6th Circuit Upholds March 1 Petition Deadline for Independents

On November 29, the US Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 that Ohio may require independent candidates (for office other than president) to submit petitions by March 1 of an election year. Lawrence v Blackwell, 04-4022. The decision is only 6 pages long. It did not mention the US Supreme Court decision most relevant, Mandel v Bradley. Mandel v Bradley said early independent candidate petition deadlines are unconstitutional when the historical record shows that few independents qualify. In Ohio, no independent candidates qualified for congress in 17 of the 18 districts in 2004, and that was in the record. Earlier years are similar. The decision also failed to mention that 5 justices of the US Supreme Court this year said in Clingman v Beaver that courts should give heightened scrutiny to ballot access laws. And the decision failed to mention that in Anderson v Celebrezze, on page 805, the Court said that the political system works better when independent candidates are allowed to qualify after the major parties have chosen their nominees.

Louisiana Congressional Timing

On November 28, the paperwork was filed in federal court in Louisiana, to determine whether the state’s new law on congressional timing is contrary to federal law.

In 1997 the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Louisiana could not continue holding its congressional elections in September. Louisiana, the only state that uses the “top-two” system, had been holding congressional elections in September. Only in the rare cases when no one got 50% did Louisiana hold a run-off (which was held in November).

A federal law, on the books since 1872, tells the states they must have congressional elections in November. If a state desires the winner to always be someone who got 50%, the states may hold a run-off after the November date. After Louisiana lost the case, it started holding the first round in November. If a run-off was needed, it was in December.

But in 2005, the legislature passed a law reverting to the old illegal September-November system. The only difference between the 2005 law, and the old law that was invalidated, is that the new law says anyone elected in September is “deemed” to have been elected in November. Most neutral observers feel that the U.S. District Court which has jurisdiction of this old case will tell the legislature that the 2005 law is just as illegal as the old law was. The case is now in front of U.S. District Court Judge Frank Polozola. It is called Foster v Love.

Two Additional Parties Won Partisan Elections on Nov. 8

Besides the instances listed in an earlier post, two other minor parties won partisan elections on November 8, 2005. In Connecticut, the Chatham Party elected five candidates to the town council of East Hampton. The other two seats on the council were won by Republican nominees. The party takes its name from the old colonial name for East Hampton.

In Pennsylvania, the Prohibition Party re-elected Jim Hedges, its nominee for Thompson Township (Fulton County) Assessor. Besides being the Prohibition Party nominee, Hedges also won the major party nominations by write-ins at their primaries. Therefore he was unopposed in November.