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:
On March 9, HB 1567 was introduced in Florida. It makes the procedures for minor party presidential candidates more specific than they were in 2004, but doesn’t make them any more difficult. Old law, which is very lenient, says any qualified party can put a presidential nominee on the November ballot if it submits a list of presidential elector candidates (all of whom must be registered voters in the party), and if it holds a national convention, and if it is a “national political party.”
The only changes made by HB 1567, relating to presidential elections, are to define two terms, “national political party” and “national convention.” “National political party” is a party that is on the ballot in at least one state other than Florida. “National convention” is “any caucus, convention, meeting or any other assembly of a political party gathered, whether or not such meeting is held in person or by telephonic or electronic means, with the intent of nominating candidates for President and Vice President of the U.S.”
HB 1429, the Oklahoma ballot access reform bill, seems dead for this year. The House Rules Committee on March 8 again refused to hear the bill, so it cannot pass this year, although it is technically still alive and could theoreticallly pass next year. It is also possible that the contents of the bill could be amended into another election law bill.
In the meantime, the Oklahoma Libertarian Party lawsuit against the ballot access laws for parties is moving ahead. A status conference was held last week, and deadlines have been set for the introduction of evidence. A trial will be held late this year.
An Associated Press story of March 8, about political parties in China other than the Communist Party, can be read at this link. China permits certain government-approved political parties (other than the Communist Party) to exist. However, they are not permitted to carry on election campaigns.
This morning, the New York Times editorialized that New York state should buy optical-scan vote-counting machines, not touch-screen voting machines. Here is a link to the editorial, which is markedly clear and persuasive.