European Court of Human Rights says prisoners may vote

On October 7, the European Court of Human Rights ruled 12-5 that prisoners must be allowed to vote. The European charter guarantees the “right to free elections”, and the court construed that to mean that prisoners do not lose voting rights. The case had been brought by a British prisoner serving a term for manslaughter (the crime was committed in 1980).

New York City Election

New York city elects its 3 citywide partisan officers on November 8. In the Mayor’s race, eight candidates will be on the ballot. They are the nominees of the Republican, Democratic, Conservative, Socialist Workers, Libertarian and Green Parties, as well as two independent candidates. The Working Families Party has no nominee for Mayor, and the Independence Party cross-endorsed the Republican nominee.

For the two lesser citywide posts, no Republicans were able to qualify. The Comptroller’s race has nominees of the Democratic, Conservative, Working Families, Socialist Workers and Libertarian Parties. The Public Advocate’s race has nominees of only the Democratic, Conservative and Libertarian Parties, plus one independent candidate.

Georgia Lobbying Gathers Steam

The bill in the Georgia legislature to reduce the number of signatures needed for district office (US House, state legislature) and county office, from 5% of the registered voters, to 2% of the last vote cast, is gaining. There are now 10 members of the House who say they will co-sponsor it next year, when the legislature reconvenes. The bill is HB 527.

The Georgia petition requirement for US House, which has existed since 1943, is easily the most onerous ballot access law in the nation, since no party has been able to comply with it, in the 62 years it has existed. It is a scandal that the federal judges in Georgia have never been willing to invalidate it.

Calif. Special Election

On October 5, California held a special election for US House, 48th district. Since no one got 50%, there will be a run-off (featuring the top vote-getter from each of 5 parties) on December 6.

The unofficial October 5 results are: the 9 Republicans, together, polled 67.3% of all the votes cast. The 4 Democrats together polled 16.6% of the vote. The Constitution Party nominee, Jim Gilchrist, polled 16.1% (in California, the Constitution Party is called the American Independent Party). The Green nominee polled .9% and the Libertarian nominee polled .8%.

Some Post Office Petitioning Now OK

The Postal Service did not ask for a rehearing of the DC Circuit’s August 9, 2005 decision on postal petitioning. The time for requesting a rehearing has now expired. Therefore, it is now legal for circulators to use perimeter post office sidewalks (but not yet interior sidewalks). However, since not all postal employees may be aware of this, it would be worthwhile for anyone to know that the decision is called Initiative & Referendum Institute v US Postal Service, case no. 04-5045, and that the decision came down Aug. 9, 2005. For those who are ultra-cautious, it would be good to have a copy of that decision. The attorney for the Initiative & Referendum Institute can probably e-mail a copy of the decision to those who really need it. He is David Klein, dfklein@swidlaw.com. Let him know of any experience in which a postal employee bars petitioning in a perimeter sidewalk (perimeter sidewalk is one that is parallel to a public street, not a sidewalk leading from a post office itself to the post office parking lot).