On April 19, the Ohio Supreme Court refused to rehear State ex rel Fockler v Husted, 2016-1863, one of the Libertarian Party’s ballot access cases. This case involved whether the Gary Johnson vote in November 2016 created a new ballot-qualified party. The request for reconsideration had been pending since January 2017.
The court made no comment, except to say the request is denied. The effect of this three-month wait for a response from the court has been very bad for the Ohio Libertarian Party. It made it more difficult for the party to raise the funds to pay for the 2018 petition, because donors were hesitant to donate because there was some hope that the Supreme Court would grant reconsideration. The Libertarian Party, and any other group that wishes to be a qualified party in 2018, needs 54,965 valid signatures by July 2018. The Green Party is already on the ballot for 2018 because it polled more than 2% for Governor in 2014. Libertarians were on the ballot in 2014, but not for Governor.
The Libertarian Party 2018 petition for 2018 does have approximately 20,000 signatures so far. The Libertarian Party also has a case pending in the Ohio State Court of Appeals as to whether the 2013 ballot access law violates the Ohio Constitution. The Ohio Constitution appears to mandate primaries for all parties, but the 2013 law says newly-qualifying parties are not provided with a primary.
Here is a link to the Georgia Secretary of State’s web page, for unofficial election returns for the April 18 special U.S. House election, 6th district. As of the moment this blog post is being written, no results are in, but they will be soon. Parties don’t have nominees in Georgia special elections, and the Secretary of State’s web page does not list party labels, even though party labels are on the ballot.
Probably no one will get as much as 50%, and so a June run-off will be needed. All the candidates are Republicans, except for five Democrats and two independents. The five Democrats are Jon Ossoff, Ragin Edwards, Richard Keatley, Rebecca Quigg, and Ron Slotin. The two independents are Alexander Hernandez and Andre Pollard.
On April 18, the California Senate Elections Committee heard two important election law bills. SB 568 moves the primary for all office (in presidential years) from June to March. SB 149 requires presidential candidates to reveal their tax returns or be barred from the ballot. It is clear that both bills will pass later today, as soon as absent Democratic State Senators return to the committee room and cast their votes.
SB 149 involves complex issues of constitutional interpretation. The U.S. Supreme Court held in 1995 that states cannot add ballot access requirements to control how politicians behave. That decision, U.S. Term Limits v Thornton, struck down an Arkansas ballot access law that barred three-term members of Congress from getting on the ballot for a fourth term. The decision says the framers of the Constitution intended the qualifications listed in the U.S. Constitution to be the only qualifications, and says states can’t add other qualifications. Yet no one testified against SB 149. The law professor who testified in favor, Professor Abby K. Wood, didn’t even mention U.S. Term Limits in her testimony. The only U.S. Supreme Court case she mentioned is Anderson v Celebrezze. She seemed to believe that if states have a good reason to require exposure of tax returns, then the states may use ballot access laws to insist that they are revealed.
SB 568, by moving the primary for all office (in presidential years) to March or even earlier if the Governor desires an earlier primary, forces all candidates for Congress to file in the odd year before the election. No state has ever had a system that forced all candidates for congress to file in the odd year before the election, except that Arkansas briefly had such a law in place, until it was struck down in Libertarian Party of Arkansas v Martin last year. There are almost 60 constitutional lawsuit decisions that have struck down early deadlines, for minor party or independent candidates, on the theory that states cannot freeze the status quo by forcing all candidates for such an important office to file a year or so before the election itself.
Only one witness, C. T. Weber of the Peace & Freedom Party, testified on SB 568 and mentioned this aspect of the bill. The few Senators in attendance listened politely but his testimony did not ilicit any questions or comments. Only one person, Kim Alexander, testified in favor of the bill.
On April 19, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey called a special U.S. Senate election for December 12, 2017. The previous Governor, who was in office until earlier this month, had refused to call such an election until November 2018. See this story. Thanks to Mike Drucker for this news.
If any independent candidate, or any unqualified party, wishes to participate in this election, 35,413 valid signatures must be submitted by August 15. It would be possible to argue that the state should reduce the number of signatures, given that less than four months remains to gather these signatures, whereas normally a petition may take as long as the circulating group wishes. However, the state is not at this time voluntarily reducing the number of signatures.
On April 18, United Kingdom prime minister Theresa May announced that the country will hold a general parliamentary election on June 8, 2017. The decision is a surprise. The contrast between the United States and the United Kingdom could hardly be more pronounced, in the variable of advance knowledge of election dates. In the United States, if there were a general election set for June 8, 2017, federal law would require that ballots be sent to overseas absentee voters no later than April 24, which is only six days away. Obviously the U.S. needs months and months more preparation than the United Kingdom.
British parties already have chosen their national leaders some time ago, so that makes a snap election somewhat easier. But the British parties still need to choose their parliamentary candidates. British ballot access is so simple and uncomplicated, that helps also. Candidates for House of Commons need 10 signatures and a filing fee. All candidates are treated equally, relative to ballot access.
On the evening of April 17, the Ninth Circuit refused to put any more candidates on the Montana ballot, in the May 25 special U.S. House election. The Court order does not contain any explanation of why. The Green Party candidate, Thomas Breck, had gathered over 400 valid signatures on Sunday, April 9, in response to the District Court’s order of April 8 setting 400 as the threshold. But the District Court in effect created a retroactive requirement, because it hadn’t changed the deadline, which was before the court order had come down.