On June 27, the national Voting Rights office of the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Arkansas, over the number of signatures needed for a new or minor party to get on the ballot. Green Party of Arkansas v Daniels, 4:06-cv-758. The statutory law says a new party needs a petition of 3% of the last gubernatorial vote, which would be 24,171 signatures. However, in 1996, a federal court ruled that since Arkansas only requires 10,000 signatures for statewide independent candidates (for office other than president), there is no rational reason for Arkansas to require more than 10,000 signatures for new parties. The state filed an appeal in the 1996 case, but then dropped the appeal, yet refuses to recognize the existence of the 1996 ruling. The new lawsuit will request a court order, forcing the state to obey the 1996 ruling.
On June 27, the Arkansas Secretary of State ruled that independent gubernatorial Rod Bryan qualified for the November ballot. Bryan is the first independent candidate for Governor of Arkansas to be on the ballot since 1938. Back in 1938, an independent candidate for any office only needed 50 signatures. The current requirement is 10,000.
Bob Knight, former Mayor of Wichita, Kansas, will probably be an independent candidate for Governor of Kansas this year. He said on June 24 that he has supporters who want to collect the needed 5,000 signatures for him, and he has told them “go ahead”. Thanks to Politics1 for this news.
The number of states this year with independent or minor party candidates for Governor who have held fairly important elected or appointed office in the past, is unprecedented. These states include Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Texas.
June 26 is the petition deadline for minor party candidate petitions in Illinois. Two parties filed: Green and Constitution. The state law requires 25,000 signatures for statewide nominees, but state law also says that all petitions are deemed acceptable, whether they have the minimum number of signatures or not. So both parties will be on the ballot, unless there is a challenge. The Green Party believes that its 39,000 signatures will survive a challenge, since they were collected very carefully. The Constitution Party is very vulnerable to a challenge,, since its petition had only 4,500 signatures.
On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Vermont’s campaign finance restrictions. Randall v Sorrell, 04-1528. The lead plaintiff, Neil Randall, had been elected to the Vermont legislature as a Libertarian, although he had also won the Republican nomination as well. Later he changed parties from Libertarian to Republican, and was re-elected solely as a Republican.
The ruling struck down Vermont’s expenditure limits, on the basis that the Supreme Court had already thrown out expenditure limits back in 1976. More significantly, it also said Vermont’s contribution limits are too low, especially the limit on how much money a political party may contribute to its own nominees. The Court said, “We agree with the District Court that the Act’s contribution limits ‘would reduce the voice of political parties’ in Vermont to a ‘whisper.’ The law let parties contribute only $200 to any particular nominee.
The League of Women Voters just held a national convention in Minneapolis. The national League passed a resolution that says, “The League supports only voting systems that have a voter-verifiable paper ballot or other paper record that is the official record of the voter’s intent, that the voter can verify while in the process of voting”.