deadline is April of even-numbered years. But about 5 years ago, the Tennessee Elections Director said the deadline is approximately January 1 of an election year.
No party has completed the Tennessee petition since 1968, when George Wallace’s American Party did so. This is a far worse record than Ohio, where the new party petition was last completed in 2000.
Like Ohio, Tennessee refuses to let candidates who use the independent procedure (which is much easier) use a party label on the November ballot. Tennessee legislature did pass a bill in 1999 letting such candidates use labels for 2000 only, but that is no longer in force. Except for the experiment with party labels in 2000, no party label has been printed on a Tennessee ballot (other than “Democratic” or “Republican”) since 1972.
September 8 was the deadline for independent candidates to file for the North Dakota ballot. Two candidates submitted signatures for US Senate. One is the Libertarian nominee, Roland Riemers. The other is a true independent, James Germalic, who was also an independent candidate for U.S. Senate in Oklahoma in 2002.
On September 8, the New York State Board of Elections rejected a challenge to the Libertarian Party’s use of a picture of the Statue of Liberty on the ballot. New York and about 13 other states print party logos on their ballots. A voter had challenged the party’s continued use of the Statue of Liberty, on the grounds that the logo confused voters, since the Conservative Party’s logo is the torch of the Statue of Liberty. The State Board found no merit in the challenge. Both parties have been using the same logos in New York since 1988.
The federal court that is handling the New Mexico ballot access case will hold a hearing on September 29. Libertarian Party of New Mexico v Vigil-Giron challenges New Mexico’s requirement that after a party is qualified (to nominate candidates by convention), then it must submit a separate petition for each candidate so nominated. The party argues that since it already submitted a petition to qualify the party itself, there is no state interest in requiring any more petitioning.
The Labor Party petition for South Carolina ballot access has enough valid signatures, and the party will be on the ballot in that state for 2007 and 2008. This is the first time the Labor Party (founded in 1990) has ever qualified for the ballot in any state. The party is backed by some AFL-CIO unions.