Tennessee Makes it Harder for Write-in Candidates to be Nominated in Primaries

Ironically, in the same year in which Ohio and Pennsylvania Democrats took advantage of the ability to win primaries by write-in votes, Tennessee Democrats were making it more difficult for anyone to be nominated by write-in votes at primaries. On May 27 (Saturday), the last day of the Tennessee 2006 legislative session, a bill pushed by Democrats just barely passed. It changes the formula for the number of write-ins needed to win a primary, from 5% of the number of voters who turn out in that primary, to 5% of the number of registered voters. Thanks to Michael Morrison for this news.

Pennsylvania Democrats Nominate Candidates in Two Districts by Write-in Votes

Pennsylvania held primaries for the Democratic and Republican Parties on May 16. In both the 9th U.S. House district, and the 15th U.S. House district, no Democrat had appeared on the primary ballot. However, in both districts, a Democrat received enough write-in votes to be nominated. Pennsylvania law requires 1,000 signatures for a write-in candidate in a primary to be nominated. The write-in winners are Tony Barr in the 9th district, and Charles Dertinger in the 15th district. Thanks to Tony Roza for this news.

As reported earlier, on May 2, Ohio Democrats also used write-in votes to nominate a candidate for US House this year, in the 6th district.

Judges Reverses Himself on Foreign Languages on Petitions

On May 26, U.S. District Court Judge Gary Klausner (Los Angeles) revoked one of his own earlier rulings, on whether recall petitions need to be in languages other than English. Back on January 17, 2006, he had invalidated recall petitions in the city of Rosemead, California, because they had been printed only in English. 418 F Supp 2d 1174. But on May 26, he changed his mind and allowed the recall to go forward. His changed stance is due to the fact that an earlier 9th circuit opinion, also requiring other languages on recall petitions, is being reheard, and most observers expect that original ruling to be reversed as well.

Calif. Supreme Court Upholds Prop. 60

On May 25, the California Supreme Court unanimously upheld the validity of Proposition 60, passed by the voters in November 2004. Proposition 60 added a single sentence to the California Constitution, and that single sentence appears to make it easier for small qualified parties to nominate candidates by write-in vote at their own primaries. The single sentence of Prop. 60 is “A political party that participated in a primary election for a partisan office has the right to participate in the general election for that office and shall not be denied the ability to place on the general election ballot the candidate who received, at the primary election, the highest vote among that party’s candidates.”

This constitutional provision seems to invalidate sec. 8605 of the California elections code, which won’t let any party nominate by write-in vote at its own primary unless the write-in candidate receives a number of write-ins equal to 1% of the vote for that office at the last general election. This law has kept all parties, other than the Democratic and Republican Parties, from nominating any candidates by write-in at its own primary, ever since 1968. The qualified minor parties simply don’t have enough members to meet the threshold, which is approximately 100,000 write-ins for statewide office, and 2,000 for U.S. House.

Anti-Electoral College Bill Introduced in New York

On May 25, the National Popular Vote organization had its bill concerning presidential electors introduced in New York. It is AB 11563. Similar bills will probably receive votes in the lower houses of the California and Louisiana legislatures during the first week in June. The National Popular Vote organization (www.nationalpopularvote.com) is coordinating these bills around the U.S. They would provide that states join a compact. When states containing a majority of electoral votes had joined, the compact would go into effect. Member states would only appoint presidential electors who are pledged to the presidential candidate who got the most popular votes nationwide.