In Connecticut, as in most states, an independent candidate is free to choose a partisan label (if it is short and doesn’t mimic the name of a qualified party). U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman’s independent petition will use the label “Connecticut for Lieberman”. If Lieberman loses the primary on August 8, he will submit his petition on August 9 and would then be on the November ballot under that label. Since it is certain that he would then poll at least 1% of the vote, that would establish the “Connecticut for Lieberman Party” after November 2006. The state would keep a tally of how many voters became registered members of this “party”, and it would have automatic ballot status for the U.S. Senate election in 2010 (it would nominate by convention). Of course it wouldn’t be a bona fide party, just a pro forma party.
North Carolina Senate Bill 88, a bill that was introduced last year and which initially made favorable changes, seems unlikely to pass. Last year, after it had passed the Senate, the House converted it into a bill that did more harm than good. This month, the Senate held some hearings on it, but now seems to have lost interest in moving it forward.
Eventually the North Carolina legislature will be forced to pass some bill on ballot access, since in 2004 the statewide independent procedure was declared unconstitutional. It happens that there are no statewide races in North Carolina this year, but there are plenty of them in 2008. Under the U.S. Supreme Court precedent McCarthy v Briscoe, if the legislature doesn’t fix the law, then any statewide independent candidate in 2008 who can show a modicum of support, can go to court and get put on the ballot automatically.
On July 10, the 3rd Circuit heard Rogers v Cortes, 06-2241. This is the Pennsylvania ballot access case. Pennsylvania has 5 qualified parties (Republican, Democratic, Green, Libertarian and Constitution), but treats the parties that have fewer than 1,212,000 registered voters as though they weren’t qualified, for ballot access purposes. This means the latter three parties must submit 67,000 signatures this year to have their statewide nominees on the ballot, even though they all polled enough votes in 2004 to meet the “party” definition.
The panel was composed of Judges Jane Roth, D. Brooks Smith, and Ruggero Aldisert. Judge Roth already has a very good record on ballot access. Judge Smith, who has never had a ballot access case, seemed to believe that since the parties met the vote test in 2004, they shouldn’t be required to submit petitions in 2006. However, Judge Aldisert seemed to think it wasn’t important that the parties had met the vote test in 2004.
The Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition held a rally across the street from the courthouse, before the hearing, and has already received TV coverage in Philadelphia.
On June 17, the Maine AFL-CIO endorsed Maine state Representative John Eder for re-election. This is the first time the AFL-CIO has endorsed a Green Party nominee for state legislature when there was a Democratic nominee also in the race. The AFL-CIO, or various component parts of it, has also been giving official support to the Working Families Party in certain states, and the Labor Party in South Carolina. This increasing interest on the part of the AFL-CIO in parties other than the two major parties is highly significant, and the national mainstream news media is missing the story.
On July 7, Frank Zeidler died at the age of 93. He had been the Mayor of Milwaukee between 1948 and 1960. He was a lifelong member of the Socialist Party, and he was always considered to be a Socialist Party politician. However, Milwaukee city elections were technically non-partisan. Zeidler was a much-loved figure during his term of office and since then. He was also the Socialist Party’s presidential candidate in 1976.
On July 7, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Melvin Westmoreland blocked the relatively new Georgia law that requires voters to present government-issued photo ID’s, in order to vote at the polls. Assuming the injunction stands, the old law, requiring ID (but not necessarily government-issued photo ID) will be in force instead. Lake v Perdue, Fulton Co. Superior Court, 2006-cv-119207.