Utah Sets Out Rules for Getting on Ballot for Special U.S. House Election

On May 19, the Utah state elections office released guidelines for candidates who want to run for U.S. House, 3rd district. The special election will be held November 7, 2017. It is needed because of the resignation of Congressman Jason Chaffetz.

Qualified parties can easily place a nominee into this special election. They would nominate by convention. The qualified parties are Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Constitution, and Independent American. The state’s guidelines provide no means for a new party to get on the ballot in time for this election, something that is probably unconstitutional.

Independent candidates can run with 300 signatures, obtained by June 12. Individuals who want the nomination of a ballot-qualified party, and who do not enjoy support at the party meeting, can try to get on that party’s primary ballot, but the petition is extraordinarily difficult. It requires 7,000 signatures of party members (if that party allows independents to vote in its primaries, then independents can also sign). They are due June 12. Utah has 645,215 registered Republicans, and has four U.S. House districts. The exact number of registered Republicans is not known, but if one divides the number of registered Republicans in the state by four, then one can assume that there are approximately 161,304 registered Republicans in the Third District. To get 4.3% of the eligible signers to sign in only 24 days is almost certainly unconstitutional.

Alabama Legislature Passes Bill that Lists Crimes that Cause Loss of Voting Rights

The Alabama Constitution, since 1901, has said that a person convicted of a crime of “moral turpitude” loses the right to register to vote, unless he or she is absolved later. For many years, attempts have been made to persuade Alabama state courts to define “moral turpitude” so that the law is applied uniformly across the state, and so that individuals can know their rights. However, all those attempts have failed.

Finally, the legislature has passed a bill listing the crimes that are considered to be “moral turpitude” crimes. HB 282, by Mike Jones (R-Andalusia), passed the House unanimously on March 9 and passed the State Senate unanimously on May 17.

Colorado Governor Signs Bill on How New Semi-Closed Primaries Will Work

On May 18, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed SB 305. It sets out the details on how Colorado’s new semi-closed primaries will work. In 2016 the voters passed an initiative, saying that independents may choose any party’s primary ballot. However, the initiative did not specify all the details. The bill provides that when an independent asks for a party primary ballot, a record will be kept of his or her choice. That voter will be considered a member of the party whose primary ballot was chosen, but only for a year. Then that voter will be again deemed to be an independent, unless of course the voter fills out a new voter registration form and chooses a party.

California Assemblymember Withdraws His Bill to End Ban on Communist Party State Employees, Even Though it had been Passing

On May 17, California Assemblymember Rob Bonta withdrew his AB 22, even though it had passed the Assembly a few days earlier. It repeals an old law that says Communist Party members are not eligible to be state employees. See this story. Bonta said he is withdrawing the bill because it is causing mental anguish among some members of the Vietnamese community.

The law is not enforced. The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated all laws similar to this one decades ago.

Maine House Defeats Bill that Would Have Deprived Petitioning Candidates of Any Ballot Label Except “Unenrolled”

Maine, and half the other states, let a candidate who petitions onto the November ballot choose any short partisan label that does not mimic the name of a qualified party. On May 18, the Maine House defeated LD 568. It would have eliminated the ability of such candidates to have any label on the ballot except “unenrolled”. The vote was 71 in favor of the bill and 76 against.