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Alabama: federal court upholds petition deadline

Richard Winger writes (and attaches this opinion in Swanson v. Worley): Dear Ed, it's your state, so you should know about this decision today. It's abysmal. The two US Supreme Court decisions about early petition deadlines are Mandel v Bradley, and Anderson v Celebrezze. The only 11th circuit decision on petition deadlines is New Alliance Party v Hand. Judge Thompson didn't mention any of those cases. He relied on Jenness v Fortson, but in Mandel v Bradley, Justice John Paul Stevens warned lower courts not to assume Jenness v Fortson means anything for deadlines (anything in Jenness about deadlines is just dicta, since the Socialist Workers Party didn't complain about the June petition deadline).

Under Mandel v Bradley, early petition deadlines are unconstitutional if the record shows that minor parties and independent candidates seldom qualify. The deadline was mid-July before 2001. Since it was moved to the first week in June, in 2001, no minor party or independent candidate has managed to qualify for statewide office (president is an exception, since the presidential deadline is early September and presidential independents only need 5,000 signatures, not the 41,000 that other independents, and all minor parties, need for statewide office.

Richard is the editor of Ballot Access News and knows ballot access cases backwards and forwards. Just this last weekend, I asked him a question about Jenness v. Fortson, and he referred me to his article on the case (1 Elec. L. J. 235 (2002)).

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