On March 15, a write-in candidate for Mayor of Baxter Estates, New York was elected. The write-in candidate, John Maher, is a member of the Independence Party.
Maher defeated the incumbent Mayor. The incumbent Mayor, James Neville, was the only candidate whose named was printed on the ballot. The Maher write-in candidacy was a “stealth” candidacy. The incumbent Mayor did not realize that a write-in campaign was being run against him. New York does not have a requirement that write-in candidates must file a declaration of write-in candidacy before the election (except that New York does have such a requirement for write-in presidential candidates).
On March 15, the First Circuit, which includes Puerto Rico, ordered a rehearing in Igartua v United States, 04-2186. The plaintiffs insist that the U.S. Constitution, as well as international treaties signed by the U.S., requires the United States to let Puerto Rican citizens vote for president. The Puerto Rican plaintiffs had lost the case on October 14, 2004, by a vote of 2-1. Now the entire First Circuit will rehear the case.
The order setting up the rehearing wants the attorneys to address the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Inter-American Democratic Charter of the Organization of American States, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United States signed all three agreements, and pledged not to discriminate against any group of adult citizens in voting.
HB 94 passed the Alaska House State Affairs committee on March 15. It sets up procedures for independent presidential candidates to get on the ballot (Alaska has never had such procedures).
Also, it changes the vote test for a party to remain on the ballot in gubernatorial election years. Currently, in gubernatorial years, the vote test requires that a party poll 3% for Governor. The bill would change this to let a party remain on if it polls 3% for any of these races: governor, US Senate, or US House.
HB 94 also changes the alternate registration test for a party to remain on, from 3% of the last vote cast, to 2% of the total number of registered voters. 3% of the last vote cast is 9,258; 2% of the number of registered voters is 9,479. The Green Party tried very hard to persuade the committee to set the registration test at 1%, not 2%, but did not succeed.
The only minor party that as many as 9,479 registrations is the Alaskan Independence Party, but the Libertarians are working to increase their registration to that level.
On March 15, the California Assembly Elections Committee passed AB 43 by a vote of 4-1. It says that if a voter write-ins in a candidate but forgets to “X” the box next to the write-in line, the write-in is still valid. However, elections officials need not tally such votes unless there is a recount.
On March 14, Maine LD329 passed the Legal & Veterans Affairs Committee unanimously. Since the bill passed unanimously, it is likely to pass on the floors of both houses (in Maine, committees include members of both houses, so the bill has no more committees to pass).
LD329 makes it easier for a party to get and remain on the ballot. Current law says a party can remain on the ballot if it polled 5% for the office at the top of the ticket, in either of the last two elections. The bill keeps that provision in place, but adds an alternative, that the party has registration equal to 1% of the state total. If the party attains or keeps that registration, it need not worry about meeting the vote test.
In these four states, groups are working to improve that state’s ballot access laws. Here are links to their web sites: