Michigan Bills To Eliminate or Curtail Statewide Partisan Elections for Educational Offices

Every even-numbered year, voters in Michigan choose eight statewide candidates for various educational offices, in partisan elections. There are always two seats for State Board of Education, and six seats for the governing bodies of state universities. Several bills are pending to either eliminate these elections, or restrict them to only mid-term year elections.

The bills will be heard on Thursday, Feb. 15, in committee. They are HB 5515, HB 5516, and HB 5533. If the legislature passes them, they would not go into effect unless the voters approve a constitutional amendment.

If those elections were entirely eliminated, that would make it somewhat more difficult for qualified parties to remain on the ballot. In 2016, without those educational offices, the only statewide office on the ballot would have been President. All parties had to poll at least 16,491 votes for a statewide office in order to remain on. In 2016 the Constitution Party (which in Michigan is the US Taxpayers Party) only got 16,139 votes for President, so it would have gone off the ballot. The Natural Law Party would also have gone off the ballot. Thanks to John Anthony LaPietra for this news.

New Hampshire House Election Law Committee Defeats All Bills to Improve Ballot Access

On February 13, the New Hampshire House Election Law Committee defeated all bills that would have eased ballot access. The vote was 20-0 in some cases, and 18-2 in other cases. The committee also defeated bills to use Ranked Choice Voting or Approval Voting.

The ballot access bills were: HB 1479 would have let small qualified parties nominate by convention; HB 1239 would have let voters sign multiple petitions to create new parties; HB 1448 would have made it easier for a party to remain on the ballot; HB 1568 would have allowed a group to become a qualified party by persuading at least 1% of the registered voters to register into that new party. Thanks to Darryl Perry for this news.

Pennsylvania Legislature Draws New Districts, but Governor Won’t Submit the New Plan

Pennsylvania currently has no valid U.S. House district boundaries. Last week the legislature prepared a redistricting plan, but on February 13 Governor Tom Wolf said he will not submit the legislature’s plan to the State Supreme Court. The plan is just a plan, not a bill. Presumably this means the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania will prepare its own plan. See this story.

The filing deadline for candidates running in a primary is March 20, 2018.

Illinois Ballot Access Cert Petition Appears on U.S. Supreme Court Docket

The Illinois Green Party’s ballot access case Tripp v Scholz now has a U.S. Supreme Court docket number, 17-1129. If the state wishes to respond to the cert petition, it must due so by March 14. The case concerns ballot access for the legislative candidates of unqualified parties. In 2016, Illinois was one of three states that had no third party candidates for the legislature on the ballot (not counting a handful of states that didn’t have legislative elections in 2016). The other two were North Dakota and South Dakota.