Cobb-Badnarik Request for Ohio Recount Wins a Round in Court

Today, U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus, of Columbus, Ohio, temporarily let the Ohio presidential election recount go forward. That recount had been requested by David Cobb and Michael Badnarik. State ex rel Delaware Co. Bd. of Elections v National Voting Rights Institute, David Cobb & Michael Badnarik, no. C2-04-1139.

Last week, a state court judge in Delaware County had issued an injunction against the recount, but attorneys for Cobb and Badnarik removed that case to federal court. The federal court will hold a further hearing, but in the meantime the recount may proceed.

Montana Constitution Party Legislative Win Now a Tie; State Politics Set for a Wild Ride

Yesterday, a recount in Montana’s state house district 12 showed a tie between Rick Jore, the Constitution Party candidate, and his Democratic opponent. Jore accepts the recount as fair, but the Democrat does not.

This creates a wild and confusing situation. A tie would result in a “vacancy,” allowing the Governor to choose the winner. The current Governor is a Republican, but she will be succeeded by a Democrat next month. The disputed seat is the deciding vote in a split legislature: if Jore wins, the Republicans will control the State House. If the Democrat wins, the State House will be tied and the Speaker of the House will be chosen by the same party as the incoming Governor, a Democrat.

Democratic candidate Jeanne Windham went to court yesterday and received an injunction blocking the Secretary of State from certifying the election and blocking the Governor from appointing a winner.

Judge Dorothy McCarter will hold a hearing on the issue December 10. In addition, Democrat Windham said she intends to file a separate legal action asking state courts to throw out five disputed ballots. On each of the disputed ballots, voters made marks for both Jore and the Republican in the race, Jack Cross. Lake County election officials and the local recount board, however, decided to count the votes for Jore. They said marks on the ballot indicated the voters intended to vote for Jore. On four of the ballots, the voters also marked an “X” on Cross’s name. On a fifth ballot, the voter placed a squiggly line next to Cross’s name. Windham and state Democratic officials said if it’s not clear which candidate the voters are choosing, state law requires the ballot to be thrown out. If any of these ballots are disqualified, Windham wins the race. Chuck Denowh, executive director of the Montana Republican Party, said Windham’s claim is “pretty frivolous,” and that he thinks voters who cast the disputed ballots clearly intended to choose Jore.

High Court Refuses to Hear Write-In Case

On November 29, the US Supreme Court refused to hear the Terry Baum case, Baum v Superior Court, no. 04-416. The issue is whether write-ins should count if the voter didn’t check the box next to the name that the voter had just written in. The case originated in the Green Party congressional primary in March, 2004, in San Francisco.

The court’s refusal to hear the case was discouraging for Donna Frye, who probably received more votes than any other candidate on November 2, 2004, for Mayor of San Diego. Frye was credited with 155,454 write-in votes. Incumbent Mayor Dick Murphy received 157,938 votes, and the other candidate whose name was printed on the ballot, Ron Roberts, got 141,874.

However, there were at least 4,500 write-in votes in the San Diego Mayoral election which were never counted, because the voter didn’t check the box next to the name written in. Probably at least 95% of them were for Donna Frye, so if the votes had been counted, Frye probably would have won.

The League of Women Voters had sued to require that all San Diego write-ins be counted, by a California Superior Court Judge had ruled against the League on November 22. League of Women Voters v McPherson, no. 838890. Donna Frye, as a real party in interest in that lawsuit, is free to appeal if she wishes. She has not formally announced whether she will appeal.

Libertarian Party Candidate Wins Partisan Run-Off in Georgia

Last night, a Libertarian Party nominee won an important county partisan election in Georgia.

Ben Brandon won the run-off election for Dade County Executive. He beat the Republican candidate 1,614 to 845. Brandon received 33% of the vote in the November 2 election for the partisan office. The Republican candidate received 40% and the Democrat received 27%. This is the first time Dade County voters are electing a County Executive, so there is no incumbent. Previously, the post was a hired position.

It was the first time any Libertarian had won a partisan election in that state. It is also the first time any minor party has won any partisan election in Georgia since 1968, when George Wallace’s American Party carried the state in the presidential election. It may even be the first time a minor party has won a partisan election in Georgia (for office other than president) in over 100 years. The Peoples Party was very strong in Georgia in 1898, but odds are no minor party has won a partisan race in Georgia for county office since that year.

Georgia Libertarian in Run-Off for Partisan Office

The Georgia Libertarian Party candidate for Dade County Executive is in a run-off election Tuesday, November 23.

Ben Brandon received 33% of the vote in the November 2 election for the partisan office. The Republican candidate received 40% and the Democrat received 27%. This is the first time Dade County voters are electing a County Executive, so there is no incumbent. Previously, the post was a hired position.

Brandon is given a good chance of victory in the run-off. He has extensive activity in the community and local business and has received the endorsement of Republican State Representative Brian Joyce, in spite of the fact that Brandon’s opposition is a Republican. Also, it has been reported that local Democratic leaders are urging vote for Brandon.

Victory in NY Party Registration Lawsuit

Today the 2nd circuit affirmed a 2003 decision of a US District Court, and agreed that New York state must let voters register as members of parties that are not qualified parties. Green Party of NY v NY State Bd. of Elections. Now, parties that manage to place a statewide nominee on the ballot will have the right to a list of all voters who register into that group. At the present time, groups that may receive such a list are the Green, Libertarian, Socialist Workers Parties (of course, the qualified parties of New York also have access to such a list; they include the Democratic, Republican, Independence, Conservative and Working Families Parties).

The decision will be useful in a planned lawsuit against Iowa, one of only two states that still will not permit anyone to register into a nonqualified party (the other such state is Kansas). There are also a handful of states that physically permit voters to register into unqualified parties, but refuse to keep a tally of such voters).