Texas Tribune Carries Mark Miller’s Article on Texas Ballot Access
Richard Winger
 
Texas Tribune Carries Mark Miller’s Article on Texas Ballot Access

The Texas Tribune, an on-line news source, has this article by Mark Miller about Texas ballot access problems.
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Lawrence Lessig’s Organization, Equal Votes, Sues Four States to End Winner-Take-All Allocation of Electoral Votes
Richard Winger
 
Lawrence Lessig’s Organization, Equal Votes, Sues Four States to End Winner-Take-All Allocation of Electoral Votes

On February 21, Lawrence Lessig’s organization, Equal Votes, filed lawsuits against California, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Texas, alleging that these states’ decision to award electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Here is the Massachusetts complaint. The others are similar. All four are in U.S. District Courts in their own states.

The Massachusetts case is Lyman v Baker, 1:18cv-10327. One of the plaintiffs is William Weld. As the Complaint says, Weld is a registered Libertarian.

The California case is Rodriguez v Brown, c.d., 2:18cv-1422. The names and case number of the other two aren’t known yet.

Similar cases in the past in several states have not won. In Louisiana, the case was Lowe v Treen, 393 So 2d 459 (1981). In Alabama it was Hitson v Baggett, 446 F.Supp.674; 580 F.2d 1051 (1978 & 1979). In California it was Graham v Eu, 408 F.Supp.37 (n.d. 1976), affirmed 423 U.S. 1067. In Virginia it was Williams v Virginia State Board of Elections, 288 F.Supp. 622 (e.d. 1968), affirmed 393 U.S. 320 (1969). In Mississippi it was Penton v Humphrey, 264 F.Supp.250 (s.d. 1967). Also in 1966, thirteen states sued the other 37 states, arguing that all states must use districts to choose electors. That case was filed directly in the U.S. Supreme Court, but that Court refused to hear it. Delaware v New York, 385 U.S. 895.
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Tennessee Bill to Prohibit use of Ranked Choice Voting is Delayed
Richard Winger
 
Tennessee Bill to Prohibit use of Ranked Choice Voting is Delayed

The Tennessee Senate State and Local Government Committee had been set to hear testimony on SB 2271. However, on February 20 the Committee postponed the hearing to March 13. The bill, along with its companion, HB 638, prohibits any municipality from using ranked choice voting for its own elections. The voters of Memphis had voted to use ranked choice voting, but the city council is trying to negate that vote and actively worked to get these bills introduced.
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Pundits Talk About the Possibility of a New Major Party, or a Strong Independent Presidential Candidate
Richard Winger
 
Pundits Talk About the Possibility of a New Major Party, or a Strong Independent Presidential Candidate

The pundits at 538.com have a conversation about whether a new major party might arise, or whether there will be a strong independent presidential candidate in 2020 or the near future after that.
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Darcy Richardson Announces Candidacy for Florida Legislature as an Independent Candidate
Richard Winger
 
Darcy Richardson Announces Candidacy for Florida Legislature as an Independent Candidate

Darcy Richardson of Jacksonville, Florida, will be an independent candidate for the legislature this year. See this Florida Politics story. Darcy is the nation’s foremost historian of minor parties and independent presidential candidates, with approximately a dozen books published on that subject. He has also been an activist for better election laws for forty years.

He is running against an incumbent Democrat and he is likely to be her only opponent.
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New Hampshire Senate Defeats Bill Requiring Presidential Candidates to Submit Tax Returns

Richard Winger
 
New Hampshire Senate Defeats Bill Requiring Presidential Candidates to Submit Tax Returns

On February 15, the New Hampshire Senate defeated SB 362 by 10-14. It would have required presidential candidates in the presidential primary, and in the general election, to release their income tax returns for the last three years. It also said no presidential elector is permitted to vote for a candidate who had not released his or her returns. The bill had eleven sponsors, all Democrats (seven Senators and four Representatives).
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Arizona Bill Advances, Would Let Candidates Under Age 25 Run for State Elected Offices

Richard Winger
 
Arizona Bill Advances, Would Let Candidates Under Age 25 Run for State Elected Offices

On February 19, the Arizona House Appropriations Committee passed HCR 2036 by 7-6. It amends the state constitution to delete age requirements to run and hold state office. Currently members of the legislature and Governors must be at least age 25, and state judges must be age 30. The sponsor promised to amend his bill to insert age 21 as the limit, but the bill as passed sets an age 18 limit. The sponsor is Representative Anthony Kern (R-Glendale).

If this bill passes, then the voters would vote on the idea in November 2018.
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Pennsylvania State Legislators Will Try to Overturn New U.S. House Districts in Federal Court

Richard Winger
 
Pennsylvania State Legislators Will Try to Overturn New U.S. House Districts in Federal Court

Lyle Denniston writes that as early as Wednesday, February 21, Pennsylvania Republican legislative leaders will file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, arguing that under Article One, Section Four, state courts cannot be involved in drawing U.S. House districts. See this story.
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Kentucky Bill to Equalize Campaign Donation Limits Between Major and Minor Parties Becomes Law

Richard Winger
 
Kentucky Bill to Equalize Campaign Donation Limits Between Major and Minor Parties Becomes Law

On February 19, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin allowed HB 157 to become law, although he wouldn’t sign it. It increases the amount of money an individual may donate to a minor or unqualified party, so that now the limits are as high as the amount that may be donated to a major party. This is the first bill helping minor parties that was introduced in 2018 that has passed.
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Hearing Set on Nebraska Ballot Access Bill

Richard Winger
 
Hearing Set on Nebraska Ballot Access Bill

The Nebraska Senate Government, Military & Veterans Affairs Committee will hear LB 969 on Friday, February 23. It lowers the number of signatures for a non-presidential independent candidate from 10% of the number of registered voters to 4,000 signatures. That was the old law until 2016.
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U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Hear One of the Presidential Debates Cases

Richard Winger
 
U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Hear One of the Presidential Debates Cases

On February 20, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Johnson v Commission on Presidential Debates, 17-916. The other presidential debates case, Level the Playing Field v Federal Elections Commission, is still pending in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. A decision on that case could come at any time.
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Six Candidates to be On Mexico Presidential Election Ballot

Richard Winger
 
Six Candidates to be On Mexico Presidential Election Ballot

Mexico holds a presidential election on July 1, 2018. Three party nominees and three independent candidates are expected to be listed on the ballot. The three qualified parties are PAN, Morena, and PRI. See this story about the three independent candidates who qualified.
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Arizona Bill, Limiting General Election Ballot for U.S. Senate to Republicans and Democrats, Passes Committee

Richard Winger
 
Arizona Bill, Limiting General Election Ballot for U.S. Senate to Republicans and Democrats, Passes Committee

On February 13, the Arizona House Federalism, Property Rights & Public Policy Committee passed HCR 2022. If this bill passes the legislature, it would amend the State Constitution, so would go to a public vote in November 2018. It says that no more primaries are permitted for U.S. Senate. Instead, the only nominees in the November ballot for U.S. Senate would be four individuals chosen by state legislators. The bill does not explain whether write-ins would still be allowed in November for U.S. Senate.

The sponsors are Representative Travis Grantham (R-Gilbert) and Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley). The committee vote was 6-3.

The bill is clearly in violation of Williams v Rhodes, the U.S. Supreme Court decision which said that states cannot limit the general election ballot to just Republican and Democratic nominees. Thanks to Rick Hasen for this news.
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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Finalizes New U.S. House Districts for 2018

Richard Winger
 
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Finalizes New U.S. House Districts for 2018

See this post from the Election Law Blog, which says that on February 19, a holiday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court settled the 2018 boundaries of the state’s U.S. House districts. The Election Law Blog also has a small map showing the new districts.
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Pro-European Union Voters in Britain Form a New Political Party

Richard Winger
 
Pro-European Union Voters in Britain Form a New Political Party

A new political party in Great Britain, called the Renew Party, has already recruited candidates for the next Parliamentary election in 450 of the nation’s 650 districts, according to this story. The new party stands for keeping Great Britain in the European Union. Neither of the two major parties in Britain favor that policy.
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Virginia Republican Party Wins Lawsuit Over Who Gets to Decide Whether to Use Primary Or Convention

Richard Winger
 
Virginia Republican Party Wins Lawsuit Over Who Gets to Decide Whether to Use Primary Or Convention

The Virginia election law gives all parties the ability to decide whether to use a primary or a convention for any particular contest. But the law also says that when a party has an incumbent, then the incumbent, not the party, may make the final decision as to which method to use.

On January 19, 2018, a U.S. District Court struck down the law that lets incumbents dictate the nomination method. The case was filed by two subunits of the Virginia Republican Party and some Republican voters who are also party officers. Here is the 54-page decision in Fitzgerald v Alcorn, w.d., 5:17cv-16. The opinion is by Judge Michael F. Urbanski, an Obama appointee.

On February 5, Judge Urbanski stayed his own opinion, because the nomination for congressional candidates is about to begin in Virginia. Also Judge Urbanski noted this is a case of first impression and that it is conceivable that the Fourth Circuit will disagree with him. Thanks to Mark Rush for this news.
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Michael Smerconish Interviews Bob Krist About Nebraska Ballot Access

Richard Winger
 
Michael Smerconish Interviews Bob Krist About Nebraska Ballot Access

ON February 16, radio talk show host Michael Smerconish interviewed State Senator Bob Krist for 10 minutes, about Nebraska ballot access. Smerconish supports independent candidates and opened the interview by expressing dismay that Krist had abandoned his independent run for Governor and instead is seeking the Democratic nomination. Hear the interview at this link.

The 2016 Nebraska law change for the number of signatures needed by non-presidential independent candidates changed the law from 4,000, to 10% of the number of registered voters. Confusion about the exact number required in 2018 is because the law does not indicate the date of the registration tally, to figure out the number. Apparently the requirement is dependent on when the petition is submitted. Nebraska has a new tally of registered voters every month. Although the two men seemed to believe the requirement is approximately 120,000, is the petition were submitted on the due date, chances are it would require 130,000. The petition is due September 1. Probably if someone did comply with the requirement, the state would be hard pressed to check the signatures in time, if the petition were submitted on the deadline.

Senator Krist praises the Nebraska Democratic Party for allowing independents to vote in its gubernatorial primary in 2018. Smerconish expressed surprise that the party was permitted to make that decision. Smerconish had not previously known about the 1986 U.S. Supreme Court decision Tashjian v Republican Party of Connecticut, which said that parties can decide for themselves whether to let independents vote in their primaries.
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Newspaper Story Explains Why Membership of North Carolina Election Board is Still Unsettled

Richard Winger
 
Newspaper Story Explains Why Membership of North Carolina Election Board is Still Unsettled

This newspaper story explains the latest developments on determining who the board members are, on the North Carolina State Board of Elections. The Board still has staff and most of its functions are being carried out. For example, candidates have been filing to run in the Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian primaries. But the Board staff has taken the position that because there are no board members, the staff doesn’t have the authority to declare that the Green Party has complied with the law on how a party becomes qualified.
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So Far, No Republicans Have Filed in District of Columbia for Citywide Office

Richard Winger
 
So Far, No Republicans Have Filed in District of Columbia for Citywide Office

The District of Columbia holds partisan primaries for the Democratic, Republican, Green, and Libertarian Parties on June 19. The deadline for a candidate to file for those primaries is March 21. Each candidate needs a petition.

So far, there are candidates who have filed in three of the party primaries, but so far no one has filed for a citywide partisan office in the Republican Party. See the D.C. Board of Elections link to primary candidates so far. Links to the candidate filings are in the lower half of the page. The third link down is for the Republican primary.

The citywide offices are: Delegate to the U.S. House, Mayor, Chairman of the city council, at-large member of the city council, shadow U.S. Senator, shadow U.S. House member.
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Wyoming Bill to Clarify Which Signatures are Valid on an Independent Candidate Petition

Richard Winger
 
Wyoming Bill to Clarify Which Signatures are Valid on an Independent Candidate Petition

Wyoming law says voters can sign only one independent candidate petition for any particular office, but gives no guidance as to which signatures count, when a voter signs for more than one candidate. HB 40, introduced by the House Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Committee says that independent candidate petitions should ask the signer to record the date of signing. Then, if that voter signed for more than one, only the signature with the earlier date counts.

In 2016, many voters appear to have signed for Rocky De La Fuente, Jill Stein, and Evan McMullin. The Secretary of State counted the signature that was submitted first. Because De La Fuente and Stein submitted their petitions earlier than McMullin, McMullin was disadvantaged. Many of his otherwise valid signatures were disqualified because he didn’t submit his petition until the very last day.
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