New York Independence Party Internal Dispute Goes to Court

On February 16, the New York Supreme Court in Brooklyn heard arguments in Fulani v McKay, 4444-2006. The issue is whether the state officers of a ballot-qualified party may dissolve the county organizations of a party. In this case, Frank McKay, state chair, and his state committee, dissolved the Brooklyn, Queens and Bronx units of their own party, since he has political disagreements with those county units of his own party.

Maryland IRV Hearing Goes Well

On February 16, the Maryland State Senate that handles election law bills heard testimony on SB 292, which would implement Instant-Runoff Voting for all partisan elections in the state. The lead sponsor is Senator Paul Pinsky, who authored the ballot access reform back in the 1990’s. All witnesses who appeared in person testified in favor. The Committee will vote sometime later this month.

A Better, Older Congressional Bill on Public Funding

One bill on public funding of congressional candidates is HR 3099, which was introduced June 28, 2005 by Congressman John Tierney (D-Mass.). HR 3099 is mildly discriminatory. Nominees of parties that polled 25% of the vote in the last 5 years for president, governor, or US House in that district receive public funding for US House if they collect $5 contributions from at least 1,500 residents of their district. Independent candidates who had run before and polled 25% would also need 1,500 contributors. All other candidates would need 2,250 contributors. HR 3099 is far fairer than HR 4694 (see post about HR 4694 below, Feb. 2).

Calif. Supreme Court Excuses Inadvertent Errors in Initiative Text

On February 16, the California Supreme Court ruled that an initiative should not necessarily be removed from the ballot because of relatively minor errors (in this case, the minor error was that the proponents submitted one copy of their initiative to the Attorney General for review and for a title, and put a slightly different version on their petitions). The initiative in question was to provide for non-partisan redistricting (Prop. 77). The voters had defeated the measure in November 2005 anyway, but the Court still issued the opinion to decide the issue for future initiatives. The Court also said that when an initiative passes, it is not proper for it to be invalidated later on the grounds that the initiative procedures used by the proponents were improper.

This decision makes it virtually certain that the same court will not invalidate Prop. 60 (the Constitutional amendment passed in November 2004, giving political parties a State constitutional right to have the nominee who got the most votes in the primary, appear on the November ballot). This is good news for the minor party campaign to invalidate the restrictive rules that prevent write-in winners in their primaries from appearing on the November ballot; that will be settled in a future lawsuit that depends on Prop. 60.