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April 8, 2014

Replacement candidate -- legal or not?

Qualifying for Alabama's party primaries closed about a month ago. Elbert Peters was the only one to qualify to run as a Republican in HD 53 (in Madison County). After the qualifying deadline passed, Peters found out that he did not live in the district, so he resigned as a candidate. The GOP wants to replace Peters.

Not so fast. There is a federal court consent decree in which the Secretary of State (a Republican) represented by the Attorney General (a Republican) agreed with the big, bad U.S. DOJ (not Republican) to stretch out the election calendar. In particular, the proposed consent decree (later adopted by Judge Myron Thompson) states: "Notwithstanding the provisions of Ala. Code § 17-13-23, vacancies in nominations must be filled by the State or county executive committees not later than 76 days before an election." (US v. State of Alabama, Case No. 2:12-cv-179-MHT-WC, Middle District of Alabama, doc. 110-1) Since the primary is 3 June, the 76-day deadline was 19 March.

The Democrats have protested.

We will have to see what happens.

July 19, 2013

Rep. Hubbard wants to run in special election for another House seat

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: It's a question of time and place, with two very different interpretations.

The Alabama secretary of state's office said Thursday that the current boundaries of House District 74 - being vacated at the end of the month by Rep. Jay Love, R-Montgomery - will be the boundaries used for a special election expected to be called for the seat.

That could be an issue for Rep. Joe Hubbard, D-Montgomery, who has purchased a home within the new District 74 boundaries and is considering entering the special election. Hubbard's residence, while in the newly created boundary lines for the 2014 general election, is outside the current lines. ...

Hubbard said Thursday he has not made a decision whether to run in the special election, though he plans to seek the seat in next year’s general election. However, he said that the law as written would allow him to run, and he accused Republicans of trying to make his race for the seat more difficult. -- Read the whole story --> Law may bar Joe Hubbard from running for House seat vacated by Jay Love | The Montgomery Advertiser | montgomeryadvertiser.com

June 21, 2013

GOP official does not want felon running for Congress on GOP ticket

AL.com reports: Can Stephen Nodine mount a campaign for Congress from jail?

Not if one Republican Party official has a say about it.

Matt Simpson, chairman of the Baldwin County GOP, said he intends to challenge any attempt by Nodine to qualify with the party as a candidate in the special election for Alabama?s 1st Congressional District seat.

"Having plead guilty to a felony charge of perjury, a crime for which he is currently serving his sentence, Mr. Nodine does not represent the principles and qualities necessary to represent the Republican Party in south Alabama," Simpson said today. "I would oppose his qualifying on our party ticket."

Nodine, a former Mobile County Commissioner who is now serving a two-year jail term on perjury and harassment charges, announced Wednesday that he is considering a bid for Alabama's 1st District congressional seat. -- Read the whole story --> Stephen Nodine for Congress? Not so fast, says GOP official | al.com

December 14, 2012

Three from GOP, none from Dems for SD 35 special election

AL.com reports: Three Republican candidates qualified Wednesday to run for the state Senate District 35 seat vacated Dec. 4 by Ben Brooks of Mobile.

The Alabama GOP said Jim Barton, Bill Hightower and Nick Matranga filed paperwork by Wednesday's 5 p.m. deadline. The candidates will seek the party's nomination in the Jan. 29 primary election.
No candidates qualified with the Alabama Democratic Party Wednesday. But a party spokesman said that Democrats expect to draft a candidate before today's 5 p.m. deadline to certify with the Alabama Secretary of State's office.

"We had a pretty big fish on the line until about 3 p.m.," said Bradley Davidson, executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party. "We will certify someone (Thursday)."

Gov. Robert Bentley set the special election to fill the seat held by Brooks, who resigned effective Dec. 4 following his election as a Mobile County circuit judge. Brooks, a Republican who held the Senate seat since 2006, will be sworn in Jan. 11. -- Read the whole story --> Three Republicans qualify for state Senate District 35 special election | al.com

November 30, 2012

Write-in candidate wins in Hale County probate judge election

The Tuscaloosa News reports: The controversial battle for the Hale County probate judge position was settled after a successful write-in campaign by challenger Arthur Crawford Sr.

Crawford won the Democratic primary, but was disqualified after rulings that he didn't follow new campaign finance reporting rules. He launched a write-in campaign and defeated three-term incumbent Leland Avery at the polls earlier this month. Crawford was certified as the winner on Nov. 16. His 3,729 votes surpassed Avery's 3,353 and Republican challenger Bob Hoggle's 1,409. ...

In the April Democratic primary runoff, Crawford won 80 more votes than Avery, but Avery challenged the results, stating that the challenger didn't comply with new campaign finance disclosure laws that require weekly reports to be filed during a runoff. -- Read the whole story --> Crawford declared probate judge | TuscaloosaNews.com

September 8, 2012

Candidate for Hale County probate judge ruled ineligible to run

The Tuscaloosa News reports: A circuit judge has declared Hale County Democratic probate judge nominee Arthur Crawford ineligible for the November general election because he didn't file timely campaign finance reports during the spring primary runoff against incumbent Leland Avery.

A Hale County Democratic Party official said Avery was certified as the nominee on Wednesday. Avery said he sent the certification with his name on the Nov. 6 ballot against Republican Bob Hoggle.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Charles Price on Tuesday ruled Crawford ineligible and ordered Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Mark Kennedy to revoke Crawford's certificate of nomination "due to his admitted failure to" timely file campaign finance reports. -- Read the whole story --> Hale County probate judge nominee is ineligible | TuscaloosaNews.com

August 18, 2012

Democrats disqualify Harry Lyon for Alabama Supreme Court

The Birmingham News (al.com) reports: The Alabama Democratic Party disqualified Harry Lyon as its nominee for chief justice after a hearing today over online comments the Pelham lawyer made that party officials deemed improper for a judicial candidate.

Lyon said afterward he would file a lawsuit and seek criminal charges against the party chairman, Mark Kennedy, alleging that Lyon fraudulently was deprived of his $3,000 filing fee.

"The Alabama Democratic Party committed suicide today," Lyon said. "The party now officially is in the grave."

Four members of the State Democratic Executive Committee unanimously agreed to remove Lyon for comments critical of Republican justices, homosexuals and supporters of gay marriage, ruling he violated canons of ethics for judges and judicial candidates. -- Read the whole story --> Lyon says Alabama Democratic Party "in the grave" after his disqualification from court race | al.com

August 16, 2012

Dems may book Harry Lyons from the ballot

The Birmingham News (al.com) reports: Harry Lyon said he expects to be tossed out as the Democratic nominee for chief justice when a state party committee meets Friday over online comments by the Pelham lawyer.

A five-member committee of the Alabama Democratic Party will convene in Birmingham to hear evidence, then decide if Lyon, a frequent candidate, should be kicked off the ballot for violating party bylaws and judicial ethics canons. ...

The charges relate to recent posts by Lyon on Facebook that bash the Republican nominee, Roy Moore; criticize President Obama's support for gay marriage and call its proponents sick and perverted. ...

If Lyon is removed Friday, the State Democratic Executive Committee will set a schedule for new hopefuls to qualify and seek executive committee approval, Bradley said. -- Read the whole story -->Alabama Democrats to decide on disqualifying Harry Lyon as party's chief justice nominee | al.com

July 26, 2012

Indian Springs mayoral race reduced to one because of failure to file Ethics Commission statement

The Shelby County Reporter reports: Current Indian Springs Town Council member Stewart Dudley is ineligible for this year's mayoral race after failing to submit required paperwork, according to current Mayor Steve Zerkis.

By state law, all elected officials in Alabama are required to submit a completed statement of economic interest each year to the Alabama Ethics Commission, Zerkis said through an email. A statement of economic interest is a public document used to disclose financial interests.

This year's deadline to submit the statement was April 30, Zerkis said. ...

Officials with the Alabama Ethics Commission confirmed that Dudley has not submitted a statement of economic interest and is not qualified for the municipal election. -- Read the whole story --> Dudley not qualified for Indian Springs mayoral race | Shelby County Reporter

July 17, 2012

GOP rejects challenge to its candidate

The Huntsville Times (al.com) reports: An Alabama Republican Party committee tonight rejected a complaint challenging Huntsville attorney Linda Coats' nomination for a district court judgeship. ...

The Alabama GOP issued a statement following the meeting.

"The challenge spelled out three accusations against Ms. Coats," the news release said. "First, that she failed to file a document with the Supreme Court. That accusation is factually wrong. Ms. Coats filed the proper paperwork in a timely manner as acknowledged by the office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court.

"Second, the complaint cites the 'Sore Loser' Standing Rule of the Alabama Republican Party, adopted 1994. The 'Sore Loser' provision is to keep the loser of a Republican Primary from running in the ensuing General Election as an Independent or a third party candidate. Therefore the Candidate Committee has determined Ms. Coats has not violated the 'Sore Loser' provision.


"Third, the complaint alleges that Ms. Coats did not fully disclose information during the question and answer session of her interview. After review, the Committee is satisfied with Ms. Coat's presentation and does not need further clarification." -- Read the whole story --> Alabama GOP committee rejects complaint over Linda Coats' district judge nomination (updated) | al.com

July 11, 2012

Republicans contitnue to fight over judicial candidate in Madison County

The Huntsville Times (al.com) reports: Four Huntsville attorneys have filed an expanded complaint to the Alabama Republican Party seeking to have Linda Coats disqualified as the party nominee for a Madison County District Court judgeship.

Attorneys Amy Creech, Bill Hall, Dinah Rhodes and Amy Slayden submitted the petition last week asking for Coats' disqualification or reconsideration of Coats' candidacy.

Coats, who won the GOP primary in March with just under 50 percent the vote, was selected out of a field of seven candidates by the Alabama Republican Party candidate committee last month. She was chosen after Chris Messervy, who defeated her in the GOP runoff, was disqualified in May for a late campaign finance disclosure filing. ...

The new complaint said Coats is in violation of the canons if her filing was submitted Oct. 31, 2011, as the clerk reported. The canons require the filing to occur within 10 days of qualifying as a judicial candidate. The complaint said qualifying didn't open until Nov. 14 and the petitioners say they don't have any information Coats submitted a filing within 10 days of her actual qualifying date. -- Read the whole story --> Group of lawyers wants GOP to disqualify Linda Coats as Madison County judge nominee | al.com

June 30, 2012

Maybe Coats can run after all

The Huntsville Times (al.com) reports: An effort to disqualify GOP judge nominee Linda Coats based on an alleged failure to file financial disclosures with the Alabama Supreme Court appeared to have been upended this afternoon.

A spokeswoman for Alabama Supreme Court Clerk Robert Esdale said that his Thursday statement that the office didn't have any record of Coats' filing was based on a search of 2012 filings.

A search of 2011 filings today located the proper submissions that Coats filed in October 2011, the spokeswoman said. -- Read the whole story --> Effort to disqualify GOP judge candidate Linda Coats hits roadblock, disputed records found (updated) | al.com

June 29, 2012

Lawsuit claims new GOP candidate did not file reports on time

The Huntsville Times (al.com) reports: Less than a week after an Alabama Republican Party committee selected Linda Coats to be the party's nominee for a Madison County district court judgeship, a group of lawyers has filed a complaint seeking Coats' disqualification.

Coats was selected last Saturday from a field of seven candidates after the original nominee, Chris Messervy, was disqualified for failing to file a campaign finance disclosure form on time. That complaint was filed by two Coats' supporters.

Under Alabama law, a candidate cannot be certified as a nominee or election winner if they fail to file financial disclosures on schedule. ...

The complaint alleges Coats did not file a statement of economic interests and a disclosure statement of financial interests with the clerk of the Alabama Supreme Court. The complaint notes that under the state's canons of judicial ethics, judge candidates are supposed to submit the filings within 10 days of qualifying to run for office. -- Read the whole story --> Lawyers file complaint seeking to have new GOP judge nominee Linda Coats disqualified | al.com

June 16, 2012

GOP rescinds nomination of candidate, now in jail on sex charges

The Birmingham News (al.com) reports: The Alabama Republican Party's candidate committee voted this evening to remove Chuck Hunter as its nominee for the Place 11 judicial seat on Jefferson County Circuit Court, rejecting his offer to step down if the party refunded his qualifying fee. ...

Party officials called on Hunter to quit the race, and sent him a certified letter ordering him to end his candidacy by Monday or face action by the Alabama Republican Party Candidate Committee.

Hunter's lawyer told party officials late this afternoon that he would quit if his $2,400 qualifying fee was refunded. The candidate committee voted at 5 p.m. today to reject Hunter's offer and rescind his nomination for the Place 11 seat, said Chris Brown, chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. ...

The party has the right to pick a replacement nominee, which it must do before the first ballots go to print July 19. The replacement would be chosen by the 21-member candidate committee. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama GOP votes to rescind nomination for Jefferson County judicial candidate Chuck Hunter | al.com

June 15, 2012

GOP candidate arrested on sex charge; party wants him to withdraw

The Birmingham News (al.com) reports: The Alabama Republican Party today set an official deadline for Chuck Hunter to withdraw from a race for Jefferson County Circuit Court judge, as the Birmingham lawyer remained jailed on charges of soliciting a minor for sex.

The letter gave Hunter until Monday to withdraw from the race in the Nov. 6 general election against Houston Brown, the incumbent judge in the civil division seat based in Birmingham.

Otherwise, Hunter would face action by the party's candidate committee, T.J. Maloney, the state party executive director, said in a statement. ...

Bill Armistead, the state party chairman, called on Hunter to withdraw, "in light of recent developments and coupled with Mr. Hunter's previous support of candidates and issues in opposition to the values of the Republican Party," the state party said in a statement Thursday. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama Republican Party to candidate facing child-sex charges: Quit campaign by Monday | al.com

May 21, 2012

Alabama GOP picks a judicial candidate to replace a disqualified candidate

The Huntsville Times reports: The Alabama Republican Party will pick Madison County's next district court judge in Montgomery on June 29, through a committee with only one Madison County resident. The party committee will deliberate and vote behind closed doors.

There is no Democrat running for the seat, and Chris Messervy, who got 61 percent of the vote in the April 24 runoff, was disqualified two weeks ago. ...

Messervy was removed as the party's nominee after it was found he filed a campaign financial disclosure form late and on the day of the primary. The matter was raised to the GOP's candidate committee by two supporters of Huntsville attorney Linda Coats, who Messervy defeated in the runoff. ...

The party gave the judge applicants until June 15 to submit answers to a questionnaire, a résumé and letters of recommendation. The candidates also must pay a $2,378 fee to be considered. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama GOP selection of Madison County judge will occur in Montgomery, behind closed doors | al.com

April 22, 2012

"Alabama must allow minor parties on ballot"

Richard Rutledge writes in an op-ed in the Birmingham News: On June 1, 2011, Alabama House Bill 425 was signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley. The law moved the Alabama primary date from June to the second Tuesday in March.

The change also moved the petition deadline for newly qualifying parties and nonpresidential independent candidates to the same date. The new law effectively made qualifying as a non-Republican or non-Democrat in 2012 much harder in a state that already ranks dead last in many categories pertaining to ballot access.

The bottom line: If you wish to run as an independent presidential candidate in Alabama in 2012 under this new law, you have to produce just 5,000 signatures on a petition by Aug. 30 to qualify. However, if you choose to run for president under the banner of a minor party or for any state office on anything other than the GOP or Democratic Party ticket, you must produce a whopping 45,000 signatures of registered voters in this state by the primary date.

This is simply unacceptable and must be challenged. -- Read the whole column --> MY VIEW, Richard Rutledge: Alabama must allow minor parties on ballot | al.com

March 28, 2012

Another write-in for Chief Justice

The Mobile Press Register reports: Mobile lawyer Ginger Broadway Poynter said she's launching a write-in campaign for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. ...

There are no qualifying deadlines -- and very few requirements -- for write-in candidates, according to the Alabama Secretary of State's office. General election ballots include a space for voters to write in a candidate's name. Poynter said she's planning to ask voters to write in only her first name -- Ginger -- because it is easy to remember and is distinguishable. -- Read the whole story --> Mobile lawyer launches write-in bid for Alabama chief justice (Political Skinny) | al.com

Etowah County Democrats to fill a vacancy on ticket

The Gadsden Times reports: Etowah County Commissioner Perry Gwin said Tuesday he's withdrawn his candidacy for re-election.

Gwin, a two-term commissioner first elected to the District 2 seat in 2004, said he sent a letter to Probate Judge Bobby Junkins and Etowah County Democratic Party Chair Whitt Torbert to withdraw from the race. ...

The county's Democratic Executive Committee will select and approve a replacement to run for the office. -- Read the whole story --> Etowah commissioner Gwin withdraws candidacy | GadsdenTimes.com

A write-in candidate for Supreme Court

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Attorney Melinda Lee Maddox, who sued a decade ago to have the Ten Commandments monument removed from the state judicial building, is launching a write-in campaign for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court to keep the man who had the monument placed there from returning to that position. ...

Maddox, who practices law in Mobile, said she has been a criminal defense attorney for almost 20 years and has taught constitutional law. ...

Maddox, in an email to the Advertiser, wrote that she filed paperwork Monday to name her campaign committee and filed a statement of economic interest with the Alabama Ethics Commission.

Maddox wrote that people can write in “Lynndi,” which she said is what people call her, on the ballot. -- Read the whole story --> Attorney launches write-in campaign for Ala. chief justice | The Montgomery Advertiser | montgomeryadvertiser.com

March 18, 2012

Oh, poor me ... the "insiders" are moaning about Roy Moore and Harry Lyon

The Birmingham News reports: The general election matchup for Alabama chief justice between Democrat Harry Lyon and Republican Roy Moore apparently have some so unhappy that they are mulling over possible options that might give voters another choice.

That possible other choice might come from someone who runs as an independent, said a number of political insiders who in recent days have been part of conversations about seeking an alternative to Moore and Lyon.

The concerns about both Moore and Lyon are not new but now that both men have won nomination for chief justice, the concerns have taken on a new urgency, said those with knowledge of the discussions. -- Read the whole story --> Alabama political insiders consider an 'anybody but Roy Moore or Harry Lyon' candidate | al.com

My comments: All this wailing has as much effect as a hound dog's baying does on the moon. All the talk of an independent candidate is just hot air. It is too late to qualify an independent candidate. Independent candidates' petitions were due to the Secretary of State by 5 p.m. on the day of the first primary, which was 13 March. Ala. Code § 17-9-3.

If the "insiders" want to do something, they are going to have to get Lyon or Moore out of the race. Ala. Code § 17-13-23 says, "The state executive committee [of a political party] ... where a vacancy may occur in any nomination, either by death, resignation, revocation, or otherwise, ... may fill such vacancy, either by action of the committee itself or by such other method as such committee may see fit to pursue."

Judge Howard Hawk qualifies as independent

The Huntsville Times reports: Marshall County Circuit Judge Howard Hawk, a former Democrat denied access to the March 13 Republican primary ballot, has been certified by the Alabama Secretary of State to run as an independent for re-election, his campaign said Saturday.

Hawk submitted 5,200 signatures requesting that he be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot as an independent. He only needed 774 to qualify. ...

A longtime Democrat, Hawk switched to the Republican party in December 2010. Less than a month later, 27 of 29 members of the Marshall County Republican Party Executive Committee voted to ask Hawk to remain a Democrat. -- Read the whole story --> Marshall County Circuit Judge Howard Hawk certified to run as an independent in November | al.com

March 13, 2012

Judge Howard Hawk will run as an independent

The Huntsville Times reports: Marshall County presiding Circuit Judge Howard Hawk expects to be on the ballot in November as an independent candidate.

Hawk said he will turn in over 5,000 signatures to the Alabama Secretary of State's office today to qualify. A longtime Democrat, Hawk switched to the Republican party in December 2010. Less than a month later, 27 of 29 members of the Marshall County Republican Party Executive Committee voted to request Hawk to remain a Democrat. -- Read the whole story --> Marshall County Judge Howard Hawk to turn in signatures to run as an independent | al.com

February 20, 2012

Jury can't decide where the mayor of Weaver lives

The Anniston Star reports: After several lawsuits and one trial aimed at determining whether the mayor of Weaver lives in that city, the question remains unanswered.

On Friday, Circuit Judge Malcolm Street declared a mistrial after a week-long court case. The jury, which deliberated for about nine hours over a two-day period, was unable to unanimously decide whether Mayor Garry Bearden lives in a house he owns in Weaver or in a second home he owns in Anniston. ...

Jurors told reporters that the 12-member group was split 10-2. Ten jurors believed Bearden had not violated a law that states elected municipal leaders must live in the cities they are selected to serve. According to some of those jurors, two members believed the mayor had violated the law.

The judge told the jury before deliberations began on Thursday that each member should focus on the question of legal residence, or domicile. That is the place a person "intends to return after any temporary absence," Street said. -- Read the whole story --> Anniston Star - Jury splits 10 2 most siding with Bearden on question of Weaver mayor s residency

February 16, 2012

Bill for term limits on Birmingham mayor proposed

The Birmingham News reports: The mayor of Birmingham could serve no more than two full four-year terms in a row, under a bill proposed by state Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham.

The bill, if approved by the Legislature, would take effect starting with the municipal election in 2013.

No law now imposes term limits on the Birmingham mayor.

Current Birmingham Mayor William Bell won a two-year term in August. Elections for the mayor of Birmingham starting in 2013 will be for four-year terms. -- Read the whole story --> Bill proposed in Alabama Legislature would limit Birmingham mayor to two terms | al.com

February 15, 2012

Bill to lower 3rd party and independent ballot requirements passes Senate committee

Ballot Access News reports that SB 15 has been approved by an Alabama Senate Committee. The bill would lower the number of petition signatures and change the petition's due date.


February 13, 2012

"Party bosses who control the ballot"

Dr. Jess Brown writes in the Huntsville Times: Given the GOP's recently emerged dominance of Alabama's political landscape, prudence suggests that Republican leaders study the lessons gleaned from history. Alabamians and Americans generally do not expect intense partisan loyalty or philosophical consistency from their government officials.

They do not want party leaders to select nominees for based on such expectations or to exercise final de facto control over who can appear on the ballots of taxpayer-funded primary elections.

Based on customs developed during the last century, voters now expect rank-and-file voters on primary election day to make the choice about who will express the party's voice in a general election campaign. Voters will ultimately reject paternalistic or condescending views of contemporary party bosses who argue that they know best about who should represent the party during the general election campaign.

Party bosses who focus excessively on keeping the party's nominees loyal and pure start to disrespect the collective judgment of the electorate, make the party smaller, produce nominees less electable, and over time reduce the party's influence inside the hallways of government. America is a place of more pragmatists than partisans on general election day. -- Read the whole op-ed --> Party bosses who control the ballot (Op-ed by Dr. Jess Brown) | al.com

January 20, 2012

Jefferson County judicial candidate disqualified on residency grounds

The Birmingham News reports: Virginia Meigs will not be certified as a Republican candidate for Jefferson County District Judge Place 3, the Alabama Republican Party said today.

The state party's candidate committee upheld a challenge to Meigs' residency, the Alabama Republican Party said in a statement.

The Bessemer Cutoff resident had signed up to run for a court seat based in the Birmingham division, a separate part of the 10th Judicial Circuit.

Primary candidates in Jefferson County court races must live in the division where the court seat is based, unless there is no primary opposition. -- Read the whole story --> Virginia Meigs ruled out of Jefferson County District Judge Place 3 race after residency challenge | al.com

January 19, 2012

"Two state candidates for Congress can’t vote for themselves"

The Tuscaloosa News reports: Stan Pate of Tuscaloosa is one of two Republican candidates for Congress who will not be able to vote for themselves in Alabama's March 13 primary because they do not live in the districts they want to represent.

Pate, a Tuscaloosa businessman, is a candidate for the 6th District seat held by U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus, but his residence will be in the 4th Congressional District under the reapportionment plan approved by the Legislature last year. The new district lines created by the plan will be in effect for this year’s primaries and the general election, meaning Pate would vote in the 4th District.

Phillip Norris of Hoover, a Republican candidate in the 7th Congressional District, also won’t be able to vote for himself because his residence is in the redrawn 6th District.

But Pate and Norris are eligible to run for the congressional seats because the U.S. Constitution does not require a candidate to live in the district he or she represents; it only requires a congressional candidate to live in the state he or she is running in on Election Day. -- Read the whole story --> Two state candidates for Congress can't vote for themselves | TuscaloosaNews.com

January 18, 2012

Birthers lose second case before Judge Lee

The Birmingham News reports: The Jefferson County judge who dismissed a Luverne man's lawsuit to block President Obama from Alabama ballots today also ordered him to pay the state Democratic Party's court costs and lawyer fees within 45 days.

Lawyers for Mark Kennedy, the state party chairman, sought the sanctions in a motion his lawyers filed last week filed last week in the suit filed by Harold Sorensen. But one of the lawyers said during a hearing today that party officials would not try to collect if Sorensen does not file any similar lawsuits during the 2012 election cycle.

"The Democratic Party has no desire to chase after a retired military man to collect," Barry Ragsdale, one of Kennedy's lawyers, told Circuit Judge Helen Shores Lee.

Ragsdale then turned to address Sorensen. "But if I read you're bad-mouthing the court and this decision, you will feel the full wrath of me." -- Read the whole story --> Judge in Obama citizenship lawsuit orders man who sued to pay Democratic Party's lawyer, court fees | al.com

GOP boots another incumbent party-switcher

The Huntsville Times reports: The Alabama Republican Party steering committee voted Tuesday to to remove Marshall County Circuit Judge Howard Hawk from the GOP primary ballot.

Hawk, who is seeking re-election, switched to the Republican Party in December 2010. While welcomed by state GOP officials, 27 of the 29 members of the Marshall County Republican Party Executive Committee voted the following month to ask Hawk to remain a Democrat. -- Read the whole story --> Marshall County Judge Howard Hawk kicked off GOP primary ballot | al.com

January 15, 2012

Three small political parties sue Alabama re ballot access

The Green Party, the Constitution Party, and the Libertarian Party, along with several voters and a Green Party presidential candidate, have filed suit against the Alabama law requiring unqualified parties to qualify by submitting petitions containing at least 3% of the voters in the last general election, and the petitions must be filed by the day of the first primary. Because of the change from having separate presidential and non-presidential primaries to having one primary on 13 March, the parties will have to qualify 8 months before the general election.

Information on the plaintiffs' attorney Dan Johnson is available on his firm's website.

The complaint is reproduced below:

Stein v. Chapman Complaint

Thanks to Richard Winger of Ballot Access News for the tip.

January 9, 2012

Birthers lose one and file another

The Birmingham News reports: About the same time Jefferson County Circuit Judge Helen Shores Lee was dismissing a Birmingham man's lawsuit challenging President Obama's right to be on Alabama ballots, Lee was assigned a new suit seeking an injunction against state party officials.

The new suit, filed today in Jefferson County Circuit Court by Harold Sorensen of Luverne, also contends Obama is ineligible to serve as president and should be barred from Alabama ballots.

"In 2008, the (Democratic National Committee) certified an ineligible candidate, Barack Obama, and thus defrauded the American people," Sorenson wrote in his lawsuit. "This was a violation of the basic voter's rights and Obama's subsequent usurpation constitutes the greatest crime ever perpetrated against the American people."

Civil cases are randomly assigned, and Sorenson's suit wound up with the same judge who this morning dismissed a suit by Albert E. Hendershot.

In a hearing this morning, a lawyer for the state Democratic Party chairman argued that Hendershot had not shown a specific violation of his rights that a court could protect. State law and court precedent also say the judiciary has no business telling the political parties who they can list as candidates, the lawyer, Barry Ragsdale argued in this morning's hearing on the Hendershot case. -- Read the whole story -->

January 6, 2012

The 'birther' road show comes to Birmingham

The Birmingham News reports: A Birmingham man challenging President Barack Obama's right to be on the Alabama ballot has hired a California lawyer who has filed several similar suits across the country, and is asking for a delay in a hearing set for Monday.

Orly Taitz, a well-known figure in the "birther" movement that questions Obama's citizenship and right to serve as president, announced on her web site today she has agreed to represent Albert E. Hendershot. The web site also included a motion she says she plans to file in Jefferson County Circuit Court this morning asking for the hearing delay. ...

Hendershot filed suit Dec. 14 against Mark Kennedy, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party. He is seeking an order from Circuit Judge Helen Shores Lee to bar the party from certifying Obama on the Democratic ballot in the March 13 primary.

Monday's hearing was set to consider Kennedy's request for Lee to dismiss Hendershot's suit, which Kennedy's lawyers have called frivolous. They also have asked Lee to order Hendershot to show why his suit should not be dismissed. -- Read the whole story --> Well-known 'birther' lawyer takes on Birmingham man's suit to block president from Alabama ballot | al.com

The News also has these links to court filings in the case:
Complaint
Motion for early hearing
Motion to dismiss

December 31, 2011

Another party-switcher is rejected by the GOP

The Talladega Daily Home reports: Munford residents met with Danny Hubbard, chairman of the Talladega County Republican Committee, Thursday night at the Munford Senior Center to voice their concerns over the list of Republican nominees for the upcoming election.

Many of their concerns pointed to the fact that Jackie Swinford?s name was not on that list.

Swinford, who is Talladega County commissioner for District 1, which includes the Munford area, was not recognized by the Talladega County Republican Committee while trying to switch his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.

Of the 25 members of the Talladega County Republican Executive Committee, 14 members voted 8-6 against Swinford?s request to become a Republican at a recent party meeting. At Swinford's request, a special meeting of the committee is scheduled for Jan. 5 to vote on whether his name will be placed on the Republican ballot in spite of the previous denial. ...

The committee is to meet Jan. 5 at an undisclosed location for the vote. If there is someone who detests, the executive committee will reconvene and hear Swinford and his opposer and the committee will then have a closed session and have a final vote. -- Read the whole story --> The Daily Home - Swinford s request to join Republican Party is denied

December 24, 2011

Tom Butler appeals GOP decision barring him from ballot

The Huntsville Times reports: Former Democratic State Sen. Tom Butler is appealing the Madison County Republican Party's decision to bar him from seeking a county commission seat on the GOP ticket.

Monday night, a divided Madison County Republican Party executive committee approved a motion that bars Butler from seeking the GOP nomination for the open District 2 County Commission seat.
Butler announced his party switch and candidacy for the seat less than a month ago and had already picked up an endorsement from former Gov. Bob Riley.

But he was unable to convince the party's candidate committee of his conservative credentials. That group, formed to vet local GOP candidates, recently voted 6-0 to keep Butler out of the March 13 Republican primary election.

Today Butler emailed a letter to the state Republican Party appealing the local party's decision. -- Read the whole story --> Former Sen. Tom Butler appeals to state GOP after being barred from primary ballot | al.com

December 22, 2011

Huntsville Times editorializes against GOP decision on Butler

The Huntsville Times opines: In deciding to deny Democrat-turned-Republican Tom Butler a place on the party's primary ballot next March, local Republicans seem to have forgotten how their party developed any significant presence in Alabama politics roughly 40 years ago. ...

The party may want to rethink what kind of message it is sending by hand-picking nominees based on factors other than technical qualifications. The very purpose of holding primaries, which are paid for by the taxpayers, is to not let party bosses decide who the nominees will be. -- Read the whole editorial --> Primaries and ballot access (editorial) | al.com

December 20, 2011

Madison co GOP rejects a party-switcher

The Huntsville Times reports: Former Democratic state Sen. Tom Butler's attempt to resurrect his political career as a Republican has come to an abrupt end.

Monday night, a divided Madison County Republican Party executive committee approved a motion that bars Butler from seeking the GOP nomination for the open District 2 County Commission seat.

Butler announced his candidacy for the seat less than a month ago and had already picked up an endorsement from former Gov. Bob Riley.

But he was unable to convince the party's candidate committee of his conservative credentials. That group, formed to vet local GOP candidates, recently voted 6-0 to keep Butler out of the March 13 Republican primary election. -- Read the whole story --> Madison County GOP bars longtime Democratic state Sen. Tom Butler from Republican primary | al.com

November 13, 2011

GOP and Dems opening qualifying for primary

The Gadsden Times reports: Republican Party qualifying for the 2012 primary opens Monday, and Democrats will open their qualifying Dec. 3.

Qualifying will close at 5 p.m. Jan. 13. The 2012 party primaries will be March 13, earlier than usual. Besides state and some local offices, March 13 also is the date for the presidential primary in Alabama. The general election is Nov. 6. ...

Besides U.S. president, PSC president and chief justice, other offices up for election next year include all seven U.S. House seats, four state Supreme Court seats, three Court of Civil Appeals seats, three Court of Criminal Appeals seats, odd-numbered state Board of Education seats and numerous county judicial positions. -- Read the whole story --> Qualifying for Alabama elections begins Monday for GOP | GadsdenTimes.com

July 14, 2011

Montgomery: getting on the ballot for mayor proves difficult

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Mayoral hopeful Janet May, who was unable to qualify for mayor this time, said she intends to start cam­paigning in 2013 -- two years before the next election -- for mayor. ...

In order to qualify as a mayoral candidate, an individual must submit a $300 filing fee and a petition with sig­natures of at least 327 registered vot­ers in the city of Montgomery. Unlike a candidate for City Council, who can either submit a petition or a filing fee, candidates for mayor must do both.

The tricky part is that the voter in­formation listed on the petition must match the voter information on file with the Board of Registrars and Elec­tion Center. For May, that meant that although she submitted a petition with 404 signatures, only 266 checked out during the verification process. ...

Justin Aday, election di­rector, said that many of the signatures are tossed be­cause either the person is not registered to vote at all, they are registered but not in the city of Montgomery, or the information provided simply does not match the informa­tion on file. The latter could happen, for example, when a person moves but does not officially update their resi­dency information with the Board of Registrars.
-- Read the whole story --> Janet May plans mayoral campaign -- for 2015 | The Montgomery Advertiser | montgomeryadvertiser.com

May 8, 2011

Oral argument in Drake v. Obama

C-SPAN -- The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in Drake v. Obama, a case questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States and is eligible to serve as president. Wiley Drake, a former vice presidential candidate in 2008 and former presidential candidate Alan Keyes, are two of the lead plaintiffs challenging the validity of President Obama's birth certificate. A lower court dismissed this case ruling that the Court is not the proper place to challenge a president's election. -- View the 51-minute video --> [Drake v. Obama] Oral Arguments - C-SPAN Video Library

If you are a "birther," you would probably have to wonder if Dr. Orly Taitz did your cause any good by her argument. She began her argument by talking about the President's recent release of his long-form birth certificate, which is not an issue in her appeal, but she claims it is just a "computer image" and that the President falsified that certificate. She went on to how she was pressured by the district judge to serve the U.S. Attorney in open court, the lack of impartiality of the judge because the President's lawyer used to clerk for the judge, and so on. Were these the issues on appeal?

On the other hand, Gary Kreep actually stuck to the issues that the Court seemed to want to decide -- standing and political question.


May 1, 2011

"Alabama primary dates would shift under bill"

The Birmingham News reports: Alabama's primary elections would alternate every two years between being held in March and being held in June, under a bill that could win final legislative approval this week.

Under House Bill 425, Alabama's presidential preference primaries and its party primary elections for state courts, Congress and other positions would be held every four years on the second Tuesday in March. The first of those elections would be next year.

Alabama's primary elections for governor, the Legislature and other offices would remain on the first Tuesday in June in years with no presidential elections.

Alabama law now calls for two sets of primary elections in presidential election years, with the presidential primaries in February and primaries for all other offices in June. Read the whole story --> Alabama primary dates would shift under bill | al.com

Alabama: Another unintended (?) consequence of HB 425

Richard Winger of Ballot Access News emailed me: I am glad you are writing about HB 425. Next time you do a story, you should add that this bill, if not amended, threatens to overturn Alabama's petition procedure for how minor parties get on the ballot. HB 425 does not change the petition deadline directly, but it does change it indirectly. This is because existing law says the petition to put a minor party on the ballot is due on primary day. The bill does not change that, so if the bill passes, the petition deadline for minor parties will be in March.

The US Supreme Court ruled in Anderson v Celebrezze, 460 US 780 (1983) that state petition deadlines for minor parties and independent candidates, at least in a presidential race, cannot be as early as March. The court struck down Ohio's law, which required 5,000 signatures by March 20, 1980. The person who won that lawsuit was John B. Anderson, who had run as an independent presidential candidate in 1980 and who did get on the ballot in all 50 states. He had to sue 5 states that had petition deadlines earlier than May, and he won all those cases during 1980. In 1983 the US Supreme Court affirmed the lower court decision that had said Ohio's deadline was too early.

That is why the 11th circuit, and the US District Court, both ruled that Alabama's old April petition deadline for new parties was unconstitutional. See New Alliance Party of Alabama v Hand, 933 F 2d 1568 (1991). It said an April petition deadline, in conjunction with a 1% (of the last gubernatorial vote) was unconstitutional, and that didn't even involve a presidential election. Now Alabama has a June petition combined with a 3% petition.

January 8, 2011

Marshall Co, Alabama: GOP does not want one party switcher

The Huntsvile Times reports: Marshall County Republicans have asked Circuit Judge Howard Hawk, who announced a switch to the GOP in December, to switch back to the Democratic Party.

In a special meeting Monday, the 27 members present of the 29-member Marshall County Republican Executive Committee voted unanimously to ask Hawk to "reconsider switching parties and remain as a member of the Marshall County Democratic Party."

Jean Brewer, chairwoman of the county Republican Party, said Hawk made the party switch without consent of the local party and that he turned down an offer to meet with them prior to the switch.

Hawk said he plans to remain a Republican. -- Read the whole story --> Marshall County Republicans want Judge Howard Hawk to switch back to the Democratic Party | al.com

December 25, 2010

Dothan, AL: another legislator with a two-job problem

The Dothan Eagle reports: An attorney general?s opinion has raised some questions about Alabama Rep. Dexter Grimsley?s eligibility to serve in the Legislature, but Grimsley says it?s all smoke and no fire.

Grimsley, a newly-elected Democrat representing Alabama House District 85, also works in a state job as a juvenile probation officer.

An Aug. 18 attorney general?s opinion states that juvenile court intake officers must not serve in a separate appointive or elective office in the executive or legislative branch of government because of prohibitions contained in section 12-15-102 of the Code and Rule 8(B) of the Alabama Rules of Juvenile Procedure.

The opinion bars juvenile intake officers from serving as mayors, city commissioners, county commissioners, state legislators, etc.

Grimsley said he?s OK to serve in the Legislature and keep his job because he is a juvenile probation officer and not a juvenile intake officer. Grimsley said he has received a memo from Callie Dietz, administrative director of courts, to this effect. Dietz had requested the attorney general?s opinion. -- Read the whole story --> AG opinion raises question about local representative's eligibility | Dothan Eagle

October 30, 2010

Alabama: suit to remove Bentley from ballot dismissed

The Birmingham News reports: A lawsuit aimed at tossing Republican Robert Bentley off next week's general election ballot was itself tossed Friday by a Jefferson County judge.

Circuit Judge Nicole "Nikki" Still ruled that Alabama law does not give her jurisdiction to remove Bentley from the ballot or jurisdiction to halt next Tuesday's election while a replacement for Bentley is found.

The lawsuit was brought by former Birmingham City Council member Dr. Jimmy Blake.

Blake had contended that Bentley had knowingly violated the state's Fair Campaign Practices Act by failing to disclose on financial reports filed July 8 that the Alabama Education Association had contributed almost $22,000 to his campaign by picking up the cost of a series of automatic telephone messages. Bentley placed the messages to a half-million would-be voters days before the July 13 GOP runoff election between himself and Bradley Byrne. -- Read the whole story --> Lawsuit to boot Alabama gubernatorial candidate Robert Bentley off ballot dismissed | al.com

October 19, 2010

Weaver: what's an office of profit?

The Anniston Star reports: Weaver?s mayor and two council members are continuing a legal fight that has each side challenging the other?s right to hold office.

On Monday, lawyers for council members Jeff Clendenning and Sheila Field filed motions in response to a lawsuit Mayor Garry Bearden filed earlier this month. In that suit, the mayor alleges the council members serve in more than one ?office of profit,? which is illegal.

In order for a government job to be considered an office of profit, according to the Alabama League of Municipalities, a post must exercise power granted by the Legislature, have a fixed term and provide compensation for its holder.

Motions filed by attorneys representing Clendenning, a Calhoun County bridge inspector, and Field, an assistant district attorney for Calhoun County, stated that the council members? day jobs do not violate the rule on offices of profit, and that the case should not move forward because it is not in the best interest of the people. Read the whole story --> Anniston Star - Weaver leaders challenging each other?s right to hold off?ice

October 2, 2010

Autauga Co: convicted felon can't serve, but can't be removed from ballot

The Prattville Progress reports: Former Autauga County Coroner Willie Mack "Billy" Brown III, who was convicted in July on theft and ethics charges, cannot legally serve as county sheriff. But that doesn't mean he couldn't be elected to the office.
Advertisement

State and local elections officials confirmed Thursday that, while state law dictates that a convicted felon may not serve as a county sheriff, no such statute allows for removal of Brown's name from the November General Election ballot.

State voter registration superintendent Ed Packard said neither Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman's office, nor Autauga County's chief elections official, Probate Judge Al Booth, could legally remove Brown's name from the political menu that voters across the county will see on Nov. 2. ...

According to county election records, Brown obtained prior to June 1 enough signatures on a petition of independent candidacy to qualify for the race. That pretty much assured that Brown's name would appear on the November ballot, said Booth. -- Read the whole article --> Convicted candidate's name on ballot | prattvilleprogress.com | Prattville Progress

September 9, 2010

Mobile: independent candidate allowed on the ballot despite challenge to residency

The Mobile Press-Register reports: In dismissing a case filed by state Rep. James Buskey, Mobile County Circuit Judge Rick Stout cleared the way for Rashawn Figures to appear as a candidate for House District 99 on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

Figures is running as an independent.

Earlier this year, Buskey, D-Mobile, disputed Figures? qualifications to run as a Democrat, and state party officials agreed. Figures? name was removed from the June 1 Democratic primary ballot.

Figures appealed to Secretary of State Beth Chapman, who certified him to run as an independent in the general election.

Buskey then sued in circuit court, seeking to have Figures? name struck from the ballot. ...

Last week, Cecil Gardner, Buskey’s lawyer, argued that Figures lived at a west Mobile residence beyond the time required to be a resident of District 99. Read the whole story --> Suit seeking removal of Rashawn Figures from ballot dismissed by judge | al.com

September 8, 2010

Ala SD 11: GOP chooses new candidate, Dems cry foul

Doc's Political Parlor reports: The state Republicans today chose Talladega businessman Ray Robbins to replace Senate veteran Jim Preuitt on the ballot in Senate District 11. While Democrats feel good about their chances, one interested Republican told the Parlor after Preuitt dropped out, "If we don't have a nominee, that saves them a half million dollars [in campaign money] they can put somewhere else." ...

Will the Democrats challenge the Republicans' right to name a ballot replacement? The Democrats understood that August 27 was the last possible date they could name a ballot replacement in Jefferson County for Kenya Marshall if she were disqualified. Jim Spearman, the state Democrats' Executive Director, tells the Parlor, "I question their ability to do this when the Secretary of State's office tells me one thing and the Republicans are allowed to do another. That's why we hurried to have that meeting [on Aug. 26 to replace Kenya Marshall]. There ought to be a standard on it. At one point we have to have it by the 27th, it's the absolute deadline. They tell me one thing and do another in this instance." Read the whole story --> Alabama Politics in Doc's Political Parlor

(The Birmingham News print edition has a similar story, but the story is not online.)

Bessemer: suit filed over residence of leading mayoral candidate

The Birmingham News reports: A Bessemer woman who lost her bid for a seat on the City Council last month is seeking to have a mayoral candidate headed into a runoff with incumbent Mayor Ed May disqualified.

Jessie Burrell on Friday filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County Circuit Court in Bessemer that contests the election results and claims Kenneth "Ken" Gulley does not live in Bessemer and therefore was not qualified to run for mayor in the city. ...

Burrell's contest claims that Gulley is ineligible to run for office because he was not a resident of Bessemer at the time he filed qualifying papers. Burrell's contest alleges Gulley has lived in Hueytown on White Oak Lane for the last two years. ...

Gulley, who said today he had not been served with the lawsuit, maintains he is a resident of Bessemer. He said he owns a house on Granville Avenue but he calls an apartment at Westlake Circle home. Gulley said he owns the house in Hueytown on White Oak Lane, but he does not live there. -- Read the whole story --> Lawsuit claims Bessemer mayoral candidate lives in Hueytown | al.com

August 28, 2010

Birmingham: judge rules that councilwoman is legally holding office

The Birmingham News reports: A Jefferson County Judge this afternoon dismissed a lawsuit claiming Birmingham City Councilwoman Valerie Abbott was serving illegally because she works for a utility.

In his lawsuit filed in October 2009, Paul Latino asked the judge to remove Abbott from office and reimburse him for any taxes he paid that went toward her salary. At issue was Abbott's full-time job at AT&T. Latino's lawyers said her employment with the utility violates portions of the Mayor/Council Act and the Alabama Code.

In addition, the suit cited a section in the State Code as well as Section 8.06 of the Mayor Council Act, which prohibits a council member from working for a utility while in office. ...

Abbott called criticism about her employment misguided. Although she works at AT&T, she officially works for BellSouth Affiliate Services Corp., a spin-off company from the utility that does not provide phone service or is a regulated utility. In his ruling, Judge William Noble agreed with Abbott's defense . -- Read the whole story --> Jefferson County judge tosses suit arguing Birmingham Councilwoman Valerie Abbott serves illegally | al.com

August 5, 2010

Lauderdale County: referendum on separate commission chair and probate judge

The Times Daily reports: Lauderdale County voters will decide in November if they want to separate the commission chairmanship from the probate judge.

Florence attorney Chris Smith, counsel for the Lauderdale County Commission, said he received written approval from the U.S. Justice Department. ...

A bill, allowing the public to vote on the issue, was introduced by state Rep. Mike Curtis, D-Greenhill, during the 2010 legislative session.

County officials said the ballot will prompt voters to decide if they want two people to handle the positions. Read the whole story --> Voters to decide on chair, probate judge separation | TimesDaily.com | The Times Daily | Florence, AL

May 6, 2010

Maryland: "anti-corporate bigotry" in voter registration

Corporations are People Too! announces: In a stunning and alarming decision that could have wide-ranging consequences to the electoral process, the Maryland Board of Elections again defied the Supreme Court and rejected Murray Hill Inc.'s voter registration for the second time.

The Maryland State Board of Elections' 438-word written opinion denied Murray Hill Inc.'s appeal of the board's initial refusal to register the corporation. The board's rejection memo concluded that "Under Sec.3-102 of the Election Law Article, Annoted Code of Maryland, only "an individual" is qualified to register to vote."

Murray Hill filed for voter registration in January 2010. The state rejected the application in March and today denies an appeal filed in early April.

In a statement, Murray Hill Inc. said, "This is the same old anti-corporate bigotry and cultural myopia that refuses to accept the new world the Supreme Court has charted for us in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission. We are shocked and outraged by this attack on our fundamental and inalieanble rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by profit."
Citing what Murray Hill Inc. has previously called the canard of human-only age requirements, the Board of Elections wrote, "Although a corporation may in some instances be a 'person' within the meaning of Maryland law, see Article 1, Sec. 15, Annotated Code of Maryland, a corporation is not included within the term 'individual,' as that term is used in Election Law Article, Sec. 3-102. This is made abundantly clear by the age requirement of Sec. 3-102 (a)(2)." Read the whole press release --> Corporations are People Too!: voter registration release

The decision is here:
Murray Hill BOE Rejection Decision (1)

January 13, 2010

Alabama House committee reviews 4 election bills today

Four bills are up for hearing today in the Alabama House Committee on Constitution and Elections:

HB 30 -- Elections, overseas absentee voting, Electronic Overseas Voting Advisory Committee, established to advise whether secure electronic means of voting available, duties of absentee election manager, overseas voter certificate required, Secretary of State to implement rules

HB 85 -- Campaign contributions, PAC to PAC transfers, prohibited, Sec. 17-5-15 am'd.

HB 129 -- Electioneering communications and paid political advertising, disclosure of source of funding required, exceptions, contributions by political committees further provided for, Secs. 17-5-2, 17-5-8, 17-5-12 am'd.; Act 2009-751, 2009 Reg. Sess. am'd.

HB 145 -- Elections, write-in candidates, registration with judge of probate or Secretary of State prior to election required, compliance with Fair Campaign Practices Act and State Ethics Law required, Sec. 17-6-28 am'd

Note -- to view the Alison system, you must be using Internet Explorer or the IE Tab add-on to Firefox.

January 11, 2010

Alabama Democrats open qualifying this Saturday

From a press release of the Alabama Democratic Party: The State Democratic Executive Committee of Alabama will meet at 11:00 AM on Saturday, January 16 in the Main Hall of Montgomery's RSA Commerce Center, 401 Adams Ave., to pass a resolution officially opening the qualifying period for the June 1, 2010 Democratic Primary. Members of the media, candidates, and the public are welcome to attend. The qualifying period is set to close at 5:00 PM on April 2, 2010 at the Alabama Democratic Party headquarters in Montgomery. ...

Though qualifying has not yet opened, a slate of impressive candidates from across the state have already been gearing up for a spirited primary season. An unofficial list of candidates who have expressed their intent to run is available at the Party website (www.aladems.org) under the Directory for 'Candidates'. The Party will update that list as candidates officially qualify for office.

November 10, 2009

19th Judicial Circuit: residency restrictions

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a law that imposes residency requirements on candidates running for circuit judge in the 19th Judicial Circuit could be headed to the Alabama Supreme Court. But first, Montgomery Circuit Court Judge William Shashy has to rule on the case.

Attorney Jerry M. Blevins filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Beth Chapman because of a 2008 change to state law that would require him to live in a specific county in the 19th Judicial Circuit to be a candidate for one of three judge positions. -- Read the whole story --> Man sues over candidacy law | montgomeryadvertiser.com | Montgomery Advertiser

October 21, 2009

Birmingham: How many mayors can Birmingham have in one year?

WBHM reports: Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford's trial is underway. As Langford's fate hangs in the balance at the Tuscaloosa federal courthouse, many in Birmingham wonder what will happen to his job as mayor if he's convicted. WBHM's Bradley George takes a look at some of the possibilities. ...

Birmingham-Southern political scientist Natalie Davis says the succession part of the Mayor-Council Act was written with the possible death of a mayor in mind, not so much a criminal conviction.

'To the extent that there might be these little tripwires along the way, as far as the timing of this stuff happens, I doubt anybody gave that any thought.

The biggest hang up has to do with a possible verdict in Langford's trial. Attorneys expect the trial to last about two weeks--meaning the Tuscaloosa jury could reach a verdict sometime in early November. If he's guilty, Langford would be removed from office and city council president Carole Smitherman becomes mayor. But election lawyer Ed Still says Smitherman won't have much time to get comfy in the mayor's seat.

'The president of the council only serves until the new people take office.'

The 'new people' would be the two new council members elected this year. They take office the end of November. The new council could decide to keep Smitherman as president, or they could pick someone else. If that's the case, the new council president becomes Birmingham's THIRD mayor of 2009. Oh and here's the other thing about the City Council president becoming mayor. Ed Still says their council seat goes into a kind of suspended animation. The seat is vacant as long as the council president serves as mayor.

'Her seat can't be filled because she's going to come back to it. If she says immediately, 'I'm going to run for mayor', her seat can't be filled because theoretically she can come back to it because if she doesn't win the special mayor's election.' -- Read the whole story --> If He's Found Guilty, Who Succeeds Langford? (WBHM - NPR News and Classical Music)

July 23, 2009

Alabama: state requirements for ballot access upheld

Ballot Access News reports: On July 23, U.S. District Court Mark Fuller, a Bush, Jr., appointee, upheld the number of signatures required for an independent U.S. House candidate in Alabama. Shugart v Chapman, middle district, 2:08-cv-1016-MEF. Here is the 7-page decision.

Alabama requires 5,000 signatures for an independent presidential candidate, but in 2008 it required 6,155 for an independent U.S. House candidate in the 6th district. Alabama is the only state that requires more signatures for any independent candidates for U.S. House than it requires for an independent candidate for President. -- Read the whole story and get the link --> Ballot Access News » Blog Archive » U.S. District Court in Alabama Says State May Require More Signatures for U.S. House than for President

May 9, 2009

Alabama: judicial candidates to face additional requirements

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: The Alabama Legislature has passed a bill to set minimum expe­rience requirements for judges.

The House gave final approval Thursday to a bill that requires a state appeals court judge to have been a lawyer for at least 10 years. Circuit judges would need five years' experience and district judges three years. The require­ments will take effect for judicial candidates in next year's elec­tions. Current judges are exempt. -- Alabama legislators set experience for judges | montgomeryadvertiser.com | Montgomery Advertiser

April 29, 2009

Alabama: GOP block non-partisan election of judges in Marshall County

Republicans block nonpartisan judicial elections - NewsFlash - al.com
AP reports: "Republicans block nonpartisan judicial elections." In Alabama we have a strange creature called a "local constitutional amendment" by which the voters of one city or county can amend the state Constitution. That is what Rep. Jeff McLaughlin of Guntersville (in Marshall County) was proposing: a local constitutional amendment for Marshall County to allow its judges to run in nonpartisan elections.

The amendment failed by a vote of 50-0. It needed 63 votes (60% of the House's total membership) to pass. The Republicans abstained to kill it.

March 14, 2009

Bill would require birth certificates from presidential candidates (bill linked)

TPM DC reports: Rep. Bill Posey, a freshman Republican from Florida, is now putting forward a bill that should be good news for a particular demographic that cares a whole lot about their issue: Those folks out there who insist that President Obama hasn't offered a birth certificate to prove he's a natural-born U.S. citizen.

CNN reports that Posey has submitted a bill to require all presidential candidates to submit a birth certificate -- which Posey says is needed in order to remove this issue as a reason to question any president's legitimacy. ...

Posey's spokesperson told CNN that Posey takes President Obama's word for it that he's a citizen: "This was not meant as an insult to the president. It is simply meant as a way to clarify future election laws and to dispel the issue so we can move on with doing business for the country." -- TPMDC | Talking Points Memo | GOP Rep Submits Bill To Require Birth Certificates From Prez Candidates

A copy of the bill is here.

Comment: Why doesn't Rep. Posey amend the bill to add candidates for Congress as well? What "other documentation" will be necessary to prove the other constitutional qualification of 14 years' residence in the United States?

January 28, 2009

FEC lists Palin as "candidate for president 2012" -- but not so fast

McClatchy Newspapers reports: Ever since Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin opened up a political action committee yesterday, there's been a lot of speculation about why her name suddenly is popping up in the Federal Election Commission database as a candidate for president in 2012. (To see for yourself, click here, search for "Palin," and you'll get a list of committees with her name on them, including this one, which describes her as a candidate for president in 2012.) It's especially eyebrow-raising since a spokeswoman for Palin's new political action committee said yesterday that the new PAC is emphatically not a presidential exploratory committee for the former vice presidential candidate.

Here's how it happened: On Nov. 20, David L. Kelly of Colorado Springs, Colo., filed a statement of organization for a federal election committee: the 2012 Draft Sarah Committee. When Kelly did so, in the section that describes the type of committee it is, he checked off a box saying "this committee supports/opposes only one candidate, and is NOT an authorized committee." He wrote in "Sarah Palin" as the name of the candidate his committee either supports or opposes.

Basically, when the "2012 Draft Sarah Committee" wrote in Palin's name on its form, she got automatically entered into the FEC database as a candidate for president in 2012. Anyone whose name was entered in the form would have been designated as a candidate. -- More on Palin and the presidency - Yahoo! News

January 8, 2009

Alabama: suit attacks residency requirement for one circuit court

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: An Elmore County man is suing the state's top election official over a law that imposes residency requirements on candidates running for circuit judge in the 19th Judicial Circuit.

Attorney Jerry M. Blevins filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Beth Chapman because of a recent change to state law that would require him to live in a specific county in the 19th Judicial Circuit to be a candidate for one of the three judge positions.

The 19th Judicial Circuit covers Autauga, Chilton and Elmore counties, and an amendment that passed the state Legislature during the 2008 regular session requires judges to live in the county over which they preside.

Blevins wants to run for the No. 3 judge seat in 2010, but because of the change to the law, he would have to live in Chilton County to be eligible.

Under the new amendment, Blevins would only be eligible to run for seat No. 1 because he lives in Elmore County. -- Man sues to be in race for judgeship | montgomeryadvertiser.com | Montgomery Advertiser

December 9, 2008

Illinois: bill for special Senate election to be introduced

The Hill reports: The Illinois state House is set to reconvene Monday to consider a bill that would fill President-elect Obama’s old Senate seat by special election, according to a spokesman for Illinois state House Speaker Michael Madigan (D). ...

Top Illinois Democrats including Sen. Dick Durbin have advocated the special election since Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was arrested early Tuesday and accused of corruption. Blagojevich maintains the ability to appoint Obama’s successor, but is accused of trying to profit from his selection. -- Illinois House to consider special election

UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune reports:

Illinois legislative leaders today prepared to strip Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich of his power to fill the state's vacant U.S. Senate seat after he was charged with political corruption.

House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Emil Jones said they want lawmakers back in Springfield early next week to consider legislation that would allow for a special election to choose a successor to President-elect Barack Obama.

State law gives the governor alone power to name the successor, but lawmakers announced their plans just hours after federal prosecutors accused Blagojevich of trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat for his personal gain. -- Lawmakers call for election to replace Obama

Scotus rejects appeal on Obama's "natural-born"-ness

The NY Times reports: Without comment, the Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up an appeal by a New Jersey man who questioned President-elect Barack Obama’s eligibility for the presidency, based on his birth to a father from Kenya and a mother who was a United States citizen.

The case, originally brought in New Jersey courts by Leo Donofrio of East Brunswick, contended that Mr. Obama could not be considered a “natural-born citizen” — a constitutional ground for becoming president of the United States — contending that he had dual nationality at birth.

State health officials in Hawaii have declared that Mr. Obama was born there in August 1961, and is a United States citizen, but that has not stopped a small squall of Internet-fueled rumors that are trying to debunk his citizenship. -- Justices Turn Back a Challenge on Obama

November 16, 2008

California: Alan Keyes files suit contesting Obama's "natural born" status (court doc linked)

BaileyWo writes on the Open Salon blog: Alan Keyes, 2008 American Independent Party candidate, filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court Friday challenging Barack Obama's right to serve under the Constitution that specifies that candidates for the presidency must be "natural born" citizens of the United States.

The suit demands that Obama produce a certificate of live birth from a hospital in Hawaii to prove his status as natural born. More specifically, the suit petitions the State of California and it's Secretary of State to withhold Californian's electoral votes from Obama at its meeting of electoral delegates in December unless he can provide documentary proof of his "natural born" status.

The suit asserts that the Hawaiian hospital that claims it holds the certificate on file but will not release it has not provided sufficient evidence to show proof of "natural born" citizenship. Under Hawaiian law, a birth certificate can be issued in Hawaii if the parents are citizens of Hawaii but the child does not actually have to be born in Hawaii. The suit asserts that if this was the basis for issuance of Obama's certificate it does not meet the requirement that he be a "natural born" citizen under the United States Constitution. -- Alan Keyes Files Challenge to Obama's "Natural Born" Status - BaileyWo - Open Salon

The blog has a link to the complaint.

August 29, 2008

Alaska: "Senate might have final say if Stevens convicted"

An AP report begins: U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens' political fate could be up to his colleagues if a jury decides the Senate's longest-serving Republican has violated the law.

Stevens is to go on trial after being accused of failing to disclose more than $250,000 in home renovations and gifts from executives at oil services contractor VECO Corp. Stevens has pleaded not guilty.

If Stevens is convicted in his federal trial next month, his name will still appear as the Republican candidate for Senate on Alaska's November election ballot.

And if the 84-year-old Stevens then wins his seventh full term and refuses to resign, it could fall to his colleagues to decide whether he should be expelled. -- Senate might have final say if Stevens convicted - Yahoo! News

August 28, 2008

Alabama: GOP claims not filing to run is just a "technicality"

A Birmingham News report begins: The Jefferson County Republican Party asked a judge Wednesday to include Andrew Smith's name on the November ballot for the unexpired assistant tax assessor's term in Bessemer although Smith didn't qualify for the spot.

The party is seeking to overturn a decision made in July by Jefferson County Probate Judge Alan King who determined that Smith's name could not be added to the ballot because he missed the qualifying deadline. Smith qualified to run only for the full term. Only Democrat Ron Yarbrough qualified to run for the unexpired term.

Bessemer Division Circuit Judge Eugene Verin said he would issue an order by Tuesday.

In a hearing before Verin, Republican Party lawyer Greg Cook said a technicality is keeping Smith's name off the ballot for the unexpired term and that miscommunication between Smith and the party "should not override the right of voters to have a choice." -- Jefferson County Republicans still push for Andrew Smith name on tax post ballot - al.com

August 26, 2008

Alaska: timing is everything in the trial and possible replacement of Ted Stevens

The Washington Post reports: Alaska's Republican voters go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether a pair of GOP incumbents with a combined 75 years in Congress should continue to be the dominant figures in state politics as they battle criminal investigations.

Sen. Ted Stevens, who was indicted last month on charges of failing to disclose favors from a wealthy supporter, and Rep. Don Young, who is facing multiple ethics investigations, face younger Republicans who contend that it's time for Alaska to move beyond the scandals that have plagued the state. ...

The Stevens race presents Republicans with the most delicate problem. Charged with failing to report more than $250,000 in gifts from former Veco chief executive Bill Allen Jr., Stevens is slated to go on trial Sept. 22. If he wins Tuesday's primary, Stevens would face a tough general-election battle against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) but would have to spend most of the final days of the campaign in a D.C. federal court. Prosecutors and defense attorneys have said they expect the case to take at least four weeks before it goes to a jury.

Marc Elias, a Democratic election lawyer, said Republicans would have until mid-September under Alaska law to replace Stevens on the ballot if he wins the primary. Otherwise, they face the prospect of having a convicted felon on the ballot Nov. 4. -- Alaskans Vote Today in Pivotal Republican Primaries - washingtonpost.com

August 20, 2008

Maine: Justice Souter refuses to place independent candidate on ballot

SCOTUSblog reports: Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter, in a brief order Wednesday afternoon, turned down a request that would have given an independent candidate in Maine for the U.S. Senate a place on the Nov. 4 ballot for that office. Souter acted without referring the stay application to his colleagues. There was no written opinion, just a simple denial order. The Justice’s action appears to assure the state’s two major party candidates, incumbent Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, and her Democratic challenger, Rep. Tom Allen, that they will not have to worry about an independent drawing votes away from them. Sen. Collins is considered by political analysts to be one of the vulnerable GOP Senators seeking reelection. Hoffman’s counsel could still go ahead with plans to file a full appeal on the ballot access issue, but Souter’s action probably reduces significantly the chances that such an appeal would succeed, or that a final ruling could come in time. Maine officials say the ballot must be finalized by Aug. 29. -- UPDATE: Souter refuses to order ballot access

August 18, 2008

Maine: independent candidate asks Justice Souter for a chance to get on the ballot

A ScotusBlog post begins: Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter has asked the state of Maine and the state Democratic Party chairman to supply their views on the right of an independent candidate for U.S. Senate to have his nominating petition signatures accepted so that he can get on the November election ballot. In an order issued Friday (found here), Souter — in his role as Circuit Justice for the area that includes Maine — sought responses to First Amendment issues raised by the non-party candidate, Herbert J. Hoffman, and told all of the lawyers involved to discuss what kind of legal remedy, if any, should be available to Hoffman. Those filings are due Tuesday.

Souter has the authority to act alone, but also may choose to share the issue with his colleagues.

In an application (08A138) filed Thursday seeking an order to block a Maine Supreme Court ruling of July 28, Hoffman contended that he has submitted 4,038 valid signatures on nominating petitions — over the 4,000 minimum required by state law. But, because of the state court decision, throwing out three separate petitions that each included only a single invalid signature, he would wind up with a total of only 3, 929, and thus would be barred from the ballot.

The state ruling, Hoffman’s application argued, violates the First Amendment right of political expression of himself and voters who support him, the right to gather politically to support a candidate, and the actual right to vote. -- Souter probes Maine ballot access issue

August 14, 2008

Alabama: sleeping on a cot seems to be "residency"

A Daily Mountain Eagle report begins: The Aug. 26 municipal elections in Carbon Hill took more confusing turns Wednesday as one candidate got back in the race, another was disqualified and the mayor said he had called a meeting of all city candidates tonight while he awaits to see which set of ballots he can use.

Former mayor James “Pee Wee” Richardson had announced Monday he was getting out of the race after finding out his permanent residence at 366 Nubbin Ridge Road was just out of the city limits. However, he said he changed his mind Wednesday after reading in the Daily Mountain Eagle that District 4 city council candidate Louie Sandlin had a permanent home outside the city limits on 740 Nix Road and was qualifying by staying two or three nights a week on a cot at his convenience store at 2085 Nauvoo Road.

Richardson said based on Sandlin’s statements in the newspaper, he didn’t realize that the rules would allow living for only a few days a month in the city limits. He said he has been doing that already at his mother-in-law’s residence at 111 4th Ave. NW.

“I have never officially told the city that I was out of it,” Richardson said. “I’m still in the race ... I feel I am just as qualified as (Sandlin) is.” -- Richardson back in race for CH mayor; Beasley disqualified

August 13, 2008

Alabama: Mobile probate judge asks for ruling on late filing of ethics-disclosure forms

The Mobile Press Register reports: Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis on Tuesday said he has filed a complaint asking Circuit Court judges to decide whether three local candidates should be taken off the ballot for violating the state's ethics code. ...

Davis, a Republican, said that the complaint notes that an official with the Alabama Ethics Commission said that Manzie, Crenshaw and Law did not comply with state law in filing a campaign finance form by the deadline. ...

Among other things, the candidates were accused of filing their statement of economic interests with the Alabama Ethics Commission late or not at all.

Candidates must file that statement with the Montgomery-based commission within five days of qualifying, according to Jim Sumner of the Ethics Commission.

But Manzie and Crenshaw said they were told by local Democratic Party officials and state election officials that the statement of economic interests was due by April 30, which is the date written on the form itself.

Both filed April 11. But according to testimony during the hearing, Manzie became a candidate Jan. 15 and Crenshaw on March 20, which means they would have missed the five-day threshold. -- Probate judge requests ruling - al.com

August 9, 2008

South Carolina: Green Party sues state for blocking its candidate

An AP report begins: The American Civil Liberties Union sued the South Carolina Election Commission on Thursday, charging the state has kept the Green Party from putting its candidate on November's ballot.

The ACLU said it filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Columbia because the commission wouldn't allow Eugene Platt on the ballot as a Green Party nominee for a Charleston-area state House seat after he lost his bid for the Democratic Party nomination in the June primary.

While the Democratic Party may want to use the state's so-called "sore loser" law to keep Platt off the ballot, "that doesn't trump the right of another party to run who they chose," ACLU lawyer Laughlin McDonald said in an interview as the lawsuit was filed.

The lawsuit asks the court to keep the state from using the sore loser statute to disqualify candidates and to require that Platt's name appear on the November ballot for the seat now held by Rep. Wallace Scarborough, R-Charleston. The sore loser statute prevents the loser of a primary election from appearing on a subsequent ballot as the nominee of a different political party. -- ACLU sues S.C. for nixing Green Party nominee | Spartanburg, South Carolina | GoUpstate.com | Spartanburg Herald-Journal

August 7, 2008

Massachusetts: Libertarians file suit when state won't allow tag-team petitions

A Politicker MA report begins: The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has filed a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Elections Division seeking to ensure the Libertarian presidential nominee appears on the November ballot in Massachusetts.

At issue is whether state election officials allow the Libertarian party to substitute Bob Barr and Wayne Root, its nominees for president and vice president, in place of George Phillies, a Massachusetts Libertarian that sought his party's nomination, on the November ballot. In July of 2007, Phillies asked officials if the Libertarian nominee could be substituted for his name on the ballot because he had to begin gathering the requisite number of signatures well before the Libertarians May 25 convention where its nominee would be chosen.

"The central issue in this case is the restriction of ballot access for third parties, which has been and continues to be a problem in Massachusetts," John Reinstein, Legal Director for the ACLU of Massachusetts, said in a statement.

When Phillies failed to garner the nomination at the convention, he contacted election officials asking to substitute Barr's name for his on the ballot. On June 5, the ACLU said, the elections division denied the request and said Barr could not rely on the signatures Phillies had already collected. The Libertarian Party, the officials said according to the ACLU, would have to repeat the signature gathering process for Barr to appear on the ballot. -- ACLU Mass. files lawsuit for Libertarian candidate to appear on Nov. ballot | Politicker MA

Alabama: would-be congressional candidate sues over petition-signature requirement (court doc attached)

The Birmingham News reports:
A retired Gardendale contractor who wants to run as an independent candidate in the 6th Congressional District has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the law he said requires him to get 6,155 signatures of qualified voters before he can be on the ballot.

Andy Shugart, in the lawsuit filed in Birmingham's federal court, contends state law violates his constitutional rights and is more restrictive than necessary by requiring he get the signatures. His suit said independent and minority party candidates for president or vice president are required to file a petition of at least 5,000 signatures. ...

The suit names Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman as the defendant. Jean Brown, the secretary of state's chief legal adviser, said the office had not been served with the suit and she was unable to comment.

The suit said Shugart meets all the qualifications to run for the U.S. House of Representatives, other than the requirement that he file a petition signed by 3 percent of qualified voters who voted in the last gubernatorial election. Shugart said he thought about running for office in the past, but there were always problems with ballot access. -- Gardendale congressional hopeful sues over signatures needed for petition- al.com

The complaint is attached here.

August 6, 2008

New York: Dem candidate accused of voter-petition fraud

Brownsox writes on Daily Kos: It's been an eventful few months for the Jack Davis campaign. First, they succeeded in getting the "millionaires' amendment" struck down. Then came allegations of bribery against the Davis campaign. In the meantime, Davis flooded the radio airwaves with the worst campaign songs anyone has ever heard.

Now, witness the latest of Davis' alleged transgressions: the campaign is under investigation for voter fraud. From a press release from Davis' primary opponent, Orange to Blue candidate Jon Powers:

WILLIAMSVILLE, NY – Michael Violante, the Niagara County District Attorney, announced today that his office will be investigating claims of petition fraud committed by Jack Davis' campaign for Congress in New York's 26th District.

Yesterday, Niagara County Democratic Chairman Dan Rivera requested a formal investigation from Violante's office into "petition irregularities" in petitions circulated for Jack Davis by a member of his paid staff, Kelly Taylor. Violante today announced his office would investigate on the matter and begin interviewing witnesses.

"Jack Davis is using fraud and bribes so blatantly that the District Attorney has decided to investigate. This behavior lacks honor and is unacceptable for a candidate for Congress," said Powers for Congress Campaign Manager John Gerken. "The voters of Western New York deserve a congressman who puts their interests first, not yet another congressman embroiled in scandals." -- NY-26: Jon Powers' primary opponent investigated for voter fraud

Alabama: independent prez candidates collecting signatures

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain likely won't be the only presidential candidates listed on Alabama's Nov. 4 ballot.

The campaigns of Ralph Nader, Bob Barr, Chuck Baldwin and Cynthia McKinney hope to have their names spread across the top of Alabama's ballot along with the major party candidates.

The independent and third-party candidates have supporters -- and in some cases paid professionals -- scurrying across the state to get voters to sign petitions to get them on the ballot.

For ballot access, the campaigns must collect the signatures of 5,000 people registered to vote in Alabama. The petitions must be submitted by Sept. 5 to the secretary of state in Montgomery. -- Independents work to get on state ballots

August 1, 2008

Illinois: independent candidate sues to get on congressional ballot

The Lake-Forester reports: Allen Stevo is suing the State Board of Elections to try and regain a spot on the November ballot for his independent candidacy in the 10th Congressional District.

The action came July 28, the same day the state board voted to remove him from the ballot, finding he had submitted less than 7,000 signatures, while independent candidates are required to submit at least 10,285.

Stevo stated he's "challenging Illinois draconian restrictions on independent candidates who attempt to gain a spot on the ballot. Illinois' restrictions are widely considered among ballot access experts to be the most severe in the country, ranking next to those in Georgia and North Carolina."

Stevo was required to submit 10,285 signatures to the State Board of Elections. His Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, was required to submit 673. His Democratic opponent, Dan Seals, was required to submit 1,001. That is a difference of 9,612 and 9,284 respectively. -- <span class=redtext><b id=red>Updated 7/31: </b></span>Stevo files federal suit to regain ballot spot :: News :: PIONEER PRESS :: Lake Forester

July 27, 2008

Nevada: term limits valid, court holds; 21 find their campaigns are over

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports: One day before Nevada's early voting was set to begin, the state Supreme Court confirmed Friday that an amendment to the state Constitution barring public officials from serving more than 12 years is valid -- effectively ending the campaigns of 21 veteran officeholders.

However, state legislators who were elected in the Nov. 5, 1996, election and officially took office before the term limit provision became effective on Nov. 27, 1996, are not affected by the ruling, the court said in a second opinion.

A lawmaker's term in office begins the day after election, so those who won their seats in 1996 were already on the job when the term-limit amendment was finalized. But public officials begin their jobs in January, so those elected in 1996 didn't start work until 1997, after the amendment's effective date. -- State's high court: 12-year limits valid | www.rgj.com | Reno Gazette-Journal

Hat-tip to How Appealing for the link.

July 19, 2008

Ohio: judge orders state to put Libertarian Party on ballot

The New York Times reports: Ohio must include the Libertarian Party’s nominees on its ballot in November, a court has ruled, complicating Senator John McCain’s effort to win conservative votes in a hotly contested state rich in electoral votes.

The Libertarian candidate, Bob Barr, formerly a Republican congressman from Georgia, will lead his party’s ticket, which includes the vice-presidential candidate, Wayne Allyn Root, and candidates for governor and several Congressional seats. ...

The court order, issued Thursday, directs the Ohio secretary of state, Jennifer L. Brunner, to disregard her office’s current guidelines for ballot inclusion, which require eligible parties to gather valid signatures equal to one-half of 1 percent of the total vote in 2006 or to have garnered at least 5 percent of the last election’s votes. The Libertarians submitted 6,545 signatures in March, far below the approximately 20,000 needed. Ms. Brunner’s office has not decided whether to appeal the ruling. ...

On the other side of the political spectrum, Ralph Nader is seeking to run on the Ohio ballot as an independent candidate, which requires 5,000 valid signatures. He plans to submit 15,000, the maximum amount Ohio law allows, in August, said Jason Kafoury, national coordinator for Mr. Nader’s campaign. -- Court Orders Ohio to Include Libertarian Party on Ballot

Oklahoma: Libertarians sue for ballot access

The Oklahoman reports: A third-party presidential candidate has filed a federal lawsuit to try and force his way on to Oklahoma's ballot in November.

Bob Barr, a former Republican congressman selected as Libertarian presidential candidate, contends state election laws are discriminatory because unrecognized political party candidates cannot file to run for president in Oklahoma. -- Libertarian sues to get spot on ballot | NewsOK.com

July 13, 2008

Pennsylvania: 12 pols and staffers charged in "Bonusgate" arrests, some for work on anti-Nader case

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports: Grand jurors here [Harrisburg] and in Pittsburgh cataloged what they described as a culture of corruption that allowed former state Rep. Michael Veon, current Rep. Sean Ramaley and 10 current and former Democratic staffers to divert millions of dollars in state resources, including more than $1 million in illegal pay bonuses.

The jurors said Mr. Veon and the staff members conspired to arrange hefty year-end pay bonuses to House employees who worked on political campaigns over a three-year period, while Mr. Ramaley is accused of working full-time on his 2004 House campaign in Beaver County while drawing a taxpayer salary as a member of Mr. Veon's staff.

The findings ran from the political to the salacious.

It found that tax money was used to bump third-party candidates Ralph Nader and Carl Romanelli from the Pennsylvania ballot in 2004 and 2006. Grand jurors said state money was used to provide a no-work job to a high-ranking House aide's mistress. -- 12 face charges in bonus scandal

Lancaster Online reports: The Harrisburg Patriot-News previously reported that all four legislative caucuses paid nearly $4 million in bonuses to state employees over the last few years. The grand jury investigating the allegations, dubbed Bonusgate, found that House Democrats paid the most — $1.2 million in bonuses for campaign activities from 2004 to 2006. ...

According to the grand jury, Paul Resch, of Columbia, Darlene Zerbe, of Lancaster and Jonathan Price, of Clay Township, were among at least 36 caucus employees who worked to challenge independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's nominating petitions in 2004. The three local Democrats were not charged.

Democratic challenges resulted in Nader being knocked off the ballot, giving Democratic nominee John Kerry a better chance at winning the state that year. The grand jury report says none of the supervisors of a "veritable army of caucus staffers" ever asked the workers to take unpaid leave, and that the bulk of the research was done in the Capitol complex and in Veon's Beaver Falls district office.

The grand jury said Resch and Zerbe received unspecified bonuses for the Nader work; Price did not. Elsewhere in the report, the grand jury says Price, a Clay Township supervisor, was one of about 17 caucus employees assigned to work against state Senate candidate Mike Diven, a "thorn in the side" of Veon, in a 2005 special election in Allegheny County. -- Scandal touches 3 other Demos

July 11, 2008

Arizona: Nader wins 2004 suit over petition restrictions

Capitol Media Services reports: Arizona's early June deadline for independent presidential candidates to get on the general election ballot is illegal, a federal appellate court ruled Wednesday.

In a unanimous decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals accepted the arguments by an attorney for Ralph Nader that the deadline, which applies only to those not affiliated with major parties, is unfair.

The judges rejected arguments by Secretary of State Jan Brewer the early deadline is necessary to print ballots for the November election. The judges said the state's arguments held no water because election officials don't know for weeks - or months - later what other issues will also be on the ballot.

And they noted the deadline doesn't apply to the major parties who are allowed to submit the names of their candidates for the ballot in August or even later.

Potentially more significant, the judges also agreed with Nader that it is illegal to forbid anyone but Arizona residents to circulate petitions for presidential candidates. -- News: Federal court opens door for Ralph Nader to run in Arizona | court, run, door : YumaSun

The opinion is here.

July 1, 2008

Arizona: signatures challenged for use of P.O. box addresses

The Gallup Independent reports: Native American tribal, community and state leaders gathered on the lawn of Arizona’s Capitol June 25 to protest that their petition to vote rights were being assaulted.

The petition signatures of some Native American voters was being challenged on the grounds that they used post office boxes during the collection of signatures for nominating petitions in state House and Senate races in Northern Arizona.

State laws call for those signing petitions to give physical addresses, but many Native Americans living on reservations do not have physical addresses. ...

Mary Kim Titla, a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and a candidate for Congressional District 1, said a post office box is what Indians use to receive their bills and what they use to file their income taxes. ...

The nominating petitions challenge Navajo candidates Albert Tom and Chris Descheeny for the Arizona House. If these two candidates were disqualified for the race because of lack of valid signatures then their two opponents wouldn’t have any challengers except for write-in candidates. -- Natives protest challenge to rights

June 30, 2008

Alabama: state supreme courts backs gubernatorial appointment -- at least till November

The Alabama Supreme Court decided today that it was completely legal for Gov. Riley to make an appointment to fill a vacancy on the Jefferson County Commission. Thus, Commissioner George Bowman will serve until his successor is elected in November. The Supreme Court leaves it up to the Circuit Court to figure out how the political parties are going to nominate candidates.

The decision in Working v. Jefferson County Commission is here.

Disclosure: James Blacksher and I represent Fred Plump, one of the parties who argued against the right of the Governor to appoint at all.

Update: The Birmingham News story is here.

Alabama: judicial candidates sues after disqualification

The local NPR station reports that Ray Bryan has sued the Republican Party to keep the Party from decertifying his primary win. The latest story in the Anniston Star is behind a subscription firewall, but the Star reported a week ago: Local attorney Ray Bryan may not become circuit judge despite having won the June GOP primary election, according to state Republican Party officials.

Alabama Republican Party Executive Director John Ross said the party's steering and candidates committee has moved to decertify Bryan, and plans to appoint a replacement, after he was late filing forms required by the state's Fair Campaign Practices Act. -- Bryan may lose judgeship over finance filings | AnnistonStar.com

June 29, 2008

Alabama: GOP sues to get its candidate on the Jefferson County ballot

Alabama Politics in Doc's Political Parlor reports: There is a confusing story in Jefferson County that is turning into a pitched battle between county Democrats and Republicans.

Seems that about 18 months ago, Republican Andy Smith was appointed by Gov. Riley to fill an unexpired term as Bessemer Division Tax Assessor. That term ends Sept. 30, 2009. There is an election for the seat in this November’s general election.

Here is where it gets confusing:

A 1957 state law that applies only to Jefferson County requires political appointees to run for the unexpired term of their predecessor if the appointment was made more than six months before the next general election.

To keep the seat without interruption, not only does Andy Smith have to qualify for and win the election for the term that begins in 2009, he also has to win the election for the remainder of the unexpired term. For which he did not file qualifying papers. -- Parties in Heated Battle in Jefferson County

Links to the complaint and the Democrats' response is on the Political Party.

June 5, 2008

Alabama: Supreme Court hears arguments in Jefferson County election case

The Birmingham News reports: A decision on the dispute over a vacancy on the Jefferson County Commission may hinge on whether a special election to fill it was legal or if a group of residents had the right to sue to block the vote.

The Alabama Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday over how to fill the commission vacancy created when Larry Langford resigned to become Birmingham s mayor.

The justices did not say when they would rule.

Justices questioned whether the people who sued to block the Feb. 5 special election had a right to file the case. If not, the court could rule there was no valid challenge to the election, won by Birmingham City Councilman William Bell.

But the justices also discussed whether the 1977 law allowing the county's election commission to call for the vote was unconstitutional. Gov. Bob Riley's lawyer said state law gives the governor sole power to fill the seat and the county special-election law should be struck down.

If a court majority agrees, the governor's appointee, George Bowman, would be the commissioner. -- Right to sue, hold special election at heart of District 1 case - al.com

May 28, 2008

Massachusetts: GOP candidate may be excluded from US Senate ballot

The Boston Globe reports: When the deadline for certification passed yesterday, Jim Ogonowski, the Republican leadership's choice to challenge US Senator John F. Kerry, was 82 signatures short of qualifying for the GOP primary ballot, according to the state's central voter registry.

But Ogonowski's campaign aides contend there are enough certified signatures at various town offices around the state not filed yet on the computerized registry to put him across the 10,000 threshold.

Local election clerks were legally required to finish their certifications yesterday. The majority of those clerks have shipped their results to the secretary of state's office via computer, but some may still be submitting the certifications by hand. ...

Even if Ogonowski does get the 82 signatures he needs, his fight probably is not over.

Election specialists say he will not have the needed cushion of extra signatures to insulate himself from legal challenges. -- Ogonowski falls short on signature deadline

May 22, 2008

Massachusetts: replacing Kennedy

AP reports: People in Massachusetts suddenly are thinking the unthinkable: Who possibly could succeed Sen. Edward Kennedy, patriarch of the famed political family that has dominated the state for more than four decades? ...

Unlike most states, Kennedy's successor would be chosen by a special election, not the governor.

State law requires a special election for the seat no sooner than 145 days and no later than 160 days after a vacancy occurs. The law bans an interim appointee.

The law was changed in 2004, when Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry became the Democratic presidential nominee and Romney was governor. Before the change, the governor would have appointed a replacement to serve until the next general election. -- Thinking the unthinkable: Who follows Ted Kennedy? : NPR

May 20, 2008

Alabama: incumbent forgets to qualify for short term

The Birmingham News reports: "Election law is really quirky," said Sid Browning, Jefferson County supervisor of elections. "This is a prime example. It's really confusing." ...

Even if incumbent Bessemer Division Tax Assessor Andy Smith wins the November general election, he will be out of a job for a year.

Ron Yarbrough, meanwhile, will be the next tax assessor for that period - because he filled out qualifying paperwork that Smith didn t fill out.

A 1957 state law that applies only to Jefferson County requires political appointees to run for the unexpired term of their predecessor if the appointment was made more than six months before the next general election.

Gov. Bob Riley appointed Smith 18 months ago to replace the retiring Karen Tucker. When qualifying to run for office, Smith, a Republican, should have qualified to run for the balance of Tucker's term as well as a new term. -- Bessemer Division Tax Assessor Andy Smith will be out of a job even if he wins general election- al.com

May 1, 2008

Senate says McCain is "natural-born citizen"

The New York Times reports: The Senate on Wednesday delivered its judgment on a constitutional question involving one of its own and formally declared that Senator John McCain is eligible to be president — at least from a citizenship perspective.

Weighing in on an arcane question that has arisen because of Mr. McCain’s birth in the Panama Canal Zone, the Senate without opposition approved a nonbinding resolution recognizing that Mr. McCain is a natural-born citizen.

Among the basic qualifications the Constitution lays out for president is that the person be a natural-born citizen, a phrase not defined and one that has been subjected to various interpretations.

At the request of Mr. McCain’s campaign, two constitutional lawyers studied the issue and found in favor of Mr. McCain, whose father was stationed in the zone with the Navy when the future candidate was born. Colleagues of both parties in the Senate, including his two potential Democratic rivals, concur. -- Senate Says McCain Is Qualified

April 17, 2008

Maryland: legislation moves special for 4th CD

CQ Politics reports: A special election to fill a pending vacancy in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District will be held June 17 under legislation, signed Thursday afternoon by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, that allows a speedier schedule than usually allowed under state election statutes. The law, tailored to be effective only for this contest, will allow Maryland officials to skip a step in the state’s special election process following the upcoming resignation of eight-term Democratic Rep. Albert R. Wynn .

O’Malley, in a statement released Thursday announcing his signing of the bill, said he would issue a proclamation Friday establishing June 17, a Tuesday, as the special election date. That date would conform to the procedure embodied in the new law.

The law authorizes O’Malley to issue a proclamation, setting the special general election date, within 10 days after the date that “an office of representative in Congress becomes vacant or the governor accepts a written notice from the representative announcing a future date of resignation.” The date would have to fall between 36 days and 60 days after the notification, which he received from Wynn last week. The law also requires O’Malley to set deadlines for the candidates nominated by their parties to qualify for the ballot. ...

District Republicans are likely to opt for Peter James, a technology consultant who won the Feb. 12 GOP primary to face Edwards in the November election. James, though, has said he might sue to block the new law, charging that district residents’ right to choose party nominees in a primary is being abridged and that the legislation creates a short time frame that would restrict the ability of third-party candidates to gather enough signatures to qualify for the special election ballot.

The law allows the Democratic and Republican central committees in each of the two counties to recommend candidates to run as the parties’ nominees in the special election. A candidate is automatically nominated if both counties agree on their choice. If not, then the party’s state central committee would make the final decision. --
CQ Politics | Maryland House Special Election to be Held June 17

March 22, 2008

Alabama: voters who object to voting appeal to get quick overturn approving the vote

The Birmingham News reports: Three Jefferson County residents asked the Alabama Supreme Court Thursday to quickly overturn a Circuit Court judge's ruling that William Bell is entitled to be the District 1 county commissioner.

Lawyers for Patricia Working, Rick Erdemir and Floyd McGinnis filed a notice of appeal to the state's high court and recommended a March 28 deadline for written legal arguments.

They requested an expedited review of Judge Scott Vowell's ruling Tuesday against them and Gov. Bob Riley in a dispute over how to fill the commission seat held by Larry Langford before he resigned to become Birmingham's mayor. -- Jefferson County residents ask Alabama high court to quickly overturn county commissioner ruling- al.com

Alabama: Jefferson County special election upheld, judge rules

The Birmingham News reports: William Bell is entitled to be the District 1 representative on the Jefferson County Commission, Circuit Court Judge Scott Vowell ruled Tuesday.

The case will next go to the Alabama Supreme Court. The state's high court must lift an injunction before county election officials can certify Bell as the winner of the Feb. 5 special election to replace Larry Langford.

Three county residents, only one of whom lived in District 1, challenged the election date in a suit filed Jan. 31. Albert Jordan, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said he would file an appeal today. ...

Vowell's decision Tuesday upheld a state law that allows special elections - in Jefferson County only - when an office is vacated. The judge also ruled that Gov. Bob Riley did not have authority to appoint George Bowman to the commission. ...

A spokeswoman for Riley said he also would appeal. -- Judge rules William Bell is District 1 representative on Jefferson County Commission; case goes to state Supreme Court- al.com

February 29, 2008

Senator wants to make only some Americans-at-birth "natural born" and eligible to be president

The New York Times reports: Senator John McCain said Thursday that he had no concerns about his meeting the constitutional qualifications for the presidency because of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone. A Democratic colleague said she wanted to remove even a trace of doubt.

The Democrat, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, introduced legislation that would declare that any child born abroad to citizens serving in the United States military would meet the constitutional requirement that anyone serving as president be a “natural born” citizen. ...

Traveling on his presidential campaign, Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, said that he was convinced he was eligible under the natural-born definition and that from his perspective the matter had been reviewed and settled in earlier campaigns. Mr. McCain was born in 1936 on a military base in the Canal Zone, where his father, a Navy officer, was stationed at the time. ...

Ms. McCaskill said that her legislation should be noncontroversial and that Congress should move rapidly to clear up any ambiguity. She acknowledged there could be some who believe the only route to resolve the confusion is through a constitutional amendment. -- Bill Would Remove Doubt on Presidential Eligibility - New York Times

February 27, 2008

Ohio: McCain received ballot spot because of federal matching-fund certification

The New York Times reports: Did Senator John McCain of Arizona benefit unfairly from rules that automatically placed him on the ballot in Ohio once he qualified for public campaign financing?

The legal question, which also has political significance given Mr. McCain’s reputation for crusading against the influence of money on elections, is being raised by Democratic Party officials ahead of the Ohio Republican primary next Tuesday now that the McCain campaign has decided to pull out of public financing.

The issue emerged Monday in a complaint that the Democratic National Committee filed with the Federal Election Commission questioning Mr. McCain’s right to withdraw from the system and bypass the spending limits that come with it. ...

Second, the [Democratic] officials object to the way Mr. McCain used his certification for federal matching money to get on the ballot in states like Ohio and Delaware. That certification allowed him to bypass the signature collection usually required to get on the ballot, and saved the campaign money — which should bar him from withdrawing from the system, the Democrats say. -- Democrats Raise Legal Point Over McCain and Ohio as He Opts Out of Public Money - New York Times

February 4, 2008

Bloomberg will try to get on 15 states' ballots

AP reports: Michael Bloomberg may soon begin a massive operation to get on the ballot in up to 15 states even though the billionaire mayor may not decide until May whether to run for president, according to associates.

Despite John McCain's widening lead in the Republican race, an imminent ballot deadline for third-parties in Texas and a recently expanded denial of interest from Bloomberg himself, these associates say the mayor and his operatives are actively laying necessary groundwork for an independent campaign and are in no hurry to decide whether or not to run.

Bloomberg's political operatives have spent several months assembling the skeleton of a nationwide ballot-access movement, one confidant of the mayor told The Associated Press.

Bloomberg's evaluation of his own plans could stretch all the way into May, contrary to conventional wisdom that he would make up his mind after Super Tuesday, said Doug Schoen, who was Bloomberg's pollster in his mayoral campaigns and remains part of the mayor's inner circle. -- GazetteXtra

January 30, 2008

Reform Institute issues report on presidential-candidate ballot-access rules

From a Reform Institute press release: Raising large sums of money, building an organization and attracting grassroots support are among the many challenges facing those who seek the highest office in the land. However, one of the greatest obstacles to candidates for the presidency is simply getting their name on the ballot. Presidential Ballot Access: State by State Report Card, a new report from the Reform Institute, a nonpartisan public policy group, provides a comprehensive analysis of the complex and often overwhelming process of getting a candidate placed on the ballot in all fifty states.

The report finds that campaigns face a daunting task in navigating the varied and sometimes Byzantine procedures required by each state. For Independent and third party candidates, the undertaking can be downright Herculean. These candidates often face considerable obstacles, such as petition signature requirements that are higher than those required for candidates from the major parties. The result is that electoral competition and correspondingly, voter participation, suffers.

“We are currently seeing in both the Democratic and Republican primaries that when the contests are competitive and voters have real choices, voter participation is strong and interest and involvement in the process increases significantly,” stated Cecilia Martinez, Executive Director of the Reform Institute. “As more voters become dissatisfied with politics as usual and look beyond the two traditional parties for solutions, it is critical that they have ample options on the ballot.”

Presidential Ballot Access provides a state-by-state examination of ballot access requirements and grades each state on whether the rules are reasonable and equitable across party lines. The report card focuses on petition signature requirements and registration fees because they are consistent variables across states and they represent the most common means of limiting ballot access. -- Limiting Ballot Access Means Limiting Voter Choice

January 17, 2008

New York: Scotus says, no right to a "fair shot" at judgeship nomination

The New York Times reports: The challenge to New York’s method for choosing candidates to run in judicial elections ended in failure at the United States Supreme Court on Wednesday when not a single justice accepted the plaintiffs’ claim that the system was unconstitutional.

Voting 9 to 0, the court overturned a 2006 ruling by the federal appeals court in New York that declared the party convention system for choosing nominees to the state’s trial court unconstitutional. The case, brought in early 2004 by a group of voters, unsuccessful judicial candidates, and the civic group Common Cause, had shaken the state’s judicial politics.

The appeals court had ordered the state to substitute a direct primary election for the judicial convention system, which it said deprived candidates who lacked the backing of party leaders of a realistic chance of getting on the ballot. The order was held up awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision.

Justice Antonin Scalia’s succinct 12-page opinion for the court was dismissive of what he characterized as the lawsuit’s premise. “None of our cases establishes an individual’s constitutional right to have a ‘fair shot’ at winning the party’s nomination,” he wrote. -- Justices Uphold New York’s Judge System

December 31, 2007

Mississippi: Gov. appoints Wicker as Senator

The Clarion-Ledger reports: First District U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker was appointed by Gov. Haley Barbour to fill the Senate seat vacated by Trent Lott at a news conference in Jackson this morning. ...

Barbour’s decision will leave a new vacancy — this time in the U.S. House of Representatives that will have to be filled by a special election. ...

Meanwhile, the status of a dispute between state Attorney General Jim Hood and the governor over the timing of the special election is unclear.

Hood has said it should be within 90 days after the appointment. He has said he would file suit in Hinds County Circuit Court if the two men could not come to some agreement on the issue. -- Barbour names Wicker to Senate seat | clarionledger.com | The Clarion-Ledger

December 27, 2007

Alabama: profile of Fred Plump, plaintiff against Gov. Riley in election suit

The Birmingham News has a profile of Fred Plump, the plaintiff in the suit against Gov. Riley's appointment of a county commissioner: Fred Plump looks out for the underdog.

When a guy he knew was sure to get pummeled by friends in the neighborhood, Plump took a stand and walked him to safety.

"I knew they were wrong," Plump said. "So, I decided to walk this guy clean out of the neighborhood, stepping out with my neck on the line. When I saw things that were not right, I was always standing up for others."

Plump, of Fairfield, filed a federal discrimination lawsuit in the early 1970s when he sought to become a Birmingham firefighter after passing the firefighter's exam, but was passed over for a spot. -- Activist Fred Plump relishes fight with Gov. Riley over Jefferson County post- al.com

Disclosure: Mr. Plump is represented by Jim Blacksher and me in the suit against Riley.

December 21, 2007

Alabama: Woodruff files motion for reconsider in Supreme Court

The Talladega Daily Home reports: Attorneys for Talladega County Circuit Judge Chad Woodruff, attorney Buddy Campbell and members of the Talladega County Judicial Selection Committee have filed a motion with the state Supreme Court asking that body to reconsider a 7-2 decision essentially voiding Woodruff’s election.

In a Nov. 30 decision, a unanimous court held that a 2006 act providing for a gubernatorial appointment of Talladega’s third circuit judgeship was unconstitutional. Seven of the justices, however, held that the unconstitutional portion of the law was severable from the rest of it, meaning the position is to be filled by election in 2010.

Woodruff was elected in 2006 and sworn in in February of this year, after a circuit court ruling that the appointment language was unconstitutional and unseverable. This ruling was appealed and partially reversed by the Supreme Court.

Woodruff qualified for the office after the appointment bill had been passed by the Legislature but before it had been signed into law by the governor. -- Motion filed asking court to reconsider decision voiding Woodruff's election

December 8, 2007

Alabama: town files suit seeking to vacate a council seat

The Prattville Progress reports: Autaugaville officials have filed a suit in Autauga County Circuit Court seeking the re­moval of a town council member who has yet to resign her elected position although she has lived in another state for nearly two years.

According to a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment filed in November, Latanya Cyrus has missed 11 of 21 regularly sched­uled town council meetings held between the time she was elect­ed in 2004, and June 2007. She has attended no meetings since December 2005, according to the suit.

The court filing also con­tends that in June town officials sent a certified letter to Cyrus, who now lives in Dallas, Texas, asking that she voluntarily re­sign her seat. She failed to re­spond to the request. The suit asks that Circuit Court Judge John B. Bush declare the coun­cil member's seat vacant in or­der that a replacement can be named.

Mayor F.B. Ward said Thurs­day that the town took the legal action in order that Cyrus's re­placement could assume the seat far in advance of next year's election and become familiar with the administration of town government. -- montgomeryadvertiser.com :: Suit filed to remove absentee member from town council

Hat tip to Doc's Political Parlor.

December 6, 2007

Alabama: Election commission still planning on an election in Jefferson County

Doc's Political Parlor reports: Sid Browning, Supervisor of Elections for Jefferson County, told the Parlor this week that the county is preparing to hold a special election on February 5th though the Governor has already appointed a replacement to fill the vacated County Commission seat. Larry Langford created the vacancy when he left the commission after winning the Birmingham mayor’s race. Governor Bob Riley has already appointed George Bowman to serve in the seat, but his authority to do that is being challenged in court by Fairfield resident Fred Plump.

The Jefferson County Election Commission “would be remiss not to prepare for the election” given the 1977 Act that, in the Commission’s understanding, calls for an election to replace Langford, said Browning. A 2004 law authorizes the governor to fill county commission vacancies by appointment but excludes counties, such as Jefferson, with their own rules for special election. Riley’s administration claims that the 2004 law voids the 1977 law that specifies Jefferson County fills vacancies with elections.

The Riley administration has lost a similar case in Mobile County pending appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Browning told the Parlor that he sees no substantive difference between the Mobile County and Jefferson County cases. -- Two Trains Going Down Two Tracks

December 5, 2007

Alabama: Cooper appeals, asks for expedited appeal

The Birmingham News reports: Patrick Cooper's appeal challenging Larry Langford's election as Birmingham mayor may be argued before the Alabama Supreme Court by mid-January, one of Cooper's lawyers said Tuesday.

Cooper filed notice last week that he would appeal a Jefferson County judge's ruling upholding Langford's Oct. 9 election, when he won 50.3 percent of the vote in a 10-person race.

On Tuesday, Circuit Judge Allwin Horn ordered an expedited deadline of Dec. 12 to prepare the trial transcript and court record and file it with the Alabama Supreme Court, said Jim Ward, one of Cooper's lawyers.

Ward said he plans to ask the Alabama Supreme Court to fast-track the schedule for Cooper's and Langford's sides to file briefs. -- Patrick Cooper wants appeal to be fast-tracked in suit challenging Larry Langford's election as Birmingham mayor- al.com

December 1, 2007

Alabama: Supreme Court holds for electing a judge -- just not yet

The Talladega Daily Home reports: In a 7-2 decision published Friday, the Alabama Supreme Court voided the election of Chad Woodruff to the office of Circuit Judge Place 3, overturning a circuit court ruling from February.

Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and Justice Tom Parker dissented.

The majority of the court agreed the provision of a 2006 act filling the third judgeship by gubernatorial appointment rather than by an election was unconstitutional, but went on to find that the appointment language was severable from the rest of the act, meaning the office is to be filled by election in 2010. ...

During the 2006 regular session of the Legislature, a bill was introduced and passed that would further delay filling the position until 2009, when the governor would make an appointment based on the recommendation of the Talladega County Judicial Selection Committee. That candidate would then stand for election the following year.

Woodruff qualified for the office and was certified as the Democratic Party’s candidate after the 2006 act had passed both houses of the Legislature but before it had been signed into law by the governor. He ran unopposed that November and won more than 14,000 votes. -- Daily Home - State Supreme Court voids election of judge

November 27, 2007

Alabama: Birmingham Mayor Langford beats challenge to his residency

The Birmingham News reports: A judge ruled Monday that Larry Langford is a legal resident of Birmingham, rejecting a challenge to his election as Birmingham mayor.

Circuit Judge Allwin Horn ruled against a lawsuit filed by Patrick Cooper, who ran second in the 10-person race but failed to force a runoff.

Cooper contended that Langford never really abandoned his home in Fairfield before seeking the Birmingham office. Mayoral candidates must be older than 25, residents and registered voters.

But Horn ruled that Langford, 59, met residency requirements by renting a downtown Birmingham loft before qualifying and registering both himself and his wife, Melva, as Birmingham voters. -- Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford is a legal resident, can remain in office, judge rules - Breaking News from The Birmingham News - al.com

The News also has the actual decision here.

November 17, 2007

Alabama: Cooper v. Langford documents

I requested that each of the parties in the election contest, Cooper v. Langford, dealing with the residency of the new Mayor of Birmingham, make their briefs available to me for uploading here. Mayor Langford's side has provided the following:

Brief in support of Motion to Dismiss PDF
Langford Reply Brief PDF
Langford Supplement to Reply Brief (without the attached case) PDF

October 30, 2007

Alabama: Election Commission calls for special election to fill vacancy on Jefferson County commission

The Birmingham News reports: The Jefferson County Election Commission on Monday set a Feb. 5 election to replace Larry Langford on the County Commission.

That action sets up a likely legal showdown with Gov. Bob Riley, who maintains he has the authority to appoint Langford's replacement. ...

"What the Election Commission has done is both illegal and unconstitutional," said Ken Wallis, Riley's chief legal adviser. "They are acting on a law that is invalid."

Wallis said the election officials are wrong to cite the 1977 legislation and are misinterpreting the 2004 act. The 1977 act is void because it was passed before the 2004 law took effect, Wallis said. -- Election set to replace Langford- al.com

October 29, 2007

Alabama: response filed by plaintiffs in Supreme Court suit re Mobile County Commission election

My co-counsel and I have filed a motion to dismiss or affirm the State of Alabama's appeal in Riley v. Kennedy, No. 07-77 in the U.S. Supreme Court. The State's jurisdictional statement is available here.

The case was brought by my clients under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for an injunction against the Governor's appointment of a replacement county commissioner in Mobile County. Our suit asserted that the Governor had not obtained preclearance of an Alabama Supreme Court decision before enforcing it.

Earlier posts are here, here, here, here, and here.

October 25, 2007

Alabama: showdown looming on election or appointment to fill Langford vacancy

The Birmingham News reports: The Jefferson County Election Commission plans to hold a special election to replace Larry Langford on the Jefferson County Commission, setting up a potential confrontation with Gov. Bob Riley, who claims he has authority to make the appointment.

Jefferson County voters in District 1 have a right to vote on Langford's replacement when he becomes mayor of Birmingham, Jefferson County Probate Judge Alan King said Wednesday. ...

King said a Jefferson County statute calls for an election to replace an open commission seat. In addition, he said, 2004 state legislation that gives the governor power to appoint specifically excludes counties with their own rules for special elections, such as Jefferson County. ...

Hutchison said Riley, a Republican, gets his authority from 2004 legislation, and the Jefferson County law is void because it was passed before the 2004 law took effect.

Hutchison said new legislation exempting the county from the governor's appointment authority would have to be created to give Jefferson County that right. -- Langford seat election in works- al.com

October 11, 2007

Alabama: Governor plans to appoint commissioner even though law calls for election

The Birmingham News reports: Gov. Bob Riley plans to appoint a replacement for Birmingham Mayor-elect Larry Langford on the Jefferson County Commission, the governor's spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The governor would not specify who might be appointed or how long it would take, said Tara Hutchison. ...

Langford may take over the mayor's office any time on or before the fourth Tuesday in November, according to the city's Mayor-Council Act.

Hutchison said the governor's legal office is of the opinion he has the authority to make the appointment.

But a Jefferson County-only law in the state code calls for a special election when a seat is vacated well before a county election is scheduled. The next election is set for 2010. -- Riley says he'll name Langford successor- al.com

July 5, 2007

Alabama: 11th Circuit upholds restrictive ballot access law

Ballot Access News reports: On June 29, the 11th circuit upheld Alabama’s ballot access law for new and minor parties, and for non-presidential independent candidates. That law, first put into effect in 1998, requires a petition of 3% of the last gubernatorial vote. The decision was by Judge Frank Hull, who already had a bad record on ballot access. She had previously upheld Georgia’s district petition requirement of a petition signed by 5% of the number of registered voters, even though no minor party candidate has used that petition for U.S. House in 63 years.

The decision is Swanson v Worley, no. 06-13643. The decision does not mention that a law virtually identical to Alabama’s was declared unconstitutional law year in U.S. District Court in Arkansas. Nor does the decision mention the favorable ballot access in 2006 in Illinois and Ohio, in the 7th and 6th circuits. The decision does not mention the U.S. Supreme Court’s teaching in Storer v Brown, and in Mandel v Bradley, that ballot access laws that are seldom used are probably unconstitutional. -- 11th Circuit Upholds Alabama Ballot Access Law

The opinion is available here.

Thanks to Richard Winger for the tip.

May 21, 2007

Alabama: further developments in what should have been a simple VRA case

After the federal court ordered the Governor to obtain preclearance under the Voting Rights Act before he administers the law requiring appointment of replacement county commissioners, the Justice Department denied preclearance and a request for reconsideration. The Court then granted plaintiffs' motion for relief and denied the State's motion for a stay. The State has now filed a notice of appeal.

However, the Probate Judge has not called the election yet, but has moved to intervene in the federal case and asks the Court to set a schedule for the election that will take longer than the 90 days allowed by the statute. The plaintiffs have just filed a response suggesting a shorter time limit.

Earlier information on the case is here.

Disclosure: Cecil Gardner and Vance McCrary (of the The Gardner Firm in Mobile, AL) and I represented the plaintiffs in that action.

May 17, 2007

Mississippi: Judge orders Democrats to put Dale on primary ballot

The Commercial Dispatch reports: Mississippi's longtime insurance commissioner, George Dale, will be on the Democratic Party primary ballot.

Calhoun County Circuit Judge Henry Lackey on Monday reversed a Mississippi Democratic Executive Committee decision that had blocked Dale from the Aug. 7 party primary.

Lackey said he does not have the power to let Dale run as an independent - a request Dale made after the Democratic Executive Committee, in a 16-6 vote, said in March the commissioner can't run under the party label because he publicly supported President Bush for re-election in 2004. ...

Dale filed a lawsuit challenging the decision. Party officials last month admitted in court it wrongly disqualified Dale and offered to put him on the primary ballot, but he asked Lackey for permission to run as an independent. -- Dale gets spot on Dem ballot, judge rules

April 13, 2007

Louisiana: Breaux says No after Foti won't say at all

The Times-Picayune reports: Former U.S. Sen. John Breaux said Friday that he will not be a candidate for governor this year.

Breaux made the announcement just hours after Attorney General Charles Foti declined to issue a legal opinion on Breaux's qualifications to run. A spokeswoman for Breaux said the lack of a definitive ruling persuaded him to back away from a campaign he has flirted with for weeks.

The statement from Foti said "the issue of whether Mr. Breaux has remained a Louisiana citizen for the preceding five years is an issue of fact, and one that appears certain to be litigated. Due to the restrictions imposed by law as well as this office's policies and historical practice, I must refrain from rendering an opinion on the ultimate issue of whether Mr. Breaux meets the qualifications to become a candidate in the governor's race." -- Times-Picayune: Updates: Breaux says he won't run for governor

Thanks to DailyKos for the link.

April 6, 2007

Virgin Islands: constitutional convention delegates may qualify

Caribbean Net News reports: The US Virgin Islands moved one step closer to its fifth Constitutional Convention Monday with the announcement that eligible delegate candidates can obtain petitions which will enable them to appear on the ballot for the June 12, 2007, special election.

That announcement was the subject of a press conference held jointly by the University of the Virgin Islands, which is spearheading a public education project in support of the convention, and the Virgin Islands Board of Elections, which will oversee the election process. ...

In presenting his calendar of dates which will govern the election process, elections supervisor John Abramson noted the collaborative activities between his board and the University in making sure that the public is engaged and involved in the work of the convention.

Abramson presented a calendar of dates beginning with April 2, 2007, on which date the petitions become available at election offices throughout the territory and May 16, 2007, by which date all petitions must be returned to the Board of Elections. -- Caribbean Net News: The source for news throughout the Caribbean

March 28, 2007

Pennsylvania: judge blocks referendum in Allegheny County

AP reports: Allegheny County voters will not get to decide in May whether the sheriff should be appointed rather than elected.

County Judge Eugene B. Strassburger III on Wednesday blocked the proposed referendum, saying the county has to wait five years after its last change to home-rule government to make any new changes.

The county amended its form of government in 2005 by allowing six of 10 previously elected row offices to be appointed. The county tried to bypass the five-year rule by having the decision on the sheriff's position take effect in 2010. -- PennLive.com: NewsFlash - Judge bars May vote on appointing Allegheny County sheriff

Louisiana: Legislators ask AG to issue (or not issue) opinion on Breaux qualifications

The Shreveport Times
The Shreveport Times reports: A Republican and a Democrat on Tuesday jointly asked Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti for a legal opinion on whether former U.S. Sen. John Breaux is a Louisiana citizen and eligible to run for governor this fall.

State Rep. William Daniel, R-Baton Rouge, and state Rep. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, chairman of the Legislative Democratic Caucus, asked Foti to respond "within the next five days if possible."

Later in the day, another bipartisan pair — state Sen. Noble Ellington, D-Winnsboro, and Rep. Jim Tucker, R-Metairie, chairman of the House Republican Caucus, who said they believe it's clear Breaux isn't a citizen — asked Foti not to issue an opinion, saying it would be improper because it is an issue likely headed for court.

Foti said his staff has been generally looking at the law since the question was raised by the Louisiana Republican Party through an ad campaign ironically developed by a media consultant who has worked for Foti. The attorney general said the research was merely preliminary and his office has only begun researching the specific question. His office will consider Ellington's and Tucker's issues, as well. --

March 23, 2007

Louisiana: Breaux will run ... if he gets the AG's OK

AP reports (and reminds me of a story about former Earl Long): Former U.S. Sen. John Breaux said Friday he will run for Louisiana governor if the state attorney general determines he meets the legal requirements to enter the race.

Breaux told The Associated Press he'll give up his lobbying job in Washington, D.C., and begin campaigning if the ruling is in his favor. He said he's aware that he would face tough attacks from Republicans but wants to be governor so he can help Louisiana recover from the 2005 hurricanes. -- NOLA.com: NewsFlash - Breaux: I'll run for governor if AG opinion says it's legal

As soon as I read that first paragraph, I was reminded of one of Earl Long's campaigns. Earl had been committed to the Southeastern Louisiana State Hospital on grounds of mental instability during his last term as governor. While later running for a seat in Congress, Earl is reputed to have said, "I am the only candidate in this race who has a certificate that he is sane." (As a friend used to say, "If it ain't true, it ought to be.")

March 21, 2007

Louisiana: Blanco will not run, Breaux may, but residency challenged

The Washington Post reports: Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) announced last night that she will not seek a second term this November, bowing to a political reality created by her handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. ...

Attention immediately turned to former senator John Breaux (La.) who is seen as Democrats' strongest potential candidate against Rep. Bobby Jindal, the likely Republican nominee. ...

Charlie Cook, a national political analyst and native son of Louisiana, said it is a "close call" on whether Breaux runs, but he added that recent ads sponsored by the state Republican Party seeking to raise questions about Breaux's residency and eligibility for the office may backfire. The commercials "infuriated" Breaux, according to Cook, and "nudged him toward getting in." -- Louisiana Governor Announces She Won't Seek Reelection - washingtonpost.com

March 20, 2007

Louisiana: will/can Breaux run?

Kos writes on DailyDos: A ticker at the top of the WWL-TV website says:

Governor Kathleen Blanco has requested television time tonight for a gubernatorial address that will be carried live on Eyewitness News at 6 p.m.. Sources tell Eyewitness News that Blanco will announce she is not seeking re-election.

Coupled with the sort-of launch of John Breaux's website (just harvesting emails right now), it's clear that Breaux is 1) running, and 2) has muscled Blanco out of the race.

Republicans are already attacking Breaux on his residency issues. That might suggest, among other things, that the state GOP isn't confident they can legally keep Breaux off the ballot. -- LA-Gov: Blanco is out? Breaux is in?

Kos has links to the Breaux website and the GOP ad attacking Breaux (on YouTube).

Alabama: judge dismisses suit over senators' campaign reports

AP reports: A Montgomery judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the election of four powerful Democrats in the Alabama Senate.

Circuit Judge Charles Price ruled he lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit filed against election officials by former Republican appeals court judge Mark Montiel.

Montiel's suit asked the judge to revoke the state certificates of election for the four senators on grounds they did not file the proper campaign finance reports with the Secretary of State for the Democratic primary last June.

In an order received by the attorneys during the weekend, Price sided with arguments raised by attorneys for the Democratic party and attorney general's staff that the four senators are already in office and only the state Senate has jurisdiction over their service. -- Judge dismisses election suit over four Alabama senators | TimesDaily.com | Times Daily | Florence, AL

March 14, 2007

Louisiana: Jindal says Breaux is not eligible to run

The Advocate reports: U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal said Tuesday that former U.S. Sen. John Breaux is not eligible to run against him for governor.

Breaux cannot even cast a ballot in the Oct. 20 race because he is registered to vote in Maryland, Jindal said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.

“It doesn’t seem to me that he’d be eligible,” Jindal, R-Kenner, said.

Breaux, a Democrat who is said to be nearing a decision on whether to run, declined to comment. -- 2theadvocate.com | Politics | Jindal says Breaux can’t run

Thanks to Taegan Goddard's Political Wire for the link.

March 13, 2007

New York City: council member to introduce residency requirement

The New York Sun reports: A City Council member from Queens, Tony Avella, is planning to introduce a bill requiring future council candidates to live in the district they are seeking to represent for at least one year prior to Election Day. He said the legislation is designed to prevent a repeat of the special election blunder in Brooklyn's District 40.

"Living in the district gives you a credible stake in what happens in that neighborhood, as well as knowing what the issues are," Mr. Avella said yesterday. "I truly believe that should be a requirement, and I don't think one year of residency is asking too much."

On Friday, Mayor Bloomberg called for a second special election in the central Brooklyn district after the winner of the first, Mathieu Eugene, refused to cooperate with a council investigation to determine if he was living in the district on Election Day, a requirement to hold office.

The first special election, held February 20, cost $380,470, and the second, scheduled for April 24, is expected to cost the same. Dr. Eugene said last week he is planning to run again. -- Council Candidates Could Face Yearlong Residency Minimum - March 13, 2007 - The New York Sun

February 21, 2007

New York: (highest) Supreme Court to hear challenge to selection of justices for (lower) Supreme Court

The New York Times reports: The United States Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to review New York’s method of selecting candidates to its own Supreme Courts — the 324 judges who have general trial jurisdiction throughout the state and whose nomination to 14-year terms is tightly controlled by a political process that two lower federal courts declared unconstitutional last year.

The lower court rulings, which were stayed until after the 2006 election cycle, have created turmoil in the state’s judicial politics and spurred calls for fundamental change in a system that dates to 1921. The political parties control the nominating conventions, and candidates who are not favored by the parties’ leaders have no chance of getting on the ballot. The actual elections are for the most part uncontested.

From 1994 to 2002, these nominating conventions in the state’s 12 judicial departments chose 568 State Supreme Court candidates, none of whom were challengers to the party favorites. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in a ruling last August affirming a decision issued five months earlier by Judge John Gleeson of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, ruled that the system was so exclusionary as to violate the First Amendment right of the state’s voters to freedom of political association.

“The First Amendment guarantees voters and candidates a realistic opportunity to participate in the nominating phase free from severe and unnecessary burdens,” Judge Chester J. Straub wrote for a three-judge panel of the appeals court. He added that the United States Supreme Court’s election-law precedents “establish that the First Amendment prohibits a state from maintaining an electoral scheme that in practice excludes candidates, and thus voters, from participating in the electoral process.” -- Supreme Court Will Review the Way New York Selects Judicial Candidates - New York Times

January 23, 2007

Connecticut: Secretary of State proposes earlier petition deadline

The Stamford Advocate reports: The secretary of the state is proposing a change that would force candidates to petition their way onto the November ballot weeks before a party primary.

The move would allow voters to know upfront that candidates who lose a primary collected enough signatures to be on the ballot on Election Day.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said she is making the proposal after U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman collected signatures and formed his own party last summer after it looked likely he could lose the Democratic primary to Greenwich cable entrepreneur Ned Lamont. In the fall election, Lieberman ran as petition candidate and won. ...

Bysiewicz's proposal does not go as far as the "sore-loser" laws, found in more than 40 states, that force candidates to make a choice - either run in a primary or petition their way onto the ballot. ...

Edward Still, an Alabama elections attorney who maintains a Web site and blog called Votelaw, said that if Bysiewicz's new deadline passes, party leaders could establish their own rules preventing primary candidates from running simultaneously as petition candidates.

"That would prevent anybody from having two different choices (and) actually give the change in law some teeth," Still said. -- courant.com | Ballot Controls Proposed For Candidates

January 8, 2007

Alabama: DOJ objects to 2 court decisions

The Justice Department today objected (under the Voting Rights Act) to 2 decisions of the Alabama Supreme Court. What follows is probably more than you want to know about the background:

Since 1985, the state law applicable to filling vacancies on the Mobile County Commission has swung between gubernatorial appointment and special election.

In 1985, the Alabama Legislature adopted Act 85-237, a local act providing for the election of county commissioners whenever vacancies occurred on the Mobile County Commission. The Alabama Attorney General submitted Act 85-237 for preclearance on 15 April 1985. The U.S. Attorney General issued a “no objection” letter regarding Act 85-237 on 17 June 1985. At this point, Alabama law authorized a special election, and that was the only way to fill a vacancy consistent with the Voting Rights Act.

In the Spring of 1987, a vacancy occurred in the District 1 Commissioner position on the Mobile County Commission. Act 85-237 required a special election if more than one year remained in the term. Since there was more than one year remaining in the term, the election officials of Mobile County called a special election.

Sam Jones and another candidate qualified for the Democratic nomination, and Jones was nominated by the Democratic Party in a special primary. Jones also won the special general election over opposition.

Shortly after the vacancy occurred, a Mobile County voter filed suit to have Act 85-237 declared unconstitutional. The Circuit Court ruled in favor of the constitutionality of the law. On appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court, the Court held that the subject matter of Act 85-237 was subsumed by general law (Ala. Code § 11-3-6) and was therefore invalid under Ala. Const. Art. IV § 105. Stokes v. Noonan, 534 So.2d 237 (Ala. 1988).

Under Hathorn v. Lovorn, 457 U.S. 255 (1982), the State of Alabama or Mobile County should have submitted the Stokes v. Noonan decision for preclearance. Until such preclearance was obtained, neither Mobile County nor the State could legally enforce or administer the change made by Stokes v. Noonan. The State has stipulated that no such submission has occurred (prior to this one).

Gov. Guy Hunt gave Sam Jones a commission of appointment after the Stokes decision. Because the State never obtained preclearance for the Stokes decision before Gov. Hunt administered it by appointing Jones, Gov. Hunt’s action was unnecessary and illegal because Jones’s elected term on the Mobile County Commission had not been terminated.

In 2004, the Legislature adopted Act 2004-455 which amended Ala. Code § 11-3-6 to allow local laws providing methods other than gubernatorial appointment for filling vacancies. The Alabama Attorney General submitted Act 2004-455 for preclearance on 9 August 2004. The Attorney General of the U.S. issued a “no objection” letter regarding Act 2004-455 on 28 September 2004.

The submission of Act 2004-455 mentioned Stokes v. Noonan, but did not state explicitly whether the new Act would have any effect on the previously-precleared Act 85-237.

When Mobile County Commissioner Sam Jones was elected Mayor of the City of Mobile and made plans to resign from his position on the Commission, Reps. Kennedy, Buskey, and Clark filed suit in Montgomery County Circuit Court for relief including a declaration that the vacancy should be filled by special election. The plaintiffs took the position that Act 2004-455 had revived Act 85-237. Eventually, the Alabama Supreme Court decided that Act 2004-455 had a prospective effect only; that is, only local acts passed after the effective date of Act 2004-455 could take advantage of the proviso enacted by that Act.

The benchmark against which to judge the Riley v. Kennedy decision is the situation “in force and effect” immediately before it was decided. Abrams v. Johnson, 521 U.S. 74, 97 (1997); Section 5 Guidelines, 28 C.F.R. § 51.54(b)(1). The benchmark situation was the special-election requirement of Act 85-237 which had been precleared and administered in 1985-87 and reaffirmed by Act 2004-455 (which in turn had been precleared in 2004 and administered in other counties in 2004).

In summary, each time the Legislature has acted to provide for special elections to fill vacancies, the Alabama Attorney General has submitted the act and obtained preclearance. In contrast, the Alabama Attorney General has now belatedly submitted the Alabama Supreme Court decisions for preclearance – only after being ordered to do so by the District Court.

Disclosure: I am one of the attorneys for Reps. Kennedy, Buskey, and Clark.

November 27, 2006

Louisiana: residency suit against McCrery moved to federal court

The Shreveport Times reports: A lawsuit challenging U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery's residency should be heard, not in state court, but in U.S. District Court, a Caddo District judge said Monday.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday by Patti Cox, one of three candidates who lost to McCrery in the Nov. 7 election. McCrery won re-election with 57 percent of the vote.

Judge Jeanette Garrett ruled a federal court should determine the matter because McCrery won a federal election.

"This court is divested of jurisdiction of this case," Garrett said Monday morning, minutes after McCrery originally had been set to appear in her court for the suit. -- The Shreveport Times

KTBS 3 reports: U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery of Shreveport Wednesday asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging his residency here, maintaining he is a legal resident of his district and saying Congress -- not the courts -- decides the qualifications for office. ...

McCrery, who sold his house and moved his family to Washington, D.C., in 2004, said residency is not an issue for a judge to decide. -- McCrery moves to dismiss residency challenge

Thanks to Matt Bailey for the tip.

November 20, 2006

Georgia: Chatham county considers complete ban on office-seeking by county employees

The Savannah Morning News reports: Chatham County commissioners had a vexing question to answer Friday: Should county employees be able to run for office, even if it is a non-partisan position they are seeking?

Thunderbolt Mayor Anna Marie Thomas and Garden City Council Member Misty Bethune - who also are county employees - hoped commissioners would answer that query.

Both left hopeful, having voiced their opposition to the idea, but without resolution.

Instead, the commission voted unanimously to table a proposal that seeks to amend the county's personnel ordinance and procedures manual to prohibit employees from seeking any political office. -- County postpones decision on employee policy proposal | SavannahNow.com

Alabama: new chief justice calls for non-partisan elections

AP reports: Sue Bell Cobb, elected Alabama’s first female chief justice after what was likely the second most expensive judicial race in American history, is determined to change more about Alabama’s courts than the gender of the top judge.

Cobb said she hopes to use her six-year term to institute nonpartisan elections for judges in Alabama. ...

Through late October, Cobb had reported raising $2.4 million and Nabers had pulled in $4 million, including his primary race. Republican Justice Tom Parker reported $311,399 in contributions in his losing primary race against Nabers.

Cobb, Nabers and Parker won’t have to report their final totals until January, but the Justice at Stake Campaign, a nonpartisan group that tracks spending in judicial races, said the race appears to be the most expensive court race in America in 2006 and the second most expensive in the nation’s history.

The record of $9.3 million was set in an Illinois contest in 2004, spokesman Jesse Rutledge said.

Cobbs call the cost of the Alabama campaign “indecent.” -- Chief justice-elect urges nonpartisan elections in state

November 4, 2006

Colorado: amendment, if adopted, will impose term limits on appellate judges

The Rocky Mountain News reports: If voters approve a constitutional amendment to limit state appellate court judges to 10 years of service, the makeup of the state Supreme Court would change dramatically in January 2009.

Five of the seven justices currently on the bench would be replaced by nominees selected by the next governor. Seven of the 19 members of the appellate court also would be replaced.

All 12 of the judges who would be replaced were appointees of former Gov. Roy Romer, a Democrat.

Former state Senate President John Andrews, the lead advocate of the measure known as Amendment 40, said limiting judges to 10 years and making them stand for retention more often would hold the judicial branch more accountable. Colorado already has term limits for the legislature and governor's office. ...

But John Moye, former president of the Colorado Bar Association and one of the chairmen of Vote No 40, said removing so many judges at once would create a backlog of cases and allow the next governor to "stack the courts" with members of his political party. -- Rocky Mountain News: Elections

The proposed amendment is only page 32 of the PDF version of the Blue Book.

November 2, 2006

Alabama: suit seeking disqualification of 4 senators to be moved to Montgomery

AP reports: A lawsuit seeking to remove four powerful Democratic senators from the general election ballot must be moved from Autauga County to Montgomery County, a Republican judge ruled Wednesday.

Autauga County Circuit Judge Ben Fuller said the suit must be heard in the capital because it is the location of the secretary of state, Alabama's chief election official and the main defendant in the suit.

The move may make it difficult for the suit to be heard before the election Nov. 7, but the issues could still be argued after the election, attorneys said. ...

The suit argues that the four senators should be removed from the ballot for not filing campaign finance reports during the primary election in June, when they had no opposition. -- Judge orders venue move of lawsuit to oust senators

October 31, 2006

Alabama: judge will decide Wednesday about moving suit seeking ouster of 4 Democratic candidates

AP reports: A judge said he will rule Wednesday on whether a Republican attorney can go forward with a lawsuit that seeks to remove four powerful Democratic state senators from the Nov. 7 ballot.

Autauga County Circuit Judge Ben Fuller heard nearly two hours of arguments on the case Tuesday night and told attorneys he would rule by Wednesday afternoon on whether the case was properly filed in Autauga County or must be moved to the seat of state government in Montgomery, as the Democratic Party contends.

The suit, written by former Republican attorney general candidate Mark Montiel, was filed on Friday, Oct. 13 and the judge heard the arguments on Halloween night. ...

Montiel argues that they should be removed for not filing the proper campaign finance reports in the Democratic primary in June. ...

The four senators did not file campaign finance reports in the primary showing their contributions because they had no opposition and that had been the practice in the state. But Attorney General Troy King recently issued an advisory opinion saying the reports should be filed in the future. -- Judge to rule Wednesday in suit to disqualify state senators - Tuscaloosa

Texas: Bush says "bring a pencil" -- but most use electronic voting machines

The Houston Chronicle reports: President Bush, his collar open and his sleeves rolled up, told thousands of cheering Republicans in Sugar Land on Monday to "bring your pencil" to the polls and write in the name of Shelley Sekula-Gibbs to succeed Tom DeLay in the U.S. House. ...

Most voters won't really need a pencil to cast write-in votes because they'll use electronic voting machines. If they write in the councilwoman's name, they'll turn a dial selecting the 18-letter name a character at a time. ...

Sekula-Gibbs is the party-backed write-in candidate to succeed DeLay, R-Sugar Land, who resigned from Congress after winning the Republican nomination for a 12th term. -- Bush tells voters to pencil in candidate

October 30, 2006

Texas: Sekula-Gibbs faces problems in write-in effort

Kos has polling results for TX-22, showing that a large number of voters don't even know about the write-in campaign. He concludes: There are two differences in the poll methodology and real life --

1) going into the booth, no one will be listing Sekula-Gibbs as a write-in option. Voters will have to remember the name; and

2) the ballot WILL list Sekula-Gibbs -- as an option in a same-ballot special election to fill the remainder of Tom DeLay's term. People might think voting for her in that special election is enough and forget to write in her name in the general election portion of the ballot. -- Daily Kos: State of the Nation

October 29, 2006

30% of state legislative candidates running unopposed

AP reports: At a time when the Democrats and Republicans appear so evenly divided that control of many state legislatures hangs in the balance, this Election Day should be a long night of high anxiety.

But the truth is many candidates can turn in early.

Nationwide, more than 30 percent of the roughly 6,100 legislative seats on the ballot already have been decided because the candidates are running unopposed, according to an Associated Press analysis. ...

Forty-seven states in all have legislative contests this fall. In 11 states, more than half of the races for state House and Senate are uncontested. -- Thirty percent of state candidates running unopposed - CNN.com

October 28, 2006

North Carolina: Blue replaces deceased Allen on the ballot

AP reports: In a decision that could shake up the race for speaker in 2007, Wake County Democrats have chosen former Speaker Dan Blue to replace the late Rep. Bernard Allen at the General Assembly.

Democratic leaders in the 33rd House District unanimously chose Blue to succeed Allen, who died two weeks ago. The law requires Gov. Mike Easley to follow the wishes of the local Democrats and appoint Blue to the General Assembly.

The decision means that Blue will complete the remaining two months term and receive votes for Allen on the Nov. 7 ballot. Because Allen was unopposed next month, Blue will have the job through 2008. -- Winston-Salem Journal | Ex-speaker Blue will return to House

Maryland: challenge to Demo A.G. candidate rebuffed

The Washington Post reports: Democrat Douglas F. Gansler's bid for state attorney general is "constitutionally acceptable," a judge ruled yesterday, rejecting a lawsuit that asserted Gansler did not have the 10 years' experience in Maryland required for the post.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Ronald A. Silkworth released an opinion declaring that the Montgomery County prosecutor's 17 years as a member of the Maryland State Bar, combined with his legal work in that time, satisfies the standard set in the state constitution. ...

Gansler's Republican opponent, Frederick County State's Attorney Scott L. Rolle, said that he had nothing to do with the suit but that it had been worth pursuing. "It was a constitutional question that needed to be resolved," Rolle said yesterday evening. "If it's been decided in his favor -- no harm, no foul."

The suit was brought by a registered voter, Nikos Liddy of Bowie, who was represented by Rolle's campaign manager, Jason Shoemaker. -- Challenge To Gansler Candidacy Rejected - washingtonpost.com

October 26, 2006

California: judge denies immediate relief in suit against Jerry Brown's candidacy

The San Francisco Chronicle reports: A Sacramento judge denied a request by Republicans for a preliminary injunction that would have removed Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown's name from the ballot as an attorney general candidate.

Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang postponed ruling on the merits of a Republican lawsuit challenging Brown on his eligibility to serve as attorney general. The ruling was postponed to sometime after the Nov. 7 election.

The lawsuit claims Brown should not be on the ballot because he was an "inactive" member of State Bar of California from 1997 until 2003.

Chang did not say when in November she would begin court proceedings on the lawsuit, but indicated in a meeting with lawyers that no proceeding would occur until 16 days after Brown has been served. -- SACRAMENTO / Judge rebuffs GOP ballot challenge

Alabama: Republicans file suit to remove 4 Democratic senators from the ballot

AP reports: A judge has scheduled a hearing Oct. 31 for a Republican-backed lawsuit that seeks to disqualify four powerful Democratic state senators who are seeking re-election.

The suit, filed by former Republican attorney general candidate Mark Montiel, seeks to remove from the Nov. 7 ballot Senate President Pro Tem Lowell Barron of Fyffe, Senate Majority Leader Zeb Little of Cullman and Senate budget committee chairmen Hank Sanders of Selma and Roger Bedford of Russellville.

Autauga County Circuit Judge Ben Fuller has scheduled the hearing for Halloween. ...

Montiel argues that the four senators should be removed for not filing the proper campaign finance reports with the secretary of state in the Democratic primary. The four senators said they followed a long-standing state practice of not filing a detailed campaign finance report when a candidate has no primary opposition. -- Hearing set on suit seeking to disqualify Alabama senators - Tuscaloosa

October 23, 2006

Ohio: appeals court stops hearing on Strickland's residency

AP reports: A state appeals court on Monday ordered the Columbiana County Board of Elections to cancel its planned Tuesday hearing on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland's right to vote based on a challenge to his residency.

Strickland on Friday filed a lawsuit with the 7th Ohio District Court of Appeals in Youngstown, naming his Republican opponent Ken Blackwell in his role as secretary of state. Blackwell's office had ordered the county board of elections to hold the hearing.

The lawsuit, which also names the board, sought to block the hearing, saying it was ordered 13 days after the challenge to Strickland's residency was filed - beyond a 10-day window in which the state was required to act.

In it's ruling, the appeals court gave Blackwell and others named in the lawsuit until Thursday to challenge the decision. -- AP Wire | 10/23/2006 | Court won't allow hearing on Strickland's residency

October 19, 2006

Ohio: county board to hold hearing on Democratic candidate's residency and right to vote

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports [regarding the Democratic candidate for governor]: A Lisbon apartment rented by Democrat Ted Strickland above his district office will be the focus of a Columbiana County hearing on a complaint challenging his voting residency.

The complaint seeking to boot Strickland from the voting rolls might endanger his right to vote in November, but is unlikely to disqualify him for the ballot, according to Ohio election law experts.

A letter sent Tuesday by Monty Lobb, assistant secretary of state, instructed the Columbiana County Board of Elections to hold a hearing on an East Liverpool woman's challenge to Strickland, who lists a Lisbon voting address while owning a Columbus condo where he's paid taxes since 2003. ...

After the county elections board deadlocked, 2-2, along party lines on whether to throw out the complaint filed by Jacquelyn Long, Lobb ruled in favor of a hearing.

The ruling by Lobb, whose boss, Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, is running against Strickland for governor, brought howls of indignation from Team Strickland. -- Hearing to address Strickland's residency

October 13, 2006

Florida: Dems sue to block signs in polling booth about Foley-Negron switch

The Palm Beach Post reports: The Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit today in hopes of keeping notices out of polling places that would inform voters that ballots cast for former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley will count for fellow Republican Joe Negron.

The eight-county elections supervisors who will record the outcome in the 16th Congressional District agreed this week to print a notice that would be posted at registration tables and handed to voters who had questions about the race.

Foley resigned Sept. 29 - too late to print new ballots - and was replaced as the Republican candidate by Negron, a state lawmaker from Stuart. Negron will receive any votes cast for Foley, according to state law.

When Negron was picked as Foley's replacement, Florida Division of Elections Director Dawn Roberts asked the supervisors to mail a notice about the change with absentee ballots and to post the notice inside individual voting booths.

Supervisors decided against her recommendation, but agreed this week to make a notice available in case of voter confusion. -- Democrats sue to stop Negron ballot signs

October 3, 2006

Oregon: suit filed against ballot-access law

AP reports: A Salem-based group has filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Oregon, claiming that voters have been constrained by a 2005 law that makes it tougher for independent candidates to qualify for the ballot.

The lawsuit was filed by the Committee for Petition Rights, headed by Greg Wasson. It has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Thomas Coffin in Eugene, but no hearing has been set.

The law prohibits anyone who votes in a partisan primary election from helping to nominate an independent candidate. Before the law was enacted, any registered voter could sign a nominating petition for an independent candidate, or attend a nominating convention. ...

The first candidate to be affected by the law was state Sen. Ben Westlund, I-Tumalo, who said the new rules made it tougher to get the signatures he needed for his campaign for governor. He abandoned the campaign in August. -- OregonLive.com: NewsFlash - Lawsuit filed over Oregon law that impedes independent candidates

October 1, 2006

Michigan: county commission candidate withdraws because of Hatch Act

The Daily Telegram reports: A Lenawee County Commission candidate called off her election campaign after learning of a legal conflict with her state government employment. But it is too late to take Allison MacArthur-Ruesink’s name off the ballot in the 9th commission district.

The Adrian Township resident said she was told last week by her supervisor at the Department of Environmental Quality that her position as an environmental quality analyst is funded with federal money, making her ineligible to run for partisan office.

The issue was not raised when she told her supervisor about her political plans before filing as a candidate on May 12. She was told last week that DEQ accounting staff verified she is in a federally funded position and was asked to voluntarily withdraw to avoid any federal sanctions under the Hatch Act. -- Candidate halts election campaign

September 29, 2006

Florida: Rep. Foley resigns and drops re-election bid

AP reports: Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., resigned from Congress on Friday, effective immediately, in the wake of questions about e-mails he wrote a former teenage male page. ...

Foley, 52, had been a shoo-in for a new term until the e-mail correspondence surfaced in recent days.

His resignation comes less than six weeks before the elections and further complicates the political landscape for Republicans, who are fighting to retain control of Congress. Democrats need to win a net of 15 Republican seats to regain the power they lost in 1994.

Florida Republicans planned to meet as soon as Monday to name a replacement in Foley's district, which President Bush won with 55 percent in 2004 and is now in play for November. Though Florida ballots have already been printed with Foley's name and cannot be changed, any votes for Foley will count toward the party's choice. -- Foley resigns from Congress over e-mails - Yahoo! News

Update: DailyKos has the text of the statute:

"In the event that death, resignation, withdrawal, removal, or any other cause or event should cause a party to have a vacancy in nomination which leaves no candidate for an office from such party, the Department of State shall notify the chair of the appropriate state, district, or county political party executive committee of such party; and, within 5 days, the chair shall call a meeting of his or her executive committee to consider designation of a nominee to fill the vacancy.

The name of any person so designated shall be submitted to the Department of State within 7 days after notice to the chair in order that the person designated may have his or her name on the ballot of the ensuing general election. If the name of the new nominee is submitted after the certification of results of the preceding primary election, however, the ballots shall not be changed and the former party nominee's name will appear on the ballot.

Any ballots cast for the former party nominee will be counted for the person designated by the political party to replace the former party nominee. If there is no opposition to the party nominee, the person designated by the political party to replace the former party nominee will be elected to office at the general election. For purposes of this paragraph, the term "district political party executive committee" means the members of the state executive committee of a political party from hose counties comprising the area involving a district office."

September 28, 2006

Mississippi: candidate sues over new qualifying deadline

AP reports: A candidate in a special legislative election has filed a petition in Hinds County Circuit Court trying to block a state Election Commission decision that reopened the qualifying deadline in his contest and four others around the state.

Jim Arnold of Kosciusko, a candidate for the state Senate District 14 seat, filed the petition Wednesday.

The seat is open because of the death of Sen. Robert “Bunky” Huggins, R-Greenwood. One other Senate seat and two House seats also will be filled Nov. 7.

Originally, candidates’ qualifying deadline for the four special legislative elections was Sept. 8. But, the state Election Commission voted 2-1 last week to extend the deadline to Oct. 24.

Attorney General Jim Hood and Gov. Haley Barbour voted for the extension. Secretary of State Eric Clark voted against it.

Hood cited a state law that calls for the qualifying deadline in a special election to be “not less than 10 days” from the election. Clark said this meant a deadline could be more than 10 days, but Hood said it meant exactly 10 days.

In his petition for an injunction, Arnold — an attorney — says the extension is illegal and is designed to disenfranchise voters. The petition represents only one side of a legal argument, and it was not immediately clear when a judge would rule on it. -- Candidate seeks to stop new filing deadline in legislative races - The Clarion-Ledger

September 27, 2006

Maryland: state senator switches parties despite "sore loser" law

The Washington Post reports: Two weeks after a stinging Democratic primary defeat, Maryland state Sen. John A. Giannetti Jr. announced last night that he had switched parties and would seek reelection as a Republican. ...

Giannetti's challenger, James C. Rosapepe, won about 59 percent of the vote in the Sept. 12 primary. ...

"Evidently, [Giannetti] found a loophole in the state sore-loser law,'' Rosapepe said, referring to a Maryland law that generally bars candidates who lose a primary from running again in the general election.

GOP officials said the law makes an exception when a party's nominee withdraws after the primary. John Stafford, the winner of the Republican primary in the district, stepped aside this week. -- Giannetti Switches To GOP After Loss - washingtonpost.com

September 25, 2006

Alabama: GOP will not challenge Democratic candidate over non-vacancy issue

The Tuscaloosa News reports: State Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, said he isn’t going to challenge the candidacy of Democratic opponent Ann Skelton and neither will the state Republican Party. “If Gerald’s not, we’re not," said GOP Chairwoman Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh.

The Democratic Executive Committee nominated Skelton, who also lives in Cottondale, to run against Allen after Allen’s original opponent withdrew because he lived just outside state House District 62 and wasn’t legally qualified to run.

Allen and Cavanaugh had considered a challenge to Skelton’s nomination because they believed the Democratic Party couldn’t nominate a new candidate when there wasn’t a legal vacancy. Allen said a challenge would take too much money that could be used elsewhere. Besides, he said, a legal challenge might last beyond the Nov. 7 primary. Democrats disagreed that a replacement nominee couldn’t be chosen. -- DANA BEYERLE: Organizations shell out political endorsements - Tuscaloosa

September 19, 2006

Illinois: 7th Circuit strikes down ballot access law restricting independent candidates

The Chicago Tribune reports: In a decision that could increase the number of candidates who seek state office, a federal appeals court in Chicago ruled Monday that state election law unconstitutionally restricts independent candidates and must be changed.

Taking up the case of a Heyworth man who sued the Illinois State Board of Elections in 2004, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the General Assembly must create "a new ballot-access scheme that will pass constitutional muster." ...

The appeals court did not suggest any new laws but ruled two key requirements that independent candidates must meet are far too restrictive and violate the Constitution.

The first, that independent candidates file for ballot access in mid-December or nearly a year before a general election, "is by far the earliest deadline in the nation," the ruling stated. ...

Illinois' second requirement forces prospective independent candidates to gather signatures totaling 10 percent of all votes cast in the previous election for the office they seek. -- U.S. court voids vote law on independents | Chicago Tribune

Comment: The case is Lee v. Keith. The decision can be viewed here.

August 31, 2006

"Some Recent and Ongoing Election Law Fights Over Ballot Access"

Rick Hasen writes on Findlaw: What do former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, former House Administration Committee Chair Bob Ney, and the Green Party of Pennsylvania have in common?

They are all featured in the latest election law skirmishes between the parties--this time over ballot access.

It is not your imagination. The pace of election law litigation has indeed picked up since 2000, when the United States Supreme Court decided Bush v. Gore. With partisan control of the United States House of Representatives (and possibly the U.S. Senate) up for grabs this election season, it is no surprise that the parties have aggressively used changes in election law, and election law litigation, as part of a political strategy to gain even a small advantage in what could be another group of elections with razor-thin margins.

The most contentious election law litigation this election season involves disputes over new onerous voter identification rules. But the runner-up is litigation raising questions of ballot access. These questions have come up in elections involving candidates withdrawing in the face of scandal, candidates who lost in their political primaries but who seek to run again in the general election, and major parties making strategic use of third party-candidates to siphon support away from their opponents. -- FindLaw's Writ - Hasen: Some Recent and Ongoing Election Law Fights Over Ballot Access New Skirmishes Could Determine the Balance of Power in Congress

Comment: Rick also picks up a meme I mentioned 3 weeks ago: "All election law is local."

August 30, 2006

Texas: Gov. Perry calls special election for DeLay's seat

The Dallas Morning News reports: Gov. Rick Perry has called a special election to fill the seat vacated by former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

The vote will coincide with November's general election, which means that preferred GOP write-in candidate Shelley Sekula-Gibbs will have her name on the ballot, if she runs in the special election as well. Candidates have until Friday to file. ...

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, called Mr. Perry's calling of the election "a tactical move" to help Dr. Sekula-Gibbs because she has a complicated name and faces long odds to win the Nov. 7 general election as a write-in candidate.

"You can see her name at the top of the ballot, and that allows [voters] to put it in better at the bottom of the ballot – you know, actually dial it in better than they would have because the spelling is there on the ballot," Mr. Coleman said. Voters in the suburban Houston district will use electronic voting machines.

Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt responded, "It is a shame that Garnet Coleman thinks that the U.S. Constitution is a tactic. The U.S. Constitution requires us to call a special election for Congressman DeLay's seat." -- Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Nation

August 26, 2006

Maryland: high court disqualifies Perez

The Washington Post reports: Maryland's highest court yesterday tossed Democratic candidate Tom Perez out of the running for attorney general, ruling that he did not meet a constitutional requirement that candidates for the job practice law in Maryland for 10 years. ...

The Perez case stems from a lawsuit filed by Montgomery school board member Stephen N. Abrams (Rockville-Potomac), who said that Perez was not eligible to run for attorney general because he had not been a member of the Maryland State Bar for 10 years.

In May, Perez received an opinion from the attorney general's office that concluded that his service as a federal prosecutor and deputy assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department appeared to meet the requirement. ...

A Circuit Court judge agreed in July, dismissing Abrams's suit. Abrams ultimately appealed the decision and personally argued the case before the Court of Appeals. -- Court Rejects Perez Bid, Early Voting Law in Md.

August 24, 2006

Pennsylvania: Green Party Senate candidate fails in ballot access case

AP reports: A state judge on Thursday dealt a new setback to the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate by upholding state officials' calculation of the number of signatures minor-party candidates need to run for statewide office.

Pennsylvania law sets the number at 2 percent of the ballots cast for the largest vote-getter in the last statewide election. This year's threshold, because it is based on state Treasurer Bob Casey's record vote count in 2004, was set at an unusually high 67,070 signatures.

President Judge James Gardner Colins of the Commonwealth Court rejected arguments by Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli that would have cut the number to fewer than 16,000.

Romanelli contended that the number should be based on last year's judicial retention elections, in which state judges run unopposed and voters cast up-or-down votes on whether they should serve additional 10-year terms. -- Pa. court rejects Green's bid to relax ballot rule (phillyBurbs.com) | Pennsylvania News

Alabama: Democratic Party committee disqualifies Todd

AP reports: A Democratic Party committee Thursday night disqualified an openly gay candidate for the Alabama Legislature and the woman she defeated in the primary runoff because both women violated a party rule that party officials said no other candidate has obeyed since 1988.

The committee voted 5-0 to disqualify Patricia Todd, who was attempting to become the state's first openly gay legislator, and Gaynell Hendricks.

Committee chairwoman Amy Burks said earlier Thursday the party's executive committee would make the final decision and select a nominee for the seat from Birmingham's House District 54 at a meeting in Montgomery Saturday.

Committee members said they would issue a formal order Friday morning. -- AP Wire | 08/24/2006 | Democratic Party committee asked to disqualify gay candidate

Disclosure: I am one of Patricia Todd's lawyers.

August 21, 2006

Texas: Mayor Wallace withdraws as write-in

AP reports: Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace withdrew Monday as a Republican write-in candidate for former House Majority leader Tom DeLay's vacant seat.

The decision leaves the Texas GOP united behind one write-in candidate, Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, whom the party endorsed last week and pledged organizational and financial support.

Wallace had indicated he would stay in the race despite the party's snub.

"What I am choosing to do at this time is unite with the Republican Party behind one candidate," Wallace told a news conference, standing next to his wife, Kathy, and two daughters. "There is no way that two write-in candidates could win. It would be very difficult and divisive to the Republican Party." -- Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Texas/Southwest

August 19, 2006

Texas: GOP endorses Sekula-Gibbs as write-in

The Houston Chronicle reports: A day after Republicans endorsed her as their candidate in the 22nd Congressional District, Houston Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs was on hand at a packed East End event Friday, sharing the limelight with political heavyweights. ...

Sekula-Gibbs may not be the lone Republican write-in candidate. Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace, who earlier said he would run as a write-in candidate even if the party endorsed someone else, is "considering his options," said Fort Bend County Republican Chairman Gary Gillen. ...

Even if Sekula-Gibbs becomes the lone write-in candidate in the 22nd District, she'll have to wage a difficult, multi-pronged campaign, said Rice University political scientist Bob Stein.

In addition to raising her own profile — taking positions on issues and depicting Lampson as non-representative of the district — she will have to raise voter awareness of the write-in process, he said.

Electronic ballots are used in most of the district, which includes parts of Harris, Fort Bend, Brazoria and Galveston counties.

Voting booths will display the names of write-in candidates who register before Aug. 28 and are certified by the Texas secretary of state. Voters will have to navigate to the write-in option on the electronic ballot, call up a keyboard display and spin a dial to spell out a candidates' name a letter at a time. -- Sekula-Gibbs faces big hurdles in House bid

August 16, 2006

Connecticut: Lieberman really, really running as an Independent

The New York Times reports: Just one week ago, national Democrats united to try to nudge Senator Joseph I. Lieberman out of his race for re-election after his defeat at the hands of his antiwar rival, Ned Lamont, in the Connecticut Democratic primary.

But today Mr. Lieberman appears to be in the race to stay, running as a retooled independent candidate who is taking on both political parties, and Connecticut is already seeing a full-throated re-enactment of the men’s blistering primary battle.

Far from sulking in defeat, Senator Lieberman has fired most of his senior aides, energized his broad base of donors from his campaigns for president and vice president, produced a new television advertisement explaining his political intentions, and attacked Mr. Lamont over the London terror plot.

The senator appears so emboldened that in spite of the Democratic unity around Mr. Lamont, some Washington Democrats are now acknowledging that a Lieberman victory in November is a distinct possibility. According to guests at a fund-raiser for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Hamptons on Saturday, Mrs. Clinton — who is supporting Mr. Lamont — said that Mr. Lieberman had more than a 50-50 chance of winning re-election. (Clinton aides said they could not confirm or deny the remark; one of the aides said that if Mrs. Clinton had discussed the race, she might have been referring to a new poll that had Mr. Lieberman slightly ahead.) -- New Lieberman Retooling Race as Independent - New York Times

Texas: write-in free-for-all shaping up

The New York Times reports: With dwindling hopes of keeping Tom DeLay's longtime House seat from falling to a Democrat in November, Texas Republicans on Tuesday called an urgent meeting for Thursday to exercise their only option: agreeing on a write-in candidate.

But that slender prospect — no such write-in campaign has succeeded in the state — seemed to suffer a blow when a leading candidate facing party opposition disparaged the meeting, saying “that may have worked in Moscow,” and vowed to keep running even if it meant two Republican write-in candidates. ...

The bleak prospects for Republicans in the 22nd District has prompted some to consider an alliance with the Libertarian candidate, Bob Smither, an electrical engineer, who does have a place on the ballot. “I’m not convinced a write-in will succeed,” said Jerry Patterson, commissioner of the Texas General Land Office and a Republican running for re-election. At least Mr. Smither, he said, would vote with the House Republican leadership, “denying Nancy Pelosi a vote for speaker.” -- DeLay's Seat Up for Grabs, Texas Republicans Will Meet to Weigh Write-Ins - New York Times

August 11, 2006

Ohio: AG rules Padgett not barred by 'sore loser' law

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports: Ohio Sen. Joy Padgett's unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor earlier this year does not prevent her from running in a special election for the GOP congressional ballot slot vacated by Bob Ney, according to an opinion issued Thursday afternoon by her former running mate, Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro.

Petro's opinion also says it would be legal for party officials to appoint Padgett to the slot instead of holding a special election. Padgett ran for statewide office on the unsuccessful gubernatorial ticket headed by Petro.

Democrats say they don't believe Padgett is eligible to run, and they will challenge the decision in court.

"The Republican corrupt machinery has once again narrowly interpreted the law in their favor," said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Brian Rothenberg.

Rothenberg said Padgett should be disqualified by both a "sore loser" statute designed to keep failed primary candidates from gaining slots on the November ballot, and a provision the Ohio legislature adopted to prevent Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland, a congressman from Lisbon, from seeking re-election to his congressional seat if he lost the gubernatorial primary. -- Padgett eligible to seek Ney ballot slot, Petro says

Connecticut: Lieberman's petitions still have to be checked

The Advocate reports: U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman is acting like he is a candidate in November's general election, but it won't be known for several days whether his petition drive to gain a spot on the ballot is successful.

The morning after his primary defeat to Ned Lamont, Lieberman's campaign delivered two boxes full of petitions to Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, signaling he would continue the battle for his Senate seat as an "independent Democrat." ...

Shirley Surgeon, Hartford's Democratic registrar of voters, said she is verifying 59 pages of signatures delivered to that city's town clerk last week.

Although each petition contains room for 30 signatures, Surgeon said the majority of those she received contain about half that, and several have been disqualified.

"Out of 15 on this first page, nine were good," Surgeon said.

In Norwalk, Town Clerk Andrew Garfunkel said he received one petition page Wednesday.

Norwalk Democratic Registrar Betty Bondi said if the rest of Lieberman's petitions are as "sloppy" as that one piece of paper, his chances to make it onto the ballot do not look good.

"There were less than 10 names and only two good signatures," Bondi said. -- The Advocate - State still checking petitions: Lieberman bid needs 7,500 good signatures

August 9, 2006

Pennsylvania: Dems challenge 3 Greens for bogus names on petitions

AP reports: The Pennsylvania Democratic Party objected Tuesday to signatures collected by three Green Party candidates, including a challenger in one of the nation's most hotly contested U.S. Senate races.

The Democrats asked a court to remove the candidates from the November ballot. The candidates have said they jointly collected at least 90,000 valid signatures — far more than the 67,070 needed to qualify for the ballot.

But the Democrats alleged in a Commonwealth Court filing that more than 69,000 included fake names, names of unregistered voters and illegible signatures. -- Pa. Dems target Green Party candidates - Yahoo! News

Ohio: is Padgett barred by the sore-loser law or not?

AP reports: The leading Republican candidate to replace Rep. Bob Ney on the November ballot may be ineligible, party officials said Tuesday, complicating GOP efforts to assure a smooth transition for the fall campaign.

"As far as I know, I have a green light," state Sen. Joy Padgett said as party lawyers reviewed an Ohio law that barred politicians who lose one primary from entering another one during the same year. ...

One Republican strategist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said lawyers had concluded that the so-called political sore loser's law probably would bar Padgett from running.

State GOP Chairman Bob Bennett said that he didn't believe the law applied to her, and that he would seek a formal ruling from the secretary of state.

One official said the legal controversy arose in part because the law as drafted differed from what lawmakers had said they intended — which was to prevent a primary loser from later filing as a candidate in the same race. -- Candidate for Rep Ney's Seat May Be Ineligible - Los Angeles Times

Paul Kiel writes on TPMmuckraker.com: Democrats in Ohio might challenge the candidacy of Rep. Bob Ney's (R-OH) chosen successor based on at least two different statutes, a spokesman for the Ohio Democrats told me today.

Republicans are still determining whether state Sen. Joy Padgett might be disqualified from running based on what's called the "sore loser" statute in Ohio law. The law prevents a candidate from running in a general election after losing a primary. Padgett ran for lieutenant governor earlier this year.

But there's yet another statute that might prevent Padgett from running. A year-old statute prevents Ohioans from running for both state and federal office in the same year. "Ironically," the Columbus Dispatch notes, "Republicans slipped that restriction into the state budget bill last year — apparently to prevent Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland from running both for re-election and governor this year." -- Ney Successor on Course for Legal Showdown

Texas: David Wallace announces write-in campaign

AP reports: The mayor of former Majority Leader Tom DeLay's Texas hometown said Wednesday he will run as a write-in candidate for DeLay's congressional seat.

DeLay announced Tuesday he was withdrawing from the race after the Supreme Court rejected attempts by the Texas Republican party to replace him on the November ballot.

David Wallace, mayor of Sugar Land, Texas, was one of the candidates under consideration by the party to replace DeLay. ...

A write-in must declare candidacy and pay a fee or submit required signatures by Aug. 29. -- Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Texas/Southwest

August 7, 2006

Texas: a write-in Republican?

Richard Winger has an idea about a write-in to replace DeLay. See his comment.

Ohio: Not so fast, Ms. Padgett

Washington Wire (the Wall Street Journal) reports: The Jack Abramoff scandal that rocked Capitol Hill last winter claimed its second electoral victim as Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Ney announced Monday he will abandon his re-election race. But as Republicans try to hold onto the seat, questions are arising over the "sore loser" provision in Ohio election law. ...

State Sen. Joy Padgett, Ney’s hand-picked successor for his seat, could fall under a little-known provision of Ohio election law, dubbed the “sore loser” provision. It prevents a candidate who loses in one primary from running in another during the same election cycle. Earlier this year, Padgett was the primary running mate of gubernatorial hopeful James Petro, who lost to the ticket of Ken Blackwell and his running mate, Ohio State Rep. Tom Raga.

Even if Padgett succeeds in getting her name on the new primary ballot, the controversy could invite other Republicans to jump into the unexpected race. James Harris, who lost to Ney in the Republican primary in May, said he’s considering running again — although the sore loser provision may apply to him, too. -- Washington Wire » As Ney Quits, "Sore Loser: Law Crops Up

Comment: The late Thomas Phillip "Tip" O'Neill, Jr., said, "All politics is local." Still's Corollary: All election law is local.

Hat tip: Taegan Goddard's Political Wire.

Texas: Scalia says no, GOP gives up and keeps DeLay

AP reports: Texas Republicans on Monday abandoned their court fight to replace former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on the November ballot after being turned back at the Supreme Court.

The decision came after Justice Antonin Scalia rejected Texas Republicans' request to block an appeals court ruling saying DeLay's name should remain on the ballot.

"I think all our legal avenues are exhausted in terms of affecting the ruling prior to the election," said Jim Bopp Jr., the attorney who argued the Republican Party's case to allow party officials to substitute another candidate for DeLay. -- Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Texas/Southwest

Update: Lyle Denniston has a summary of the stay application filed with Justice Scalia and a link to the papers. -- Scalia refuses to aid Texas GOP on ballot

Ohio: Ney to withdraw; Padgett to seek nomination

AP reports: U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, dogged by an influence peddling probe in Washington, will not seek re-election, state Sen. Joy Padgett said early today.

Ney called Padgett on Saturday and asked the fellow Republican to run in his place, saying that defending himself has been a strain on his family, she said. ...

Padgett told The Associated Press she would run for Ney's seat. -- The Columbus Dispatch - Election

The law: Here are Ohio statutes that seem to apply:

§ 3513.30. Death or withdrawal of candidate prior to primary election.
(D) Any person nominated in a primary election or by nominating petition as a candidate for election at the next general election may withdraw as such candidate at any time prior to the general election. Such withdrawal may be effected by the filing of a written statement by such candidate announcing the candidate's withdrawal and requesting that the candidate's name not be printed on the ballots. If such candidate's declaration of candidacy or nominating petition was filed with the secretary of state, the candidate's statement of withdrawal shall be addressed to and filed with the secretary of state. If such candidate's declaration of candidacy or nominating petition was filed with a board of elections, the candidate's statement of withdrawal shall be addressed to, and filed with such board.

(E) When a person withdraws under division (B) or (D) of this section, the board of elections shall remove the name of the withdrawn candidate from the ballots to the extent practicable in the time remaining before the election and according to the directions of the secretary of state. If the name is not removed from all ballots before the day of the election, the votes for the withdrawn candidate are void and shall not be counted.

===
§ 3513.31. Withdrawal of candidate nominated in primary election or by petition prior to general election; election for unexpired term.

(B) If a person nominated in a primary election as a party candidate for election at the next general election, whose candidacy is to be submitted to the electors of a district comprised of more than one county but less than all of the counties of the state, withdraws as that candidate or is disqualified as that candidate under section 3513.052 [3513.05.2] of the Revised Code, the vacancy in the party nomination so created may be filled by a district committee of the major political party that made the nomination at the primary election, if the committee's chairperson and secretary certify the name of the person selected to fill the vacancy by the time specified in this division, at a meeting called for that purpose. The district committee shall consist of the chairperson and secretary of the county central committee of such political party in each county in the district. The district committee shall be called by the chairperson of the county central committee of such political party of the most populous county in the district, who shall give each member of the district committee at least two days' notice of the time, place, and purpose of the meeting. If a majority of the members of the district committee are present at the district committee meeting, a majority of those present may select a person to fill the vacancy. The chairperson and secretary of the meeting shall certify in writing and under oath to the board of elections of the most populous county in the district, not later than four p.m. of the seventy-sixth day before the day of the general election, the name of the person selected to fill the vacancy. The certification must be accompanied by the written acceptance of the nomination by the person whose name is certified. A vacancy that may be filled by an intermediate or minor political party shall be filled in accordance with the party's rules by authorized officials of the party. Certification must be made as in the manner provided for a major political party.

August 5, 2006

Vermont: 2 Democrats fail to file consent forms, are kept off the ballot, go to court ...

The Burlington Free Press reports: Two Democratic candidates for the state House of Representatives have gone to court to try to have their names added to the Sept. 12 primary election ballot after being left off because of missing paperwork.

Rachel Weston of Burlington received a quick decision from Chittenden Superior Court Judge Ben Joseph, who said her name could be included on the ballot.

Rep. Stephen Green, D-Berlin, had a contrary ruling from Washington County Superior Court Judge Helen Toor and has appealed her denial to the Vermont Supreme Court.

In both cases, the candidates failed to turn in the consent forms that must accompany their signed petitions. On these forms candidates state the race they want to enter and the precise way they want their names printed on the ballot. They also officially give permission for their names to be on a ballot, which Kathy DeWolfe, director of the election division at the Office of the Secretary of State, said is an important protection. -- Burlington Free Press.com | Local/Vermont

August 4, 2006

California: City of Vernon loses one case on its election

The Los Angeles Times reports: The city of Vernon's attempt to stop candidates from forcing the town's first contested election in 25 years was shot down Thursday by a judge who described the city as one "run like a fiefdom."

The decision marks a defeat for officials of the small city south of downtown Los Angeles, which has spent months trying to invalidate the April election. City officials have refused to count the ballots from the vote until this and several other lawsuits are settled. ...

Vernon leaders have insisted that the candidates were ringers brought in by opponents trying to take control of the cash-rich industrial town. The challengers deny the claim and say leaders who have controlled the town for decades went to great lengths to prevent them from running for office.

It was up to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aurelio Muñoz to sort out the charges and countercharges, and neither side emerged unscathed.

Muñoz said attorneys representing the city did not present the evidence of fraud necessary to strip the eight men and women of their right to vote or run for office.

Still, Muñoz said he thought there was a "scheme" to take political power in the industrial city of only 91 residents, most of whom are city employees living in heavily subsidized city housing. But the judge said moving into a city with the intent of taking over political power is not necessarily illegal. -- Attempt to Nullify Vernon Election Defeated - Los Angeles Times

August 3, 2006

Texas: GOP to seek Supreme Court review of DeLay decision

Lyle Denniston writes on SCOTUSblog: The head of the Texas Republican Party, seeking to clear a space on the November election ballot for a new GOP candidate for the House of Representatives, announced plans Thursday to file an appeal to the Supreme Court on an expedited basis, after the Fifth Circuit Court kept former Rep. Tom DeLay on the ballot. The plan means that the state GOP will bypass any chance for en banc review in the Circuit Court, and go directly to the Supreme Court.

The case potentially could result in a clarification of states' power to decide when a candidate for the national legislature has lost eligibility -- an issue that iimplicates the constitutional definition of qualifications for a congressional candidate.

Tina Benkiser, chair of the state party, said in a statement that the GOP considers DeLay no longer eligible to be a candidate, because he has moved to Virginia and plans to remain there. He resigned from the House in April, amid spreading difficulties over campaign finance and lobbying scandals and said he would not run for reelection. He resigned after he had won the GOP primary in Texas' 22d congressional district in March; for the time being, he remains on the ballot. -- SCOTUSblog

Note: The opinion in the case is here.

Texas: Tom DeLay must remain on ballot, 5th Circuit rules

Reuter reports: A U.S. Appeals Court rejected a request by Tom DeLay, the indicted former House of Representatives Republican leader, to have his name taken off the November congressional ballot, according to a report on the Houston Chronicle Web site on Thursday. -- Court says DeLay stays on Tex. ballot: report | Politics News | Reuters.com

The docket entries say (in Texas Democratic, et al v. Benkiser, #: 06-50812):
8/3/06 Opinion filed. Issd in T form? Y Mandate pull date is
8/24/06. [06-50812] (rmf)

8/3/06 Judgment entered and filed. [06-50812] (rmf)

8/3/06 COURT Order filed denying appellant's motion for stay
pending appeal [5515526-1], denying appellant's motion for
stay pending appeal [5515526-2], denying appellant's motion
for stay pending appeal [5500986-1](HANDLED IN
OPINION)(FPB,JLD,EBC) Copies to all counsel. [06-50812] (rmf)

August 2, 2006

Alabama: for third year, State Bar will propose appointment of judges, rather than partisan elections

The Birmingham News reports: Alabama lawyers soon will push for merit-based appointment of appellate court judges, saying the state must change its reputation for costly and mean court races.

When the state Legislature convenes in March, the Alabama State Bar expects the introduction of a bill to appoint judges on the state Supreme Court and courts of appeals, Fournier "Boots" Gale III, a Birmingham lawyer who became the bar's president last month, said in an interview.

If the legislation were approved, a committee would recommend judicial candidates to the governor, who would make the appointment. Every six years, voters would decide whether to keep the judge in office, which is known as a retention election. ...

Alabama's judicial campaigns have become the most expensive in the country, according to Gale and national organizations that track judicial elections.

Since 1993, interest groups have poured almost $48 million into state Supreme Court races alone - including $4.6 million spent in the Republican primary for five state Supreme Court races so far this year. -- Bar urges judges be appointed

July 31, 2006

Texas: 5th Circuit judges appear skeptical of DeLay's change of residence ploy

The Houston Chronicle reports: A federal appeals panel indicated today that the ability of Republicans to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom Delay on the ballot rests on whether there was "conclusive" evidence that he had moved to Virginia.

The three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals did not indicate when it would rule. But questions from the panel seemed to favor the Democrats' position that Republican officials could not declare DeLay ineligible for office based on residency prior to election day.

Republican lawyer James Bopp Jr. told the panel that DeLay had given Texas Republican Chairwoman Tina Benkiser enough evidence that she could make a "reasonable prediction" that DeLay would not be a resident of Texas on election day. That evidence included a change of driver's license and voter registration, plus a letter stating he had moved to Virginia. ...

But Judges Pete Benavides and Edith Clement noted that a candidate like DeLay could move back to Texas by election day and be eligible for office. They said the U.S. Constitution would prohibit a state party official from throwing a candidate off the ballot in such circumstances.

"How can it be conclusive if you can always change your voter registration," Clement asked. -- Chron.com | Judges quiz lawyers in DeLay ballot battle

July 25, 2006

North Carolina: 2 GOP candidate face residency challenges

AP reports: A Wake County judge won't rule for several days on whether Republican candidates in two state House primaries should have been disqualified because elections officials said they didn't meet residency requirements to run.

Superior Court Judge Don Stephens heard arguments Monday in the appeals of Frank Mitchell and Tommy Pollard, who weren't allowed to receive votes in the May 2 primary.

The state board ruled that Pollard didn't meet the one-year residency requirement to qualify as a candidate in the 15th House District primary against Rep. Robert Grady, R-Onslow.

The board also disqualified Mitchell because he still lived outside the 79the House District even though he bought land with a mobile home in Rep. Julia Howard's district in October 2005. -- AP Wire | 07/24/2006 | Wake County judge hears N.C. House candidate challenges

July 13, 2006

Arizona: judge disqualifies GOP candidate for forgery

AP reports: A judge ruled that a Republican legislator committed petition forgery and ordered him removed from the ballot in a key Senate race.

If upheld on a possible appeal, the ruling by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge removing Rep. Russell Jones of Yuma from the ballot would deal a serious blow to Republican hopes of winning a veto-proof majority in the Arizona Legislature in November.

State law requires that a person who signs the back of a nominating petition as its circulator be present when voters sign the front.

Judge Kenneth Fields ruled in a challenge filed by Democrats that Jones engaged in forgery to get a place on the September primary ballot when he signed at least nine petitions as the circulator "knowing that he did not obtain the electors' signature in his presence." -- Petition violation could keep GOP's Jones off ballot | www.azstarnet.com ®

July 6, 2006

Texas: poor ole Tom DeLay must remain on the ballot

The US District Court for the Western District of Texas has restrained the Republican Party from disqualifying Tom DeLay as a candidate and from certifying anyone else as a candidate in his place. The judgment and opinion are attached.

July 4, 2006

Connecticut: Lieberman's plan to be an "independent Democrat" has a problem

The Hartford Courant reports: Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman announced today he will petition for a place on the November ballot as an "independent Democrat," giving him a chance to stay alive politically should he lose an Aug. 8 primary for the Democratic nomination.

Lieberman, 64, a three-term senator whose outspoken support of the war in Iraq has brought months of grief and inspired a strong primary challenge from Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont, announced his decision this afternoon at a brief press conference at the State Capitol. -- courant.com | Lieberman Will Petition

But My Left Nutmeg reports: Despite the BS he was flinging at his press conference, Joe Lieberman will not appear on the ballot as an "independent Democrat." The law ... says so.

Sec. 9-453u. (Formerly Sec. 9-378m). Reservation of party designation.

(a) An application to reserve a party designation with the Secretary of the State and to form a party designation committee may be made at any time after November 3, 1981, by filing in the office of the secretary a written statement signed by at least twenty-five electors who desire to be members of such committee. ...

(c) The statement shall include the party designation to be reserved which (1) shall consist of not more than three words and not more than twenty-five letters; (2) shall not incorporate the name of any major party .... --
The "Independent Democrat" Lie

June 12, 2006

Colorado: Holtzman on the GOP primary ballot -- for now

The Denver Post reports: A Denver District Court judge Friday ordered the secretary of state's office to put gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman on the Republican primary ballot. ...

However, whether Holtzman has enough valid signatures to legally stay on the Aug. 8 ballot will not be decided for at least 10 days. If he doesn't, his name will still appear on the ballot but votes cast for him won't be counted.

Judge R. Michael Mullins said it was in the public interest for Holtzman to be put on the ballot Friday, which was the legal deadline for the secretary of state to certify the ballot. Under those tight state-mandated deadlines for certification and printing, Holtzman's name might not be able to be added to the ballot if it's later found he did collect sufficient signatures.

"What's at risk here is if Mr. Holtzman is successful on his challenge ... then he doesn't have a remedy if he is not allowed on the ballot, which in effect denies his access to the ballot," the judge said. -- DenverPost.com - Holtzman put on ballot

Hat tip to Taegan D. Goddard's Political Wire.

June 6, 2006

Georgia: federal court allows 2 on Effingham Co. ballot, but excludes 1

The Savannah Morning News reports: Two Effingham County Commission hopefuls were approved by a federal judge for this year's election, but a third was left scratching his head after being rejected.

U.S. District Court Judge Avant Edenfield's ruling on residency requirements stemming from a 1982 civil rights suit permits Steve Collins to run in District 5 and Michael King in District 2. ...

Questions about the residency of the three candidates were raised just hours after the April 28 qualifying deadline when county officials came across a residency requirement set 22 years ago by Edenfield. As part of a civil rights lawsuit settlement between a minority organization and county officials, Edenfield wrote a consent order aimed at giving minorities more voting strength.

Part of the agreement stipulated a five-year residency requirement for candidates, a regulation which was soon forgotten and never enforced.

Voting rules have changed over the years since the consent order, nearly eliminating residency requirements.

Collins and King are Effingham residents, but not for five consecutive years. Wilkins has lived in Effingham for more than five years, but wanted to qualify for a district that he hopes to relocate to by the election. -- SavannahNOW | Two Effingham candidates get go-ahead, third rejected - 06/05/2006

Alabama: Libertarian fails to get enough petition signatures to run for governor

AP reports: The colorful Libertarian Party nominee for governor, Loretta Nall, said Monday she will run as a write-in candidate after failing to get enough signatures to get her name on the general election ballot.

"I'm not dropping out," Nall said.

Tuesday is the deadline for third-party candidates to turn in voters' signatures to the secretary of state to get ballot access for Nov. 7. Nall needed 41,300 signatures to get on the general election ballot. She said she and her supporters collected between 10,000 and 15,000 signatures, which she plans to turn in Tuesday to make a point about Alabama having one of the nation's toughest ballot access laws for third parties.

"In almost any other state, that would have been enough to get ballot access," she said. -- Libertarian nominee Loretta Nall fails to get enough signature - Tuscaloosa

May 30, 2006

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)).

May 26, 2006

Alabama: Steve Small asks Supreme Court for special primary

The Birmingham News reports: Former Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Small has asked the Alabama Supreme Court to hold a special election to allow Small to try to regain his seat against incumbent Shelia Smoot in District 2.

Walter Braswell, an attorney for Small, said his client's case has been accepted on appeal by the Alabama Supreme Court and granted expedited consideration.

A Jefferson County circuit judge in April upheld the Democratic Party's decision to bar Small from the primary ballot as a candidate for the County Commission. -- Small wants court to order special election

April 10, 2006

Alabama: judge declines to rule on Steve Small's eligibility

The Birmingham News reports: A circuit judge on Friday upheld the Democratic Party's decision to bar Steve Small from the primary ballot as a candidate for Jefferson County Commission District 2. Small said he will ask the court on Monday to take a second look at his case.

"We'll file a motion to reconsider Monday asking the judge to specifically address how it is both the Democratic Party and Steve Small can have constitutional rights involved and yet the court not take jurisdiction," said Walter Braswell, Small's attorney.

The state Democratic Party had ruled that Small violated party rules by running against Shelia Smoot as a write-in candidate in 2002. Smoot defeated Small during in the 2002 Democratic primary. ...

Circuit Judge William Noble upheld the party's decision, saying the court did not have jurisdiction in the matter. Alabama law allows political parties to set their own qualifying rules and procedures as long as they meet constitutional and statutory laws. -- Judge upholds keeping Small off ballot

April 9, 2006

Both parties play "ballot games"

Natalie Gonzales writes on Political Wire: While some Democrats are incensed about the way former Majority Leader Tom DeLay chose to exit his race for reelection in Texas 22, both parties are guilty of being coy with election laws, primaries, and filing deadlines to gain a partisan advantage.

Of all the accusations hurled at DeLay, being politically unaware is not one of them. The congressman certainly could have bowed out before the March 7 primary, but he waited another three weeks so he could have direct role in choosing his successor. His move unquestionably gives the Republicans a better chance to hold the seat Bush carried 64%-35% in 2004. -- Taegan Goddard's Political Wire

March 30, 2006

Alabama: court hears argument on Mobile special election law

The Mobile Register reports on my argument yesterday: An attorney representing three south Alabama lawmakers told a panel of three federal judges Wednesday that Gov. Bob Riley broke the law when he named Juan Chastang to the Mobile County Commission last November.

The legislators sued the governor in a Montgomery federal court, saying Riley failed to follow a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that requires the U.S. Justice Department to review in advance any changes to Alabama election practices.

Riley maintains that there was no change, so preclearance was not needed for him to fill the District 1 post, emptied when Sam Jones became Mobile's mayor in October.

The suit was filed by state Reps. Yvonne Kennedy and James Buskey, both D-Mobile, and Bill Clark, D-Prichard. They asked the court to order a belated Justice Department review. If clearance is not granted, they asked the court to set a special election for the seat and remove Chastang, a Republican, from office. -- Attorneys spar over appointment

Documents from the case can be downloaded from my office website.

March 28, 2006

Louisiana: "I.Q." nickname removed from 7 candidates for New Orleans assessor candidates

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports: In the wake of court decisions stripping the initials "I.Q." from the ballot listings of two candidates for separate Orleans Parish assessor districts, Louisiana Secretary of State Al Ater has removed the label from the listings of five other assessor candidates on the "I Quit" ticket.

The state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal last week upheld rulings by two district judges that candidates Chase Jones and Ron Mazier could not include "I.Q." as a nickname on their listings for the April 22 election, and the state Supreme Court refused Friday to hear an appeal from that ruling.

Although state law permits the use of nicknames on the ballot, it prohibits "designations," and the courts ruled that listing "I.Q.," which Jones and Mazier admitted they had never used as a nickname before agreeing to join the "I.Q." ticket, therefore was illegal.

With no public announcement, Ater's office then stripped the term from the ballot listings of the five other candidates, although no legal challenges had been filed against them. ...

The "I Quit" ticket qualified candidates against the incumbents in all seven New Orleans assessor races, and all included "I.Q." in their names. If elected, all seven have pledged to forgo their annual salary and use the money to hire a professional appraisal firm to handle property valuations. Their ultimate goal is to consolidate the seven assessor offices into one, a move that would require state legislation and voter approval, and they have promised to step down if such legislation is approved. -- All 'I.Q.' initials taken off ballots

March 10, 2006

Pennsylvania: candidate's residency challenged

The Philadelphia Daily News reports: Former state Sen. Milton Street is considering another run for public office. But it will take approval from the Commonwealth Court to put him on the ballot.

Street, who listed a home address in New Jersey as recently as November, surfaced this week as a potential candidate for the Pennsylvania state House.

But his nomination petitions were rejected by the Pennsylvania Department of State, a spokeswoman said yesterday, because Street was unable to identify the district he was running in.

"That's something that can be amendable through Commonwealth Court," said the spokeswoman, Allison Hrestak. But it would take a petition to the court and focus early attention on Street's residency claims.

The state constitution specifies that House members be residents of their districts for one year before their elections, unless they are absent "on public business of the United States or this state," such as for military service. -- Philadelphia Daily News | 03/09/2006 | Milton Street's residency at issue in Pa. House try

Alabama: excluded candidates sues Democratic Party

The Birmingham News reports: The Alabama Democratic Party has unfairly singled out a former Jefferson County Commissioner for punishment by keeping him out of the upcoming June primary, according to a complaint filed Thursday in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

The complaint accuses the party of not accepting qualifying papers from former Commissioner Steve Small.

Walter Braswell, who filed the complaint on Small's behalf, said the party doesn't want his client to run in District 2 because incumbent Shelia Smoot is vulnerable.

Joe Turnham, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, said on Thursday that Small violated the party rules by running against Smoot as an independent after Small lost in a runoff in the last election. -- Small says Democrats single him out for ban

February 22, 2006

Ohio: Wilson's petitions are short by 2 signatures

The Vindicator reports: Charles A. Wilson Jr. doesn't have enough valid signatures on his nominating petitions to run in the Democratic primary for the 6th Congressional District race, The Vindicator has learned.

The Columbiana County Board of Elections is left with no other choice but to disqualify Wilson's candidacy for the seat at its meeting today.

Wilson has only 48 valid signatures on his nominating petitions, according to two Democratic sources and one Republican source with knowledge of his petitions. Congressional candidates need 50 valid signatures from registered voters in their districts to get on the ballot. ...

His petitions had 96 signatures, all from Belmont and Scioto counties. Those counties are split into two congressional districts, and 43 of the signatures on his petitions came from voters who live in other congressional districts. -- Vindy.com - Sources: Wilson petitions not valid

Thanks to Richard Winger for the tip.

Alabama: Judge continues ouster case against county commissioner

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports: A Houston County, Ala., judge appointed Chief Deputy District Attorney Buster Landreau to continue the civil case challenging whether Russell County Commissioner Ronnie Reed has the right to keep his post.

District Judge Brad Mandheim of Dothan listened to arguments two weeks ago from Landreau, Reed's attorney Jim McKoon and Ken White, attorney for Fort Mitchell resident Gerald Kite, about who should continue the case against Reed. The commissioner's eligibility for holding office is being questioned because he was convicted of burglarizing Safe Lite Optical on Jacqueline Drive in Columbus in 1975.

Mandheim decided Friday to make Landreau fold his investigation into Kite's original complaint.

According to Alabama law, a convicted felon not pardoned in the state where the offense occurred is not eligible to hold public office in Alabama. Reed's voting rights were restored at the end of his sentence, but his political rights weren't restored by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles until December -- after the challenge was filed and more than a year after he was elected. Reed, 51, represents Russell County District 4. -- Ledger-Enquirer | 02/22/2006 | Judge rules to continue case

January 11, 2006

Texas: candidates play "whack the opponent"

The Dallas Morning News reports: Several incumbents and veteran candidates have seized on flaws in their primary opponents' ballot applications, using lawsuits and challenges brought before the state parties to eliminate their opponents before the campaign begins.

Political consultants and election officials said they're seeing more challenges this year. Many have occurred in judicial races, in which candidates typically have less money to mount a statewide campaign and are looking for any advantage.

"One of the first things you do before you spend your campaign money is try to find something to challenge, so you don't have to spend your campaign money," said Jim Boynton, primary director for the Texas Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party is researching challenges made in two races for the appellate courts and one for a state House district. Several Republican contenders have already scored early knockouts with ballot challenges.

Some candidates bringing the challenges offered no apologies for holding opponents to the letter of the law. But the losing candidates and advocates of more political participation said the punishment was too harsh for what amounted to political misdemeanors and robs voters of choices. -- Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News

Thanks to reader Dave Rausch for telling me about one of these challenges.

January 5, 2006

Illinois: appellate court allows candidates to qualify for circuit judge seats

The Chicago Tribute reports: The Illinois Appellate Court reversed a temporary restraining order Tuesday in a case involving three judges who missed a filing deadline to run for retention, opening the door for other candidates to seek their seats.

The ruling could soon be moot, however, if a Cook County circuit judge grants the judges' motion for summary judgment on grounds that the current December filing deadline violates the state constitution. ...

Lawyers for the three judges obtained the temporary restraining order preventing other candidates from filing for the seats while a court battle is waged to get the three judges on the ballot. -- Chicago Tribune | Reversal of court order opens door to candidates

December 21, 2005

Illinois: 3 forgetful judges are on the ballot, at least temporarily

The Chicago Sun-Times reports: An embarrassing blemish in the annals of Cook County's judicial history -- that's all that's likely to become of the case of three judges who, state officials said, failed to file their paperwork for re-election before a state-mandated deadline.

Joan Margaret O'Brien, Carole Kamin Bellows and James A. Varga are all likely to appear on the 2006 ballot, despite objections filed by the Illinois secretary of state's office, which wouldn't accept their paperwork after Dec. 5.

Tuesday, Cook County Judge Patrick McGann granted the three judges a temporary restraining order barring the state from declaring any vacancies or accepting nominating petitions from anyone else. -- 3 judges with late paperwork likely to be on ballot

October 31, 2005

Alito: another election decision

Cross-posted to DearSenator.org

Ballot Access News reports: Judge Samuel Alito authored a New Jersey ballot access decision in 1999, Council of Alternative Political Parties v Hooks, 179 F 3d 64. It upheld New Jersey’s early June petition deadline for non-presidential minor party and independent candidates. Alito upheld the deadline based on the state’s interest in “voter education” (in other words, if candidates could get on the ballot as late as, say, August, there might not be even time for voters to learn about them). Also, Alito said that a state has an interest in treating all candidates equally. The major parties hold their primaries in June, the same day minor party and independent candidate petitions are due; Alito felt it would be unfair to the major parties if minor parties could enter the race later than the primary. -- Judge Alito’s Ballot Access Decision

I did a quick Westlaw search this morning as I heard the news about Alito. This was the only case I found in the election area.

October 26, 2005

Alabama: State Supreme Court denies Governor's request to stay special primary election

The Mobile Register reports: The Alabama Supreme Court denied Gov. Bob Riley's request to delay an upcoming special election to fill a vacancy on the Mobile County Commission.

The unanimous decision, announced Tuesday, means that the election most likely will proceed as scheduled with party primaries on Nov. 22. The general election is set for Jan. 3. ...

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also agreed to expedite its review of a lower court ruling in the case. Briefs could be accepted as late as Dec. 8, well after the primaries. ...

The vacancy occurred when longtime District 1 Commissioner Sam Jones, a Democrat, was sworn in as mayor of Mobile earlier this month.

Three Mobile County legislators, all Democrats, sued to force a vote for the seat. Trial Judge Eugene Reese, a Democrat on the Montgomery County Circuit Court, ruled that there should be a special election to choose someone to serve the three years remain ing on Jones' commission term. The special election is projected to cost $189,000. -- High court clears way for primaries

October 8, 2005

Miers urged broad reading of Constitution in 2000

Tim Grieve writes on Salon.com: OK, so we take it all back. It turns out that Harriet Miers does have experience in matters of constitutional law: As the Wall Street Journal reports today, she has argued a case involving the rather obscure 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Her client: George W. Bush. Her argument: Dick Cheney wasn't really a resident of the state of Texas even if he was really a resident of the state of Texas.

Continue reading "Miers urged broad reading of Constitution in 2000" »

September 23, 2005

North Carolina: Libertarians sue over decertification

The Winston-Salem Journal reports: The Libertarian Party of North Carolina has filed a lawsuit in Wake County over its removal as an official state party, an action that could help two candidates for Winston-Salem City Council.

On Aug. 22, the State Board of Elections decertified the Libertarian Party, which failed to get 10 percent of the vote in last November's election.

As a result, Forsyth County elections officials removed Libertarians Richard Norman and Thomas Leinbach, candidates for the Winston-Salem City Council, from the Nov. 8 ballot.

Norman was able to get back on the ballot a as an unaffiliated candidate after gathering enough signatures for a petition. Leinbach is running as a write-in candidate.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, says that state laws make it too difficult for third parties to establish themselves in North Carolina. The lawsuit is trying to have North Carolina law on third parties overturned. -- Winston-Salem Journal | Libertarian Party files to regain ballot status

May 27, 2005

Kuwait: women given the right to vote -- if they abide by Islamic law

Reuters reports: Kuwaiti women hailed as historic a decision to allow them to vote and run for parliament -- a law passed despite fierce resistance by Islamist and conservative MPs. ...

The all-male parliament passed the law on Monday after a nine-hour session.

The pro-reform government tempted lawmakers by backing a popular bill to raise salaries for most public and private employees.

Islamist MPs added a clause stipulating women must abide by Islamic law when voting or running for office. This would imply separate polling stations for men and women. -- International News Article | Reuters.com

May 24, 2005

Supreme Court refuses to hear Nader case

AP reports: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday announced it won't consider whether Oregon election officials wrongly kept Ralph Nader off the presidential ballot last November.

The court declined to hear Nader supporters' appeal of an Oregon Supreme Court decision that denied the consumer activist a ballot spot because of flawed petition signature sheets.

Nader turned to a statewide petition drive after failing at two mini-conventions in Portland to get the 1,000 voter signatures needed to qualify for the ballot as an independent candidate.

He needed 15,306 signatures to get on the ballot under the alternate method, and petitioners turned in more than 18,000 signatures.

But Secretary of State Bill Bradbury said that after checking, Nader fell 218 signatures short of being on the ballot. Bradbury disqualified thousands of signatures for not conforming to technical rules, such as petition circulators not having properly signed each sheet. -- Supreme Court won't consider Nader plea - The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA

April 6, 2005

Arkansas: Is Asa Hutchinson eligible to run for governor?

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports: The Arkansas Constitution requires governors to be residents of Arkansas for seven years, and Asa Hutchinson only recently moved back here after living out of state for more than three years.

But he believes there’s no question that he meets the constitutional residency requirement in his race for the Republican Party nomination for governor. "I could meet the residency requirement if it said 50 years," Hutchinson said.

Article 6, Section 5, of the Arkansas Constitution states that "no person shall be eligible to the office of Governor except a citizen of the United States who shall have attained the age of thirty years, and shall have been seven years a resident of this State."

It doesn’t say whether the seven years must be immediately before the election. Apparently no court or attorney general’s opinion has ever interpreted the seven years requirement. -- NWAnews.com :: Northwest Arkansas' News Source

While there may not have been a court case about the Arkansas requirement, there has been litigation about the similar provision in the Alabama Constitution. A born-and-bred Alabamian moved back to state and decided to run for the State Senate a couple of years later. The Alabama Supreme Court held that the Democratic Party [I was general counsel for the Party at the time] was correct in ruling that she did not meet the constitutional requirements. It held that one cannot tack on the earlier residency with the later period to meet the five-year requirement.

November 15, 2004

The count goes on in San Diego mayor's race

AP reports: A judge on Monday refused to halt the vote count in the San Diego mayor's race, a victory for a maverick city councilwoman who has mounted a surprisingly strong write-in campaign.

The decision came as the vote tally showed the race tightening between Councilwoman Donna Frye, a 52-year-old surf shop owner, and Mayor Dick Murphy.

Monday's ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed by Frye's opponents on the grounds that the election must be a runoff between the top two finishers in the primary – in this case, Murphy and county Supervisor Ron Roberts. The challenge was brought six days after the election.

Retired Judge Charles Jones stopped short of dismissing the lawsuit, but said that Frye's opponents had waited too long to challenge her campaign. When Frye entered the race five weeks before the Nov. 2 election, there were "no protests, no cries of illegality, no lawsuits." -- SignOnSanDiego.com > News > Politics -- Judge refuses to halt vote count in San Diego mayor's race

November 3, 2004

Kentucky -- candidate residency suit

AP reports: A judge on Wednesday temporarily stopped Jefferson County [Kentucky] from certifying a disputed state Senate race while a lawsuit challenging the winning candidate's eligibility is pending.

The ruling means the results of the vote in the 37th District in Louisville will remain in limbo when the rest of the vote tallies are turned over to the Secretary of State on Friday.

Democrat Virginia Woodward filed a legal challenge over whether Republican Dana Seum Stephenson met the residency requirements to run for the office. In a lawsuit filed Monday, Woodward claimed Stephenson did not live in the district for six years before the election as required by the Kentucky Constitution.

Stephenson defeated Woodward in Tuesday's election in a heated race to replace retiring Democratic state Sen. Larry Saunders. -- AP Wire | 11/03/2004 | Judge hears challenge to winner of state Senate seat

October 28, 2004

Nader will be a write-in in Missouri

The Springfield (MO) News-Leader reports: Ralph Nader has qualified as a write-in candidate for president in Missouri.

Nader's name will not appear on the ballot or be posted at polling places, but people who write in Nader for their vote will have it counted, the secretary of state's office said today. If people write in other candidates who have not followed Missouri's process, those votes won't count.

To qualify as a write-in candidate in Missouri, Nader simply had to submit paperwork to the secretary of state's office by the Oct. 22 deadline declaring his intent to be a write-in candidate. -- Nader qualifies as write-in candidate in Missouri (News-Leader.com)

October 27, 2004

Supreme Court keeps Nader off the Ohio ballot

AP reports: The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to put independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the ballot in the battleground state of Ohio.

On Friday, Nader asked the high court to review Ohio's decision to remove him, arguing that a state law that requires people who collect signatures on candidates' petitions be registered voters violated free speech rights.

Nader's request for a review went to Justice John Paul Stevens, who referred the matter to the full court. The justices denied the request without comment Tuesday. -- Supreme Court Ousts Nader From Ohio Ballot (AP via NYlawyer.com)

October 25, 2004

The county moved away from the candidate

The Charlotte Observer reports: John Meadows is listed on Iredell County ballots as a candidate for county commissioner, but Iredell officials say he doesn't live in the county.

They point to a recent shift in the Iredell-Rowan border, which was re-surveyed several years ago using satellite computer mapping technology, resulting in small changes to the border. As a result, Meadows' house was placed in Rowan County.

Meadows disputes the change, and a judge's ruling has allowed him to remain an Iredell voter and Democratic candidate, although that could change at a county elections board hearing today, when a north Iredell resident challenges his residency. ...

Until the election, he's not taking any chances.

He has put a camper on the portion of his property both he and officials agree is in Iredell and is sleeping there. -- Border shift may derail candidate (Charlotte Observer)

US Supreme Court keeps Nader off the Pennsylvania ballot

AP reports: The Supreme Court on Saturday refused to place independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the ballot in Pennsylvania, upholding a state court finding of flawed signatures on voter petition sheets.

Nader asked the high court on Thursday to review Pennsylvania’s decision to remove him. A state court cited legal problems with his nomination papers that left him thousands of signatures short of the number required for the Nov. 2 ballot. -- MSNBC - Supreme Court won't put Nader on Pa. ballot (AP via MSNBC.com)

October 21, 2004

Indiana judge allows GOP to substitute candidate

The Indianapolis Star reports: A Marion County judge ruled today that Rep. R. Brooks LaPlante should be the Republican choice on the November ballot in House District 46 in west central Indiana.

And in an order that could have far-reaching implications, Judge Gary L. Miller also ruled that all absentee ballots cast in this district, which includes Terre Haute, are void. That doesn't just affect the legislative race, but it also would void all votes cast in what's likely to be a close governor's race.

The fight over whose name is on the ballot began when Jeff Lee, who won the May primary, suddenly moved out of the district, creating the vacancy.

Republicans want to replace him with LaPlante, whose first term in office was plagued with campaign finance problems. LaPlante decided not to run for re-election earlier this year.

Democrats charge that Lee really didn't move, and that this was a last-ditch effort by Republicans who saw their chances of winning this seat slipping away. Democrat Vern Tincher is running in this race. -- Judge's ruling puts House race in turmoil (indystar.com)

The Democrats had earlier won on this same candidate switch in Vigo County. Marcia Oddi has more background on her Indiana Law blog, including the fact that this is Lee's second withdrawal. Because of that the GOP contends the Vigo County decision does not apply.

Nader asks U.S. Supreme Court to put him on Pennsylvania ballot

AP reports: Ralph Nader asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to place him on the general election ballot in Pennsylvania, a battleground state expected to be critical in the outcome of the Nov. 2 presidential election.

In a sign the high court planned to move swiftly, Justice David H. Souter immediately requested that Pennsylvania officials file a response to Nader's emergency request by 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Nader's late-evening filing asks the Supreme Court to review Pennsylvania's decision to remove the independent candidate because of legal problems with his nomination papers that left him thousands of signatures short of the number required.

He argued that Pennsylvania courts improperly excluded signatures from more than 15,000 Pennsylvania residents who are not registered to vote, saying such a requirement is a violation of First Amendment rights of expression and association. -- Nader Tries to Get on Pa. Ballot (AP via macon.com)

October 19, 2004

Nader still off the Pennsylvania ballot

AP reports: The state Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that ordered Ralph Nader off Pennsylvania's presidential ballot.

The one-page order, released Tuesday, did not include any explanation; one judge dissented the ruling.

"This is a total victory for our side," said Gregory M. Harvey, an attorney challenging Nader's petition to appear on the ballot.

Nader's spokesman Kevin Zeese said the campaign would appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps as early as tomorrow. -- Supreme Court upholds ruling barring Nader from Pa. ballot (AP via TheState.com)

6th Circuit rules against Nader's Ohio ballot attempt

AP reports: A federal appeals court has ruled that it would not grant presidential candidate Ralph Nader an injunction to block a lower court's order that removed him from the Ohio ballot.

Nader had appealed an Oct. 12 ruling by U.S. District Judge Edmund Sargus, who refused to place the independent on the ballot because of fraud by signature collectors.

A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in its decision Monday that Nader could not demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of the case.

"The state administrative hearing officer found substantial evidence of fraud by the petition circulators which is supported by the evidence," the decision said. -- Federal appeals court denies Nader emergency injunction (AP via ohio.com)

October 18, 2004

Wisconsin GOP officers ran petition drive for Nader

AP reports: At least 16 Republican Party officers and volunteers were involved in a secret signature drive to get independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on Wisconsin's ballot, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Organizers gathered an estimated 3,228 signatures - far more than the 2,000 required to put Nader on the Nov. 2 ballot, the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison reported.

Political experts agree Nader's presence on the ballot improves President Bush's chances of winning in Wisconsin, a state he lost by less than 1 percentage point in the 2000 election, by drawing potential votes from Democratic candidate John Kerry.

Nader's Wisconsin coordinator, Bill Linville, told the newspaper he didn't turn the signatures over to the state Elections Board because the head of the drive, UW-Madison student Matt Holsen, refused to say who was behind it. -- Report: Republicans tried to get Nader on Wisconsin ballot (AP via GMtoday.com)

Nader loses again in bid to get on the Arizona ballot

AP reports: A federal Appeals Court on Friday rejected independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's bid to appear on Arizona's ballot.

The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in San Francisco, came two weeks after early voting for the Nov. 2 presidential election had begun in Arizona.

"If the 9th Circuit had ruled that we had to reprint the ballot, we would have been in a real pickle," Assistant Arizona Attorney General Jessica Funkhouser said.

Nader attorney Robert E. Barnes said it is unlikely that the campaign will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. -- Nader ballot appeal in Arizona defeated (AP via AZCentral.com)

October 16, 2004

Nader opinion from Pennsylvania

Update:
Here is the full 444-page opinion. Thanks to TalkLeft for the link.

====

Here is the opinion of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania regarding the Ralph Nader petitions to obtain ballot position. Thanks to Milind Shaw for sending the file.

There are another 950 pages of exhibits and findings by the judges who reviewed the ballots. I don't have those -- and you probably would not want to read them.

Nader appeals to Pennsylvania supreme court

AP reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader took his battle for a spot on Pennsylvania's ballot to the state Supreme Court Friday in a brief arguing that a lower court erred two days earlier when it invalidated his nominating petition.

In a 64-page brief, Nader's lawyers said the state Commonwealth Court should have allowed signatures from people who are not registered to vote. The filing said signatories need only be "qualified electors."
After examining 51,000 signatures that Nader's campaign submitted to state elections officials, judges said fewer than 19,000 met the necessary legal standard. That left Nader well short of the 25,697 needed for inclusion on the Nov. 2 ballot.

"The final order entered by Commonwealth Court is premised on an erroneous interpretation of the law: namely, that the signatories and affiants of nomination papers must be registered voters at the addresses listed by them on the nomination papers at or before the time they sign," Nader's lawyers wrote. -- Nader Takes Ballot Battle to State Supreme Court (AP via Indiana Gazette)

October 13, 2004

Nader off the Pennsylvania ballot

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports: A Commonwealth Court today ruled that Ralph Nader does not have enough valid signatures to be on the ballot in Pennsylvania, but the legal fight will continue - leaving election officials here worried about running out of time to get ready for the Nov. 2 election.

President Judge James Gardner Colins said that only 18,818 of the 51,273 voter signatures that Nader submitted to get on the ballot were valid - and that his petition was "the most deceitful and fraudulent exercise ever perpetrated on this court." That left Nader 6,879 signatures short of the 25,697 signatures required by law.

The Nader campaign said even before the decision was handed down that it planned to appeal an adverse ruling to the state Supreme Court. That could delay a final determination on Nader's status for a few days, a week - or more.

Officials in each of the state's 67 counties have been wrestling for weeks with how to handle absentee ballots, which have to go out early. The Pennsylvania Department of State had urged counties to hold off on mailing them before the court ruling yesterday. But many counties, including Philadelphia and others in the region, opted to mail them anyway - reasoning that voters needed as much time as possible to send them back by the Oct. 29 deadline. -- Court drops Ralph Nader from Pennsylvania ballot (philly.com)

October 12, 2004

Ohio federal court rules against Nader because of fraud

AP reports: A federal judge refused Tuesday to place independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the Ohio ballot, citing fraud by signature collectors.

U.S. Judge Edmund Sargus ruled against Nader in deciding that the fraud outweighed the constitutional issues Nader raised.

In his opinion, Sargus agreed with Nader that a state law requiring collectors to be registered Ohio voters and state residents is a constitutional violation of free speech rights.

But he wrote, "Regardless of how the Court would resolve the question of whether a state law requiring circulators to be state residents is constitutional, the fact remains that the signatures would be excluded on the grounds of several forms of fraud on the part of the circulators." -- Judge refuses to order Nader's name placed on Ohio ballot (AP via TheState.com)

October 11, 2004

Nader wins in Maine Supreme Judicial Court

AP reports: The state's highest court on Friday upheld a decision by election officials to allow Ralph Nader on Maine's presidential ballot, rejecting a last-ditch appeal by the head of the Maine Democratic Party.

The unanimous decision by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court came 48 hours after justices heard arguments on the appeal by state Democratic Party Chairwoman Dorothy Melanson. The decision puts to an end a weeks-long effort by Democrats to keep Nader off the ballot.

In its ruling, the court said Secretary of State Dan Gwadosky was correct in concluding that Nader and his running mate, Peter Camejo, should be on the ballot. -- Nader remains on Maine ballot (AP via Portsmouth Herald )

Nader sues Hawaii

The Honolulu Advertiser reports: Attorneys for independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader filed a suit in federal court yesterday in an attempt to get the state Office of Elections to put the consumer advocate on the November ballot in Hawai'i.

Election officials and representatives of the Nader campaign are still examining disputed signatures to determine whether Nader supporters collected the 3,711 signatures needed to qualify. But Eric Seitz, an attorney for the Nader campaign, said the suit was filed in case the recount does not change the state's initial conclusion that Nader supporters did not collect enough valid signatures.

"It doesn't appear that it's going to change things," Seitz said, adding that a hearing in U.S. District Court has been scheduled for Wednesday.

The suit also covers Michael Peroutka, the presidential candidate for the Constitution Party, who also did not have enough signatures to qualify, according to state election officials. -- Suit filed to put Nader on ballot (The Honolulu Advertiser)

Ohio's election-related lawsuits

AP reports: After the 2000 presidential election mess in Florida, many political watchers predicted that lawyers would take on a larger role in this year's election.

They're off to an early start in Ohio. No fewer than five major election cases landed before courts in Ohio - all at least one month before the Nov. 2 election.

While court challenges of election law are common in the weeks before the election, the number of high-profile cases to reach court is unusual, said Herb Asher, a political scientist at Ohio State University who has followed Ohio elections for more than 30 years.

The Ohio Supreme Court has two challenges before it. A constitutional ban on gay marriages that is to go before voters Nov. 2 should be removed, opponents say, because the petitions circulated to collect the signatures to get on the ballot did not include a summary of what the amendment would do. An appeals court has upheld the ballot issue.

Backers of independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader have appealed to the high court a ruling by Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell that some petition circulators illegally collected the signatures. The ruling meant Nader's bid fell short of the required 5,000 signatures of registered Ohio voters. -- PERSPECTIVE: Dockets crowded with election cases (AP via TheState.com)

October 7, 2004

Nader loses in 5th Circuit over Texas ballot access; also loses in Idaho

AP reports: A federal appeals court yesterday rejected independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's attempt to force his way onto the Texas ballot in the November election.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans denied Nader's bid, ruling that Texas' tough ballot-access requirements for independents are constitutional.

The state ballot without Nader has already been certified and sent to all 254 Texas counties.

Meanwhile, Nader supporters in Idaho lost their bid yesterday to win the longtime consumer advocate a spot on that state's general election ballot. -- 5th Circuit backs Texas, denies Nader ballot access (AP via FirstAmendmentCenter.org)

Nader sues Ohio

AP reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader has sued the state [of Ohio] in federal court to force his name onto the November ballot.

A Tuesday hearing is expected in a lawsuit Nader filed in U.S. District Court over a state law requiring people who collect petitions for candidates to live in Ohio.

That law violates the constitutional rights of registered voters who signed the petitions but whose names were discarded because the petition collector didn't live in the state, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Instead, the law is meant for "the sole convenience of the Secretary of State and local Boards" to meet procedural requirements for checking a nominating petition, the lawsuit said. -- Nader campaign: state law on signature gathering unconstitutional (AP via philly.com)

October 6, 2004

Maine Supreme Court hears appeal of Nader ballot status

AP reports: Moving on an expedited schedule, the state supreme court heard arguments Wednesday on the Maine Democratic Party leader´s appeal aimed at removing Ralph Nader from the Nov. 2 presidential ballot.

The court, which usually sits in Portland, came to Augusta to hear arguments so it can issue a ruling before next Tuesday´s statutory deadline.

State Democratic Chairwoman Dorothy Melanson appealed after a Superior Court judge ruled last week that state election officials followed legal procedure in allowing the consumer activist´s name to appear on Maine ballots.

Melanson´s case before the supreme court was narrowed to a single issue: whether documents showing that Nader is not enrolled in a political party in Maine should have been attached to each of the hundreds of petitions seeking to put his name on the ballot.

Michael Mahoney, her lawyer, said "unenrollment" notices are important to voters and should be visible to petition signers. -- Supreme court hears arguments in Nader ballot appeal (AP via MaineToday.com)

October 4, 2004

Nader on the Wisconsin ballot

AP reports: The state Supreme Court ordered Ralph Nader back on the Wisconsin ballot Thursday, ruling the longtime consumer activist had substantially met the requirements to go before the voters this fall as an independent presidential candidate.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin sued to knock Nader off the ballot, arguing he had failed to meet minimal standards required under state law to qualify as an independent candidate.

But the court voted unanimously to overturn a circuit judge's decision handed down this week that temporarily knocked Nader off the ballot. -- Nader back on ballot in Wisconsin, court rules (AP via Duluth News Tribune)

Hawaii to re-examine Nader petitions

The Honolulu Advertiser reported on Saturday: The state Office of Elections yesterday agreed to re-examine disputed petition signatures before determining whether independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader qualifies for the Hawai'i ballot in November.

Nader's supporters believe they have collected the 3,711 signatures necessary to get the consumer advocate on the ballot, but election officials initially ruled they came up short. A Nader representative will observe the recount, which will likely occur on Monday. -- State to re-examine Nader ballot petitions (Honolulu Advertiser)

Nader on the Arkansas ballot

The Arkansas News Bureau reports: Populist Party Ralph Nader can be on the Nov. 2 presidential ballot, a divided [Arkansas] state Supreme Court ruled late Friday.

The 4-3 decision reverses a Sept. 20 order by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox that removed Nader from the ballot. Fox ruled that the more than 1,000 people who signed petitions to place Nader's name on the ballot did not formally name him as "their" choice for president.

In Friday's ruling, the high court said Fox's interpretation of state election laws "leads not only to an absurd result, but also renders the provision unconstitutional."

"This unconstitutional reading of the petitioning provision at issue infringes upon one of the fundamental civil liberties of our democracy, that of the secret ballot," Chief Justice Betty C. Dickey wrote for the majority.

The state statute "does not state that an electorate name 'their' candidate for president or vice president," Dickey continues. "The statute only requires that the signer of the petition state their desire that the named candidates appear on the ballot." -- Nader should stay on ballot, court says (Arkansas News Bureau)

Nader sues Ohio

AP reports: Independent candidate Ralph Nader sued on Monday to have his name placed on the November ballot in Ohio, saying voter registration backlogs at a number of county elections boards may have led to the improper elimination of campaign petitions.

The Nader campaign's lawsuit against Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell seeks to force Blackwell to order county boards to update their voter registration records, then review the petitions submitted by Nader.

Blackwell ruled last month that Nader failed to collect the 5,000 signatures needed to appear on the ballot after forged signatures and petitions circulated by non-Ohioans left Nader short.

Monday's lawsuit focuses on 8,009 signatures rejected by county elections boards. Some of those signatures were rejected because they didn't belong to registered voters, others because they were on petitions thrown out altogether because they were circulated by non-Ohioans, the lawsuit said. -- Nader sues to be included on Ohio presidential ballot (AP via TheState.com)

September 30, 2004

Nader on the Wisconsin ballot

WisPolitics.com has the full text of the order from the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Here are the important holdings:

5. The court determines that this residency requirement is directory in nature.

6. Under the undisputed facts and circumstances of this case, and mindful of the importance of ballot access and voting, this court concludes that there has been substantial compliance by the petitioners regarding this requirement. See Wis.Stat. §§5.01(1) and 8.30(1).

September 29, 2004

Briefs filed in Nader litigation in Arkansas Supreme Court

The Fort Smith, Arkansas, Times Record reports: In briefs leading up to Thursday's arguments before the state Supreme Court, attorneys for the state Democratic Party on Tuesday asked the court to uphold a circuit judge's order keeping Ralph Nader off the Nov. 2 general election ballot, while Nader's lawyer said leaving the order intact would deprive Nader of his right to run for president.

Democratic Party lawyers said Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox was correct when he ruled that the people who signed petitions to get Nader on the ballot did not formally name him as their personal choice for president. ...

Fox “made much of the use of the possessive pronominal adjective ‘their’ preceding the object ‘candidate’ and ruled that the petition failed to comply with the requirement that the candidate named be “their candidates for president and vice president of every elector that signs the petition,” Hilburn wrote in the brief. ...

State Democratic Party attorney Robin Carroll argued that the circuit court judge’s ruling should be upheld because Nader supporters did not comply with the political group nominating process designed by the Legislature “and instead attempted an end run around Arkansas’ prohibition on independent candidates gaining access to the presidential ballot.” -- Briefs Filed In Nader Challenge (The Times Record - Fort Smith, Arkansas)

Wisconsin Supreme Court to hear Nader suit on Thursday

WisPolitics.com reports: The Wisconsin Supreme Court said it will hear oral arguments Thursday on the decision to kick independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader off Wisconsin's ballot.

Nader was knocked off the Wisconsin ballot Tuesday when Dane County Circuit Judge Michael Nowakowski reversed a state Elections Board ruling from last week.

In reaction, Nader attorney Robert Bernhoft filed an emergency petition with the state Supreme Court for the board to certify Nader and Peter Camejo as independent candidates for president and vice president, respectively. Democrats' response to that petition was due Wednesday at noon, but they received extra time to complete the filing.

Oral arguments before the Supreme Court are scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday. The court also delayed the Elections Board's ballot certification pending notice from the court. -- Supreme Court to Hear Nader Arguments Thursday (WisPolitics.com)

Nader's Pennsylvania manager describes his attempts to stop fraudulent signatures

AP reports: The last-minute frenzy to submit nominating petitions by the state's Aug. 2 deadline prevented Ralph Nader's campaign from closely reviewing them, Nader's state campaign coordinator testified Wednesday.

Coordinator Dan Martino said he lacked the staff or time to review the more than 52,000 signatures submitted, many of which are now being tossed out as Nader fights to stay on Pennsylvania's Nov. 2 presidential ballot.

Martino said he did what he could to weed out dubious signatures, once drawing large black X's over all but six of 110 names on a petition.

"I would say I crossed out 104 scribbles," Martino told a three-judge Commonwealth Court panel in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

He said he also witnessed paid signature collectors repeatedly signing each others' petitions - a practice that opposing lawyer Gregory Harvey called "round-robin forgeries" - and scolded them. -- Nader campaign manager describes frenzy to file petitions(AP via TimesLeader.com)

Indiana GOP tries a little creative movement -- and loses

William Groth, attorney for the Indiana Democratic Party, emailed: Thought you might be interested in these findings that were entered yesterday in litigation in which I represent the Indiana Democratic Party. The case involves a transparent attempt by the Indiana Republican Party to incentivize its nominated candidate in House District 46, Jeffrey Lee, to move himself, his wife and 3 children 15 miles across the county line so as to "vacate" the ballot slot and allow the party elites to replace him with the incumbent, Brooks Laplante, best known for the unpaid $10,000 fine imposed by the Indiana Election Commission for his violation of Indiana's campaing financing laws. The Repubs think this district, which includes Terre Haute, can't be won by Lee and that it may be the Democrats 51st seat, assuring that the Dems would retain the majority. The case has some mirror-like resemblance to the Repubs attempt in 1988 to argue that Evan Bayh had lost his residency in Indiana, but this time the shoe is on the other foot in that we are arguing that Lee never lost his domicile in the district and that any relocation on his part was only a temporary expedient to allow his party to replace him on the ballot.

September 28, 2004

Nader hearings in Pennsylvania plod along

The Philadelphia Daily News reports: Ralph Nader continued to cling to the Pennsylvania ballot yesterday as his nominating petitions were arduously examined in 13 courtrooms across the state.

The Reform Party candidate for president, running as an independent in Pennsylvania, submitted 47,000 signatures in August to get on the ballot. He needs 25,697 of them to be valid.

Democrats say that 85 percent of the signatures, many collected by homeless people in Philadelphia working for a Nader contractor, are flawed or forged. ...

Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese yesterday accused the Commonwealth Court of bias, calling its expected ruling a "foregone conclusion" that will be appealed to the state Supreme Court. -- Will lack of petitions finally knock Nader off? (Philadelphia Daily News)

Nader wins in Maine, stays on the ballot

AP reports: Maine Democrats lost a bid to keep independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's name off the Nov. 2 ballot as a judge upheld the state's petition review procedures.

``We expected logic and common sense to prevail, and they did,'' Nancy Oden, a Nader elector from Jonesboro, said after Superior Court Justice S. Kirk Studstrup's ruling was made public Tuesday.

Maine Democratic Party Chairwoman Dorothy Melanson had appealed to Superior Court after Secretary of State Dan Gwadosky brushed aside a challenge, ruling Nader's name should appear on the ballot. -- Judge rejects bid to keep Nader off Maine ballot (AP via BostonHerald.com)

Nader is on the New Mexico ballot

The Albuquerque Tribune Online reports: The state Supreme Court today ordered Ralph Nader's name to be placed on New Mexico's Nov. 2 ballot as an independent presidential candidate, turning back a Democratic challenge to his candidacy.

The court announced its decision after deliberating for about 90 minutes after oral arguments in the case this morning. Chief Justice Petra Maes said a written opinion would be issued later. ...

Three state Supreme Court justices disqualified themselves from the dispute. Justices Edward Chavez and Richard Bosson are seeking re-election, and Justice Pamela Minzner did not participate because one lawyer in the case works in an Albuquerque firm with her husband.

Court of Appeals Judges James Wechsler and Michael Bustamante and District Judge Thomas Fitch of Socorro heard the appeal along with Chief Justice Petra Maes and Justice Patricio Serna. -- Nader wins ballot spot (AP via Albuquerque Tribune Online)

Nader qualifies as write-in in Georgia

AP reports: Third-party candidate Ralph Nader - whose status in several states was decided Tuesday - won't be appearing on Georgia ballots in next month's presidential election.

A spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox said Tuesday that Nader supporters had contacted her office, but never submitted the just over 38,000 signatures that would have been required for him to appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

"They had inquired about how to go about it, but they never submitted anything," said Cox spokeswoman Cara Hodgson.

Instead, Hodgson said Nader has qualified in Georgia as a write-in candidate. Qualifying as such, which does not require signatures, means any votes written in for Nader will count. -- Nader won't appear on Georgia ballots (AP via Tallahassee.com)

Nader appeals loss in Wisconsin

WisPolitics.com reports: Presidential hopeful Ralph Nader was knocked off the Wisconsin ballot today when Dane County Circuit Judge Michael Nowakowski reversed a state Elections Board ruling from last week.

In reaction, Nader attorney Robert Bernhoft filed an emergency petition with the state Supreme Court for the board to certify Nader and Peter Camejo as independent candidates for president and vice president, respectively.

Nowakowski's ruling Tuesday would stop the Elections Board from notifying county clerks to include Nader's name on the ballot.

The state Democratic Party filed the suit Friday seeking to keep Nader off the ballot saying Nader didn't comply with a state law requiring presidential candidates to list 10 electors, each of whom cast ballots for the candidate in the Electoral College: one for each of Wisconsin's eight congressional districts and two at-large. -- Nader Immediately Appeals Decision Keeping Him Off Ballot (WisPolitics.com)

Nader off the Ohio ballot because of fraud

AP reports: Independent candidate Ralph Nader won't appear on Ohio's presidential ballot because forged signatures on petition forms and on petitions circulated by non-Ohioans left him short of the 5,000 required to qualify, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell ruled Tuesday.

Nader's campaign promised a fight to get back on the ballot. ...

Blackwell, a Republican, said Nader's backers wound up with 3,708 valid signatures.

They had turned in nearly 15,000 signatures, but just 6,464 were declared valid after review by local elections boards. An additional 2,756 were invalidated following testimony at a hearing last week at Blackwell's office. -- Blackwell says Nader off Ohio ballot (AP via SunHerald.com)

Nader loses in the US Supreme Court

AP reports: The [U.S.] Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a last-ditch bid to put Ralph Nader on Oregon's presidential ballot.

Nader supporters had asked the court last week to block Oregon from printing ballots that lack Nader's name. The court declined, although Justice Stephen Breyer noted that he supported the stay. ...

Last week, the Oregon Supreme Court sided with state election officials who found flawed petitions left Nader short of the 15,306 signatures needed to put him on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Richard Hasen, an election law expert at Loyola Law School, said that disputes over petition signatures are common. "These kind of bread and butter issues are not the kind of thing the court gets involved in," he said. -- Nader supporters lose Supreme Court appeal (AP via OregonLive.com)

September 27, 2004

Wisconsin ballots on hold till tomorrow (title corrected)

AP reports: A Dane County judge Monday temporarily forbid the [Wisconsin] state Elections Board from telling county clerks which presidential candidates to list for this fall's election until he decides whether independent Ralph Nader should be on the ballot.

Dane County Judge Michael Nowakowski said he would issue his ruling on Nader's candidacy Tuesday afternoon. Until then, he forbid the Elections Board from formally notifying county clerks which presidential candidates should be on the ballot.

Elections Board executive director Kevin Kennedy said clerks will have enough time to get ballots printed if they receive word Tuesday whether Nader is on the ballot. Still, appeals by either side could complicate the process.

The state Democratic Party filed suit Friday seeking to keep Nader off the ballot, claiming he did not meet the necessary requirements to qualify. Some Democrats still blame Nader for President Bush's victory four years ago and fear he could siphon votes away from their nominee, John Kerry. Democrat Al Gore won Wisconsin four years ago by 5,708 votes while Nader received 94,070. -- Judge puts hold on presidential ballot while deciding Nader case (AP via DuluthSuperior.com)

Nader hearings start in Pennsylvania

AP reports: A Pennsylvania court Monday opened eight simultaneous hearings across the state on Ralph Nader's nomination papers, while a Nader lawyer attacked a central premise of the review by arguing that officials should accept the signatures of people who are not registered to vote.

Nader, who is on the ballot in more than 30 states, is trying to fend off a challenge to more than 30,000 of his 47,000 signatures as he seeks to run for president in Pennsylvania as an independent.

In a motion filed in Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg, Nader attorney Basil C. Culyba said state law allows only registered voters to sign the nominating petitions for major-party candidates, but permits any "qualified elector" to sign the nomination papers of independent candidates like Nader.

Culyba, a Washington, D.C., lawyer brought in after Nader's original Pennsylvania lawyer quit last week, reportedly after a dispute over money and strategy, said a qualified elector is anyone who will be 18 and a Pennsylvania resident by the Nov. 2 election. -- Nader challenge focus of statewide court hearings in Pa. (AP via PennLive.com)

Nader still not on the North Carolina ballot

AP reports: Presidential candidate Ralph Nader's chances for getting his name on the Nov. 2 ballot in North Carolina are dwindling.

A federal judge has rejected motions filed by the Nader campaign that sought to have his and running-mate Peter Miguel Camejo's names placed on the ballot as unaffiliated candidates. They also sought the halting of ballots being printed without their names. ...

In August, a federal judge struck down the state's requirements to be listed on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate. In response, Nader's campaign asked the State Board of Elections to add his name to the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate.

Without a new law authorizing new ballot requirements, the federal courts have the authority to list his name on the ballot, Nader's attorneys argued. They said because Nader is often seen as the most viable independent candidate for president, the courts should exercise that authority.

In general, the judge rejected Nader's motions for preliminary and temporary restraining order because he can still run as a write-in candidate. Britt also said Nader made minimal efforts to get on the ballot then tried to resolve his concerns in the "11th hour." -- Judge's Ruling Hurts Nader's Bid For Getting On N.C. Ballot (AP via WRAL.com)

Nader loses again in Illinois

Marci Oddi has slapped me upside the head that I missed Nader's loss in the Seventh Circuit last week. Here is an excerpt from the decision as reported on the Indiana Law Blog:

Ralph Nader v. John Keith, et al. (ND Ill.)

Before POSNER, WOOD, and EVANS, Circuit Judges.
POSNER, Circuit Judge. Ralph Nader, joined by his campaign committee and two registered Illinois voters who support his candidacy, brought this suit to require the State of Illinois to place his name on the ballot for the forthcoming Presidential election. He appeals to us from the district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction that would order the state to do that. We have expedited the parties’ briefing and our consideration of the appeal because of the short time remaining to the election. * * *

By waiting as long as he did to sue, and despite the strenuous efforts by the district court and this court to expedite the litigation, Nader created a situation in which any remedial order would throw the state’s preparations for the election into turmoil. * * * At argument Nader’s lawyer offered no reason for the delay in filing the suit. * * *

So, all things considered, we cannot say that the district judge abused his discretion in refusing to issue a preliminary injunction. AFFIRMED.

September 26, 2004

Nader stays on the New Hampshire ballot

Update
AP reports: New Hampshire's Democratic Party announced Saturday night it will not appeal a Ballot Law Commission decision placing Ralph Nader on the state's Nov. 2 ballot. -- Democrats Won't Appeal Nader Petition Case (AP via TheState.com)

====

AP reports: The state Ballot Law Commission voted 5-0 yesterday to keep independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The commission rejected a Democratic challenge to some of Nader's petition signatures. ...

Emily Rice, who represented the state Democratic party, argued that Nader's campaign workers collected petition signatures this year through widespread fraud and deceit. She said many people were deceived about what they were signing.

State law makes no provision for appeals from the commission's decisions. But lawyers for Nader said they expected Democrats to ask the state Supreme Court to consider the issue. -- State Ballot Law Commission says Nader can stay in mix (AP via TheUnionLeader.com)

September 25, 2004

New Mexico federal court decision on Nader case delayed

Albuquerque Journal reports: A federal judge on Friday delayed ruling on a lawsuit to keep presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the New Mexico ballot, saying he would wait for a state Supreme Court decision next week.

"I'll put out an opinion after the Supreme Court does, if it's necessary," Senior U.S. District Court Judge John Edwards Conway said.

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday is scheduled to hear an appeal from Nader supporters seeking to keep him on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Nader was kicked off the New Mexico ballot earlier this week when a state District Court judge ruled he can't run as an independent presidential candidate here while running with minor party affiliations in other states. For instance, the longtime consumer advocate is a Reform Party candidate in Florida. ...

Conway also referred to the earlier state District Court decision. "I can tell you now I don't think much of that statute," he said. -- Nader Ruling Delayed, Fed Judge Waiting on N.M. Justices (ABQjournal.com)

Naderites appeal in Oregon

Update:
A later edition of this AP story makes it clear that the "Supreme Court" is the U.S. Supreme Court.

===

AP reports: A group of Ralph Nader supporters asked the Supreme Court on Friday to keep the presidential candidate on Oregon's general election ballot.

In a late evening filing, the supporters asked the high court to review Oregon's decision to remove Nader because of flawed voter petition sheets. They argued that Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, a Democrat, improperly used unwritten rules to decide the validity of the petitions.

"His actions in applying unwritten rules, without notice or opportunity for the Nader campaign to comply with those rules, violated the right" to free speech and due process, the 52-page filing argues.

On Wednesday, the Oregon Supreme Court unanimously upheld Bradbury's determination that flawed petitions left Nader 218 signatures short of the 15,306 needed to put him on the Nov. 2 ballot, saying Bradbury acted within his authority. -- Supporters turn to high court to keep Nader on state’s ballot (AP via StatesmanJournal.com)

Wisconsin Dems sue to have a Nader-free ballot

Update:
AP reports: The state Democratic Party filed a lawsuit Friday asking a judge to throw independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader off Wisconsin’s ballot.

The lawsuit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court, requests emergency review of a state Elections Board decision to leave Nader on the ballot. A hearing was set for Monday. -- Dems to file suit to kick Nader off Wis. ballot (AP via gmtoday.com)

=====

AP reports: The Wisconsin Democratic Party said Thursday it will file a lawsuit in a last-ditch attempt to keep independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader off the state ballot.

The state Elections Board earlier this week rejected a complaint the party filed claiming Nader failed to meet requirements under Wisconsin statutes to qualify for the ballot.

The suit Democrats plan to file Friday raises a similar issue, said party spokesman Seth Boffeli. He provided an advance copy to The Associated Press. -- Wis. Democrats to sue to knock Nader off ballot (AP via SunHerald.com)

Nader will not appeal Virginia decision not to put him on ballot

AP reports: Ralph Nader will not appeal a decision by the State Board of Elections to keep his independent candidacy off the presidential ballot in Virginia.

Nader instead plans to ask supporters to write in his name on the ballot, the campaign said Saturday.

Nader is on the ballot in more than 30 states and is suing for ballot access in several others.

A count by the Virginia elections panel found that Nader fell well short of the 10,000 signatures of registered voters needed to qualify as a presidential candidate. Although his campaign filed more than 13,000 names, only 7,342 were qualified, the board concluded. -- Campaign: Nader will not appeal Virginia ballot ruling (AP via dailypress.com)

Nader roundup

GoKeever has a very detailed roundup on the status of Nader's ballot access quest around the country. Take a look at Daily Kos :: Nader Ballot News Roundup: 269 or Bust!.

September 23, 2004

Cree Indian from Canada claims US citizenship and right to run for office in Hawaii

The Maui News reports: Legislative candidate Cort Gallup is facing a formal challenge to his eligibility to run for office, on the grounds that he is not a U.S. citizen.

Gallup, who was born in Canada in the Cree tribe, said he believes a federal law that allows Native Americans to cross the border and live in the United States gives him the right to citizenship and the right to hold public office.

"I am a U.S. citizen because I am a Native American," he said. "I was born as a native of America. Look at the word: 'Native American.'"

But Kihei retiree Steve Riford, who filed the formal challenge, said that while Gallup does seem to be a legal resident of the United States, his status as a Native American does not appear to automatically make him a citizen. -- Candidate’s eligibility for office questioned (Maui News)

Nader's Pennsylvania lawyer quits

AP reports: The lawyer representing independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader in his bid to get on Pennsylvania's ballot asked a court for permission to withdraw from the case Thursday, saying the campaign didn't have enough money to pay him.

Samuel C. Stretton, who earlier said he was offering the Nader campaign a discount from his usual fee, said there were also disagreements over strategy as well as finances, but declined to elaborate.

Nader campaign spokesman Kevin Zeese said a Washington-based lawyer would take over the case.

Stretton's resignation came shortly before a marathon set of 10 hearings in 10 separate venues scheduled for Monday. He had argued that the simultaneous hearings and orders to rapidly examine more than 30,000 Nader petition signatures placed an undue burden on a low-budget presidential campaign. -- Nader's ballot-access lawyer seeks permission to withdraw (AP via philly.com)

Naderites sue in New Mexico federal court

The Albuquerque Tribune reports: Three voters who want a chance to vote for Ralph Nader took their desires to federal court today.

Attorney Paul Kienzle, who is also representing Nader in an appeal before the New Mexico Supreme Court, said he filed the lawsuit in Albuquerque naming New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron. ..

A hearing on the matter could come as early as Friday morning, Kienzle said. He said the case had been assigned to U.S. District Judge John Conway.

The case asks Vigil-Giron to preserve the estimated 25,000 ballots that have been printed with Nader's name on them and to send them to voters. -- Three sue over vote (Albuquerque Tribune Online)

Thanks to Richard Winger for the link.

September 22, 2004

Nader appeals in New Mexico

The Albuquerque Journal reports: Ralph Nader has asked the state Supreme Court to place him on the general election ballot as an independent candidate for president.

Nader's campaign filed an appeal Wednesday to a judge's decision that knocked him off the ballot.

State District Judge Theresa Baca ruled Monday that Nader didn't qualify under state law as an independent candidate in New Mexico because he's running in other states as the nominee for minor parties, including the Reform Party. -- Nader Files Appeal To Get Back on Ballot (ABQjournal)

Nader off in Oregon

Bend.com reports: The Oregon Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned a lower-court ruling that would have put independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the Nov. 2 general election ballot, backing the secretary of state's decision to keep him off.

Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, clearly gratified by the court ruling, said the court upheld the authority of the secretary of state to use reasonable rules to prevent fraud in the petition process.

The Court's ruling means that Nader and vice-presidential candidate Sandra Kucera will not appear on the ballot. ...

In considering the numbering and signature rules that govern petition sheets, the state's high court found that "the review procedures were not, as the trial court's comments appear to suggest, yet another layer of unannounced legal barriers. They were, instead, the methodology by which the Secretary of State enforced existing legal standards." -- Bend.com - News Article "Nader off Oregon ballot; high court backs Bradbury (Bend.com)

September 21, 2004

Nader on the Wisconsin ballot

TheMilwaukeeChannel.com reports: The state Elections Board has decided to keep independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the Wisconsin ballot.

A split board voted Tuesday to reject two motions seeking to kick Nader (pictured, right) off the ballot.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin filed a complaint with the Elections Board earlier this month.

Democrats argued that Nader's petitions didn't include an elector from the 7th Congressional District, and there has to be one from every congressional district in the state.

Nader's attorneys argued that there wasn't one because the boundaries were redrawn, moving that person from the district. The board decided that wasn't enough to keep Nader off the ballot. -- Nader Will Appear On Wisconsin Ballot (TheMilwaukeeChannel.com)

According to this site, the congressional redistricting plan was adopted in 2001. If there has not been a later plan, then what kind of excuse can Nader's backers have for being three years out of date? Or am I missing something?

September 20, 2004

Nader off the Arkansas ballot

AP reports: A circuit judge ordered third-party presidential candidate Ralph Nader's name taken off the Arkansas ballot Monday.

Circuit Judge Timothy Fox concluded that a political group attempting to certify Nader's name for the ballot did not meet state criteria to get a candidate on the ballot.

Fox ordered Secretary of State Charlie Daniels to immediately recall the list of candidates so that Nader and running mate Peter Camejo no longer appear.

The judge ruled that supporters of the former Green Party presidential candidate didn't follow Arkansas' rules for nominating Nader as the candidate of their political group -- the Populist Party of Arkansas. Official forms from the Secretary of State did not have a space for identifying the party name. -- Nader's Name Stricken From Arkansas Ballot (AP via TheHometownChannel.com)

Nader on the Maryland ballot

The Washington Post reports: Presidential candidate Ralph Nader secured a spot on Maryland's November ballot today as the state's highest court ruled that elections officials improperly rejected hundreds of signatures on petitions filed in support of his candidacy.

The Court of Appeals ordered that 542 disputed signatures be accepted, giving the Nader campaign and his Populist Party five more signatures than were required to win a spot on the ballot. Those signatures had been rejected because they belonged to voters residing in counties other than the counties listed on the petitions they signed, a decision the Nader campaign challenged in court.

State Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone, a Democrat, said today that her office had "no vested interest" in the outcome of the case and that the ruling would not be appealed. A spokesman for the Nader campaign, Kevin Zeese, said that "the court made the right decision" and that Nader plans to campaign in Maryland on Friday.

Nader's campaign filed petitions Aug. 2 to create a Populist Party, but Lamone and local elections officials invalidated about one-third of the signatures. The rejection left Nader supporters 537 short of the 10,000 valid signatures needed to qualify a new party for the ballot. -- Court Forces Maryland to Place Nader on Ballot (washingtonpost.com)

Nader off the New Mexico ballot again

AP reports: A judge Monday blocked Ralph Nader from appearing on New Mexico's ballot in a legal and political tug-of-war that has kept the candidate's status in limbo for days.

State District Judge Theresa Baca ruled that Nader does not qualify as an independent candidate in New Mexico because he is running as the nominee for minor parties in other states.

"He is not without party affiliation," Baca said.

The judge did not rule on another point of contention in the lawsuit filed by state Democrats -- whether Nader's nominating petitions had enough valid signatures of registered voters. -- On Again, Off Again: New Judge Blocks Nader From N.M. Ballot (AP via ABQjournal.com)

Judge York recused herself after a ruling barring Nader, and Judge entered pretty much the same order.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court voids one order, remands case for hearings in Commonwealth Court

AP reports: Pennsylvania's highest court Monday kept alive Ralph Nader's bid to run as an independent candidate for president in the state, and a lower court scheduled more than a dozen hearings in courtrooms across the state next week to review challenges to Nader's nominating petitions.

In a one-page order, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned a state Commonwealth Court ruling barring Nader from running as an independent because he had accepted the nomination of the national Reform Party as its candidate in some other states.

Shortly afterward, the Commonwealth Court sent an order to lawyers in the case outlining an ambitious schedule of hearings in Philadelphia, Doylestown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Greensburg and Harrisburg to consider challenges to Nader's petitions in 48 counties.

The court ordered lawyers for both sides to meet as soon as possible with elections officials from most of the counties to compare the signatures on Nader's petition with voter registration records. Slightly different procedures were set for the Philadelphia and Allegheny county reviews. -- Top Pa. court gives hope to Nader (AP via phillyBurbs.com)

September 19, 2004

Briefs in Nader's Florida case

Here are the briefs in the Florida Nader case, decided on Friday:

Brief of Secretary of State Hood

Brief of the Reform Party

Brief of the Appellees (Black)

Brief of the Appellees (Democratic Party)

September 17, 2004

Ohio Dems attack Nader

The Columbus Dispatch reports: Democrats intensified their attack on Ralph Nader's bid to get on the Ohio's presidential ballot yesterday, accusing his campaign of "the most systematic and widespread fraud the state has ever seen."

Andrew B. Clubok, a Washington lawyer representing Democratic opponents to Nader's petition, said if the challenges are upheld, Nader would fall short of having enough valid signatures to qualify for the Ohio ballot on Nov. 2.

Clubok, one of a trio of lawyers at a Statehouse news conference yesterday, charged that the Nader campaign utilized "a bunch of out-of-state con men" to gather Ohioans' signatures to get him on the ballot. -- Democrats say Nader bid rife with fraud (The Columbus Dispatch)

Nader off the New Mexico ballot

KOB-TV in Albuquerque reports: A state district judge in Albuquerque has ruled that Ralph Nader will not appear on New Mexico's general election ballot as an independent presidential candidate.

State District Judge Wendy York ruled on Friday that Nader is ineligible to appear on the ballot. She said that under New Mexico law, Nader cannot run as an independent candidate here while running under political parties such as the Reform Party in other states.

The state Democratic Party, who filed the lawsuit, also contended Nader didn't submit enough valid signatures of registered voters to qualify for the ballot. York rejected that challenge. -- Judge pulls Nader off ballot (KOBTV.com)

Nader on the Florida ballot

Reuters reports: Florida's highest court today ruled that Reform Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader must be allowed to compete in the 2004 election in the state, delivering a possible boost to President George W Bush's re-election chances.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled on a challenge by the Democratic party against Nader being on the ballot on the grounds the Reform Party, once led by maverick billionaire Ross Perot, was not a genuine national political organisation.

The court said Florida law was not clear enough to justify refusing Nader access to the ballot.

"In making our decision in this case, we are guided by the overriding constitutional principle in favor of ballot access," the Supreme Court said in its ruling. -- In boost for Bush, Florida court puts Nader on ballot (Reuters via New Zealand Herald)

September 16, 2004

You can't tell the players without a program

Politics1 has posted a Presidency 2004 Ballot Access page so you tell who is on the ballot and where.

Thanks Ron, and happy Rosh Hashanah to you.

September 15, 2004

Nader on the Minnesota ballot

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader will be on the Nov. 2 ballot, the Minnesota Secretary of State's office ruled Tuesday.

The office certified that Nader and running mate Peter Camejo had enough signatures to qualify. His supporters, needing 2,000 signatures, filed 4,781 on Monday. -- Nader secures place on ballot in Minnesota (StarTribune.com)

Nader, Libertarians, and Constitituion on Alabama ballot

AP reports: Presidential candidates Ralph Nader and Michael Badnarik have secured spots on Alabama's general election ballot, which gives voters a choice of five people.

The secretary of state's office announced late Tuesday night that workers had finished verifying voter petitions from both campaigns. State law required independent and third-party candidates to submit the signatures of 5,000 registered Alabama voters by Sept. 7, and their campaigns turned in petitions on the final afternoon.

Badnarik is the candidate of the Libertarian Party, but under state law he will appear on Alabama's ballot without a label.

The Constitution Party turned in signatures for its candidate, Michael Peroutka, last month and won approval to get him on the ballot. Like Badnarik, his name will appear without a party label. -- Nader, Badnarik approved for Alabama ballot (AP via AL.com)

Nader wins in Washington

AP reports: Ralph Nader is back on the presidential ballot in Washington state.

The independent presidential candidate gathered more than 1,000 signatures from voters at conventions this summer. The Secretary of State's office determined Nader met the requirements to get on the ballot.

The state Democratic Party and an Olympia attorney challenged that decision in court. A Pierce County judge on Wednesday ruled that the Secretary of State's office did follow state laws in putting Nader on the ballot. -- (AP via kgw.com)

Oregon appeals Nader's ballot inclusion

AP reports: State officials filed a legal appeal Tuesday seeking to overturn a judge's ruling that independent contender Ralph Nader's name must appear on Oregon's presidential ballot.

The challenge was filed on behalf of Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, who earlier had concluded that irregularities with Nader's petition campaign should keep him off the ballot.

Last week, Marion County Circuit Judge Paul Lipscomb overturned Bradbury's ruling, saying that he had used unwritten rules to disqualify some of Nader's petitions, thus leaving Nader short of signatures.

State Elections Director John Lindback said Lipscomb's ruling opens the door to petition fraud, and that the secretary of state must have latitude to interpret rules to deal with potential fraud. -- State files appeal over Nader's inclusion on presidential ballot (AP via RegisterGuard.com)

Vermont Greens will back Nader

Socialist Worker Online reports: THE VERMONT Green Party voted last weekend not to ratify the national party's presidential nominee David Cobb--and instead endorse Ralph Nader's independent campaign. That means that Cobb and running mate Patricia LaMarche will not appear on the Vermont ballot.

The state party's nominating convention endorsed Nader, but he won't be on the ballot as the Green candidate, either--at Nader's request. Instead, Nader is seeking to qualify as an independent.

The move by the Vermont Greens reflects deep dissatisfaction among members over the outcome of the party's national convention in Milwaukee in June. There, Cobb won the party's presidential nomination, but by a very narrow margin over supporters of Nader and his running mate Peter Camejo, a leading Green Party member.

Pro-Nader Greens say that Cobb--by exploiting a delegate structure that gave disproportionate weight to small states with weak Green Parties--was able to dominate the convention even though he won fewer than 15 percent of the votes cast where open primaries were held. -- Vermont Greens support Nader (SocialistWorker.org)

Nader on, off, on the Florida ballot -- at least till Friday

AP reports: Ralph Nader can stay on Florida's ballot, at least until the end of the week when the state Supreme Court will make a final decision on his attempt to run for president as the Reform Party nominee.

The high court's decision Wednesday came about an hour after Circuit Judge P. Kevin Davey ordered that Nader be removed from the November ballot because the Reform Party isn't a legitimate party under state law.

The state Supreme Court will hear arguments on the issue Friday, and said it would settle the controversy before a Saturday deadline for mailing absentee ballots overseas. ...

Democrats have sued to keep Nader off the ballot, arguing tthe Reform Party is no longer a legitimate national party and that Florida election laws requiring minor candidates to qualify by petition or through a nominating convention weren't followed. -- Judge Orders Nader Name Off Fla. Ballot (AP via Tallahassee.com)

September 14, 2004

New Hampshire Dems challenge Nader

AP reports: Democrats filed a formal challenge yesterday to keep presidential candidate Ralph Nader off the state ballot, alleging widespread fraud and deceit in his petition signatures.

"We know there are people whose signatures were forged; we know people were lied to when they were approached with these petitions," said Kathy Sullivan, state Democratic Party chairwoman. "The integrity of the ballot process must be protected."

Sullivan and three voters filed the challenge at the state Ballot Law Commission, which has scheduled a Sept. 24 hearing for two allegedly forged signatures Sullivan complained about last week. -- Formal petition is filed against Nader (AP via ConcordMonitor.com)

Nader nominated by Independence Party in South Carolina

AP reports: Consumer advocate Ralph Nader will be on the presidential ballot in South Carolina in November.

Nader was approved by the South Carolina Election Commission to represent the Independence Party, the offshoot of the Reform Party made popular by Ross Perot in the 1990s.

Nader was nominated about two weeks ago by the state chapter.

"We reconvened our convention and nominated him," said Wayne Griffin of Greer, state party chairman. "We had been in contact with the Nader people this summer about offering him the line (ballot space) for him to run." -- Nader will be on South Carolina ballot (AP via TheState.com)

Nader loses in Maryland court

AP reports: A state judge on Tuesday rejected Ralph Nader's bid to run for president in Maryland under the banner of a new Populist Party.

Judge Philip Caroom agreed with the decision by state election officials that more than 500 signatures on petitions collected by Nader supporters could not be counted because the voters did not live in the county named on the petition.

Kevin Zeese, spokesman for the Nader campaign in Washington, said an appeal of Caroom's decision was likely.

"It leads to the strange result that we collected enough signatures of registered voters but are still not allowed on the ballot," Zeese said. "I think it's definitely an issue that should be appealed to make ballot access easier not only for our campaign but for future campaigns." -- Nader Loses Bid to Make Md. Ballot (AP via washingtonpost.com)

Federal judge refuses to hear Reform Party's case in Florida

AP reports: A federal judge Tuesday declined to get involved in the legal battle over Ralph Nader and the Florida ballot, clearing the way for a key hearing in state court Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Stephan Mickle issued an order late Tuesday afternoon refusing to take the case. The Reform Party had moved for the transfer, the state Democrat Party had opposed it. -- Federal Judge Sends Nader Case Back To State Court (AP via nbc6.net)

September 13, 2004

Nader sues to get on Idaho ballot

AP reports: Supporters of independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader asked a state judge on Monday to order Idaho to include Nader's name on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The suit filed in 4th District Court maintained that 897 names on petitions to qualify Nader for the ballot were disqualified as not of registered voters, even though the Nader campaign found the same names listed on computer database of registered voters. ...

In Idaho, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa announced on Aug. 24 that Nader supporters collected only 4,388 valid signatures, as verified by county clerks, when 5,016 were required to gain a spot on the general election ballot.

Nader attorney Matthew Campbell told the court that the additional 897 signatures determined by the campaign to be valid but disqualified by the clerks would be sufficient to put Nader on the ballot. -- Nader backers ask court to order independent on Idaho ballot (AP via kgw.com)

Nader sues to get on Maryland ballot

AP reports: A state judge said he expects to rule Tuesday on a request by Ralph Nader's campaign to put him on the Maryland ballot in November as the presidential candidate of the Populist Party.

Nader supporters filed petitions to create a new party, but state and local election officials invalidated about one-third of the signatures, leaving his supporters 537 short of the 10,000 needed to qualify a new party for the ballot.

During a three-hour hearing today, lawyers for the state and Nader sparred over whether the state illegally rejected signatures of voters who were registered but did not live in the county named at the top of the petitions they signed.

There was a disagreement on how many signatures were involved -- 618 according to Nader's lawyer and 542 according to the state. But either number would be enough to qualify Nader for the ballot. -- Nader asks judge to put him on Maryland ballot (AP via baltimoresun.com)

"Nader back on Florida ballot -- for now"

AP reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader was back on Florida's ballot Monday as a candidate for the Reform Party - but his slot was shaky. ...

The state's top elections official directed local elections supervisors to include Nader's name after she appealed a court order to the contrary.

Although Circuit Judge Kevin Davey ordered Secretary of State Glenda Hood last week to remove Nader's name, her appeal Monday to the 1st District Court of Appeal suspended that order.

However, Davey has the power to reimpose his order and the state Democratic Party, which had challenged Nader's placement on the ballot, immediately asked him to hold an emergency hearing to do just that. -- Nader back on Florida ballot -- for now (AP via The News-Press)

September 9, 2004

Michigan Dems file FEC complaint over GOP help to Nader

AP reports: The Michigan Democratic Party has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over the petition drive that put Ralph Nader on the Nov. 2 ballot as an independent candidate for president.

About 45,000 of the 50,000 signatures collected for Nader were collected by people with ties to the Michigan Republican Party, Democrats have said.

The value of that work exceeded $5,000, Democrats say, which they say would be a violation of election law regulating campaign contributions. Nader and the Republican Party should be fined, and Nader should not be eligible for presidential campaign matching funds because he failed to report the contributions, Michigan Democratic Party Executive Chairman Mark Brewer said.

"None of this gets him off the ballot. That piece is done," Brewer said Thursday. "But there could be fines that would affect both Republicans and the Nader campaign." -- Michigan Democrats continue protest over Nader candidacy (AP via freep.com)

Nader cannot get stay of Pennsylvania order

AP reports: A state Commonwealth Court panel on Thursday refused to stay its order blocking Ralph Nader from the state's presidential ballot.

Nader's Pennsylvania lawyer requested the stay pending his appeal to the state Supreme Court, but the three-judge panel said in a sharply worded decision that he had failed to make his case.

Last week, the panel upheld a challenge to Nader's candidacy, saying he forfeited his right to run as an independent in Pennsylvania when he accepted the nomination of the national Reform Party in May. The Supreme Court has directed lawyers for both sides to file their briefs on the appeal by Friday. ...

The panel said Nader's lawyer, Samuel Stretton, failed to show there is a strong likelihood that Nader would ultimately prevail and failed to establish that Nader would suffer irreparable harm if the stay were not granted. -- Court refuses to stay order keeping Nader off ballot (AP via Philly.com)

Nader on the Oregon ballot

AP reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's name should appear on Oregon's ballot this fall, a Marion County Circuit Court judge ruled Thursday, overturning a decision by the state's Democratic secretary of state.

Nader supporters had turned in more than 18,000 signatures, but Secretary of State Bill Bradbury last week invalidated several thousand because of irregularities on petition sheets. That left Nader 218 signatures short of the 15,306 needed to put him on the Nov. 2 ballot, prompting a lawsuit by his supporters.

Nader backers had accused Bradbury of using technicalities to keep Nader off the ballot, because Bradbury is an open supporter of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. Democrats fear Nader's candidacy could draw votes from Kerry and tip the election to President Bush.

State Elections Director John Lindback denied that state officials had applied different rules to Nader than they had to other candidates. -- Judge puts Nader on ballot (AP via kgw.com)

Nader probably off the Florida ballot

AP reports: Ralph Nader is well on his way to being kicked off the Florida ballot after a judge ruled that Democrats have a good chance of winning their case against the 2000 presidential election spoiler.

Circuit Judge Kevin Davey issued a temporary order late Wednesday night preventing Secretary of State Glenda Hood from certifying Nader's place on the ballot. He strongly indicated Thursday that that order would become permanent, saying he wouldn't have issued the temporary order if he thought Nader and running mate Peter Camejo properly qualified for the ballot.

"I'm quite confident in the ruling. There's at least 15 reasons as to why they won't qualify, at least 15 that I counted up," Davey said. "If it was one or two, I'd be worried about it, but there's a whole lot of reasons Mr. Nader and Mr. Camejo aren't going to appear on the ballot in Florida."

Hood's office sent a certified ballot to elections supervisors Thursday without Nader's name, but including a memo stating that the list of presidential candidates may change. Her office is pressuring Davey to act quickly on the lawsuit because absentee ballots to military and other citizens overseas must be mailed by Sept. 18. That means printing must begin almost immediately, said Department of State lawyer Richard Perez. -- Judge delays certification of Nader on Florida ballot (AP via Bradenton.com)

September 8, 2004

Nader files petitions in New Mexico

The Albuquerque Journal reports: Ralph Nader's campaign on Tuesday turned in signatures of an estimated 31,000 New Mexico voters to try to get on the state's general election ballot as an independent candidate for president.

The Nader campaign is required to submit 14,527 valid signatures of registered voters to qualify for the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

"There's no way we're not going to make it," said Carol Miller, who served as New Mexico's petition coordinator for the Nader campaign. -- Nader Petitions Go to State (ABQjournal.com)

Nader files petitions in Wisconsin

AP reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader filed some 4,000 signatures with Wisconsin election officials Tuesday, twice the number needed to qualify for the state ballot.

Still, Nader's Wisconsin field director Bill Linville said the campaign expects someone to challenge the nomination papers before Friday's deadline, a move Democrats have used in other states to keep the consumer activist off the ballot. ...

[Democratic] Party spokesman Seth Boffeli said it was unlikely the party would challenge the nomination papers because of the difficulty in proving more than 2,000 signatures Nader turned in were invalid.

Linville said the campaign had already scrutinized each signature to ensure it would stand up to review in anticipation of a challenge. -- Nader files signatures to qualify for Wisconsin ballot (AP via GMtoday.com)

Maine Secretary of State leaves Nader on the ballot

AP reports: Maine´s secretary of state ruled Wednesday that Ralph Nader´s name should stay on ballots in Maine as an independent candidate for president in November.

In affirming a recommendation by a staff hearing officer, Secretary of State Dan Gwadosky rejected challenges to ballot listings for Nader and running mate Peter Camejo that had been brought by two Democratic activists, including Maine Democratic Party Chairwoman Dorothy Melanson.

The challengers maintained that the Nader campaign had failed to comply with some of Maine´s ballot access requirements. -- Maine secretary of state affirms Nader´s place on ballot (AP via MaineToday.com)

West Virginia AG argues against Nader's candidacy

AP reports: The Attorney General's office has asked the state Supreme Court to block a lower court ruling that allows independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's name to appear on West Virginia's November ballot.

The justices were expected to consider the request this week, court spokeswoman Michelle Mensore said Wednesday.

Last week, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman rejected the state's argument that Nader's ballot petitions should be invalidated because workers hired to obtain signatures from registered voters violated state law or misled people into signing the petitions. ...

"It is clear that a significant likelihood of harm will result to the State and the public's interest in the fair and honest conduct of elections if the plaintiff is directed to place defendant's name on the ballot where defendant utterly failed to comply with statutory requirements of nominating petitions,'' said the petition filed last Friday. -- West Virginia news in brief (AP via The Charleston Gazette)

Nader's court case in Oregon

AP reports: A judge weighing whether Ralph Nader should be on the presidential ballot in Oregon said the state seems inconsistent in applying rules for independent candidates.

Marion Circuit Judge Paul Lipscomb made the comment Wednesday during a hearing on a lawsuit by supporters of Nader. They seek to overturn Secretary of State Bill Bradbury's decision to disqualify Nader from the ballot because of petitioning errors.

Lipscomb said he would issue a ruling Thursday.

Nader supporters turned in more than 18,000 signatures, but Bradbury last week invalidated several thousand because of irregularities on petition sheets. That left Nader 218 signatures short of the 15,306 needed to put him on the Nov. 2 ballot. -- Judge weighs Nader's ballot bid (AP via kgw.com)

September 7, 2004

Minnesota secretary of state seeks removal of fugitive from ballot

AP reports: Minnesota's secretary of state asked the Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday to keep an alleged fugitive off the ballot in a congressional primary.

Attorney General Mike Hatch, on behalf of Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, argued that Jack Shepard is a convicted felon and therefore ineligible to appear on the ballot as a GOP candidate for the 4th District seat held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum.

The secretary of state certified Shepard to appear on the ballot before she learned that Shepard was a fugitive felon, Hatch wrote. Shepard was convicted of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1979 and became a fugitive after failing to comply with the terms of his parole, the attorney general said. ...

The Dakota, Ramsey and Washington county attorneys filed a memo Tuesday elaborating on a petition they filed last week opposing Kiffmeyer's attempt to take Shepard off the ballot. They argued that Kiffmeyer doesn't have the authority to decertify Shepard. They said that would require a court order.

And they argued that the controlling law is the U.S. Constitution, which says the only qualifications required to run for Congress are that an individual must be at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for seven years, and be a resident of the state on election day. They said the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that neither Congress nor the states have the power to impose additional qualifications. -- Kiffmeyer asks Supreme Court to keep alleged fugitive off ballot (AP via TwinCities.com)

Nader on the Mississippi ballot

AP reports: Reform Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo will appear on Mississippi's November 2 ballot.

The state Board of Election Commissioners on Tuesday rejected a challenge to Nader and his running mate, Peter Camejo, brought by the Mississippi Democratic Party.

Sam Begley, an attorney representing the Democratic Party, had challenged the legitimacy of the Reform Party. He said the party was no longer in existence and that it had not held a national political party convention to nominate the candidates. -- Nader Will Appear on State Ballot (AP via wdam.com)

Nader, Constitution and Libertarian parties file in Kentucky

AP reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's campaign filed paperwork with state election officials Tuesday to get him on Kentucky's general election ballot.

With about 10 minutes to spare, a group of Nader's campaign workers submitted a petition containing about 10,300 signatures to the Secretary of State's office.

If they're all verified, that's more than double the signatures required under state law.

State election officials must first review them before Nader can officially get on the ballot. They have 24 hours to verify the signatures, according to a Secretary of State news release. ...

Earlier in the day presidential candidates for the Libertarian and Constitution parties were added to Kentucky's general election ballot. -- Nader registers to for Kentucky ballot, Libertarian and Constitution parties (AP via WKYT.com)

Constitution and Libertarian Parties are on the Virginia presidential ballot, but not Nader

AP reports: Independent Ralph Nader will not appear on Virginia's presidential ballot, the State Board of Elections said Tuesday.

Nader fell short of the required 10,000 certified signatures on his qualifying petitions, said Jean Jensen, secretary of the board. "He needed 10,000 and we were able to verify 7,342," Jensen said.

Nader had submitted about 12,900 signatures, and officials checked them against local voter lists.

"We'll review those ourselves the ones they've knocked off and see if they are accurate," said Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese. "But if they're not registered voters, they're not registered voters." ...

The Constitution Party and Libertarian Party candidates did qualify in Virginia, and will join Bush and Kerry on November's ballot, Jensen said. -- Nader Won't Be on Virginia Ballot (AP via ABCNEWS.com)

Nader and Libertarians submit petitions in Alabama

AP reports: Supporters of Ralph Nader and Libertarian Michael Badnarik met Tuesday's deadline to submit voters' signatures that they expect will get the candidates added to Alabama's presidential ballot.

Supporters of the Constitution Party's Michael Peroutka turned in their signatures last month, and Peroutka has already been approved for Alabama's presidential ballot, said Trey Granger, spokesman for the Alabama secretary of state's office.

The Nader and Badnarik campaigns will have to wait a few days for the secretary of state's office to verify whether they submitted sufficient signatures to get on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Jess Brown, a political scientist at Athens State University, said adding candidates to the ballot would be significant in a state where George W. Bush and John Kerry are running close, but it doesn't mean much in Alabama.
-- Alabamians will have more choices than Bush and Kerry (AP via AL.com)

August 30, 2004

Nader does not appeal Missouri ruling

AP reports: Ralph Nader won't be on Missouri's ballot in November, after failing to appeal a ruling by the secretary of state.

Missouri Secretary of State Matt Blunt had said Aug. 18 that supporters of the independent presidential candidate failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Nader's supporters submitted 12,893 signatures by the July deadline, but Blunt said local election officials verified only 9,006 - 994 short of the number required. -- Nader fails to appeal ballot ruling (AP via ColumbiaTribune.com)

Nader challenged in Nevada

AP reports: A judge was asked Monday to drop Ralph Nader from Nevada's November ballot by a lawyer for the state Democratic Party and for three women who said Nader supporters used sneaky tactics to get their names on a petition backing his bid for president.

Carson City District Judge Bill Maddox didn't issue an immediate ruling, and instead called for more information on alleged flaws in the signature-gathering by the Nader supporters. He planned to continue taking testimony Tuesday.

Attorney Paul Larsen, representing the Democrats and the three women, said there was an initial count of 11,888 signatures supporting Nader -- but if the judge deletes all the names that have been questioned only 314 would be left. About 5,000 names are needed to ensure a spot on the ballot.

Maddox said it's doubtful he'd toss out all the names questioned by Larsen. He also said he wants a careful accounting of the signatures in question so that there's a good record in the event of a likely appeal of his decision to the state Supreme Court. -- Nader's Nevada ballot status challenged (AP via SFgate.com)

Nader off the Pennsylvania ballot

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader has lost his attempt to get on the November ballot in Pennsylvania, according to a Commonwealth Court decision handed down today.

A three-judge panel said Nader violated state law by trying to run as an independent here, while in Michigan filing to run on the Reform Party ticket.

"Nomination papers shall be set aside ... and denied ballot status in Pennsylvania," the court wrote. ...

Gregory Harvey, one of the attorneys challenging Nader's attempt to get on the ballot, said the court decision means "one cannot simultaneously seek to be an independent political candidate (in Pennsylvania) ... while accepting the nomination of a political party in another state."

Nader attorney Samuel C. Stretton said Nader may appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Stretton called the ruling a violation of the right to free speech, and said the court erred in its application of the law banning someone from running under two political affiliations.

"That statute is really written if someone is running on multiple parties in Pennsylvania" for the same office, said Stretton. -- Nader off the the ballot in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia Inquirer)

The decision is here.

August 29, 2004

Nader's problems in Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia Daily News reports: It was enough yesterday for an attorney representing Nader to all but plead for extensions and special considerations from a skeptical panel of three judges in Commonwealth Court.

"We've done as much as we humanly can do," Nader attorney Sam Stretton told the judges. "There's no dispute; you've bent over backwards for us. But it's not enough."

Stretton was asking for more time to defend the 37,000 of the 45,000 Nader petition signatures contested by Democrats. Nader needs 25,697 valid signatures to get on the ballot in Pennsylvania.

So far, with limited volunteers, the campaign has been able to review only 1,371 signatures. Of those, Stretton said, 53 percent are invalid. An additional 21 percent were signed by people who were either late in registering to vote or who listed an address different from the one at which they registered.

Stretton also asked the court to allow Nader to count as valid the late registrants and incorrect addresses in the interest of democracy and to lighten the heavy burden on a small, poorly funded campaign.

Stretton also asked the court to make an exception to a Pennsylvania law that prohibits people with party affiliations to run as independents for president here. -- | 08/28/2004 | Lawyer begs for mercy for Nader (Philadelphia Daily News)

Reform Party nominates Nader

The Dallas Morning News reports: It was an unlikely party meeting in an unlikely place.

The National Reform Party, an anti-immigration protectionist party founded by Dallas billionaire Ross Perot, endorsed left-leaning independent Ralph Nader as its presidential nominee at a national meeting in Irving [Texas] on Friday.

Mr. Nader accepted the endorsement in a speech attended by about 75 members Saturday, even though he's not on the ballot in Texas and is not completely aligned ideologically with Reformers. ...

Mr. Nader did not meet Texas' deadline to get on the November ballot, and he is challenging the state's ballot-access laws in court.

"What the threshold needs to be is, if a person is a citizen, a taxpayer and a registered voter, they should be allowed to run for president," said Shawn O'Hara, the Reform Party's national chairman. -- Nader nominated by Reform Party (DallasNews.com)

Status of third parties in Alabama

AP reports: Alabama voters will have more choices than George W. Bush and John Kerry for president if four groups are successful in getting enough signatures to put their candidates on Alabama's general election ballot.

Supporters of Michael Peroutka, the Constitution Party candidate, are confident they have submitted far more than the 5,000 signatures from Alabama voters that are required to get on the Nov. 2 ballot. The secretary of state's office is in the process of verifying the signatures.

Three other groups -- including Ralph Nader's supporters -- are running behind because they had to start over with their signature drives.

Supporters of Nader, the Green Party's David Cobb, and the Libertarian Party's Michael Badnarik have until Sept. 7 to get the 5,000 signatures and give them to the secretary of state. -- Groups push for ballot access (AP via MontgomeryAdvertiser.com)

August 25, 2004

Nader on the ballot in Montana and Arkansas

Richard Winger emailed: Montana [emailed me and ] says Nader's petition has been approved. Arkansas told me the same thing today, although since it was a phone call, there's nothing tangible for me to give you.

August 23, 2004

Louisiana qualifying re-opened to allow challengers to Rep. Alexander

AP reports: A state judge called Rep. Rodney Alexander's last-minute re-election switch an attempt to subvert the election process and ordered that the ballot be re-opened for new candidates.

Alexander, who first signed up as a Democrat then switched to Republican just minutes before the qualifying deadline, was not present at the Monday hearing before District Judge Allen Edwards.

The ruling did not set a date for the new sign-up period. He said the new dates should be set after appeals have been exhausted, although lawyers for both Democrats and Republicans seemed somewhat pleased with the outcome and neither side called immediately for appeals.

The effect of the ruling would be to give the Democrats time to find a strong candidate to run for the seat. It did not throw Alexander off the ballot, as the Democrats had asked, although it said he must qualify a third time. -- Judge: Qualifying must re-open in congressional race (AP via 2theadvocate.com)

Michigan elections board deadlocks on putting Nader on the ballot as independent

AP reports: Presidential candidate Ralph Nader will have to rely on the courts to get on the Michigan ballot this November.

The Board of State Canvassers deadlocked Monday on whether to accept the nearly 50,000 signatures turned in last month to put Nader on the ballot. About 45,000 of the signatures were collected by Republicans. Nader needed 30,000 signatures to get on the Michigan ballot as an independent.

The 2-2 decision by the board followed party lines, with Republicans voting to certify the signatures and Democrats objecting.

The fight now goes to the Michigan Court of Appeals, keeping Nader off the ballot until the issue is resolved. -- Board deadlocks on accepting Nader petition signatures gathered by GOP (AP via MLive.com)

Nader's petitions now accepted in Virginia

AP reports: The Virginia State Board of Elections must accept petitions submitted by Ralph Nader's presidential campaign, the attorney general's office said Monday, advising the top election official to reverse Friday's decision rejecting Nader's qualifying papers.

An advisory letter to State Board of Elections Secretary Jean Jensen said there is no evidence that a state rule requiring campaigns to group the petitions by congressional district was ever approved by the board and can't be enforced.

On the advice of the attorney general's office, Jensen cited the rule on Friday in rejecting the 70-year-old consumer advocate's petitions, effectively denying him a spot on Virginia's presidential election ballot in November.

The attorney general's office reversed itself on Monday in a five-page letter from senior assistant attorney general James W. Hopper. Accordingly, Jensen said in a one-paragraph statement, her office will accept Nader's petitions and begin processing them. -- Virginia Attorney General says state must accept Nader ballot petition (AP via dailypress.com)

Nader loses effort to get on the ballot in Illinois, but suit still pending

AP reports: A federal judge today refused to block the Illinois State Board of Elections' decision to keep Ralph Nader off the November ballot.

U-S District Judge Matthew Kennelly rejected the Nader campaign's request for an injunction against the elections board. That body voted Thursday not to certify the independent presidential candidate for the ballot after concluding Nader fell nearly five-thousand signatures short of the 25-thousand petitions required. --

Judge denies Nader's challenge of Illinois ballot-access laws (AP via wqad.com)

The federal court in the Northern District of Illinois denied Ralph Nader's motion for a preliminary injuction and denied the state's motion to dismiss. So Nader's suit made no headway, but is still alive. You may download the opinion here.

August 22, 2004

Louisiana Dems try to knock Cong. Alexander (R nee D) off the ballot

AP reports: A state judge will consider whether U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander should be kicked off the November ballot because of his last-minute switch from the Democrats to the Republicans.

A lawyer for the Louisiana Democratic Party filed a lawsuit aimed at either forcing Alexander to run as a Democrat or getting him kicked off the ballot altogether. The lawsuit cites a Louisiana law stating: "no candidate shall change or add his political party designation ... after he has qualified."

Democrats called Alexander a "traitor" and a "coward" after he turned Republican in the last 15 minutes of qualifying, after registering two days before as a Democrat. Alexander's move meant the Democrats did not have time to find a strong candidate to run against him.

District Judge Allen Edwards was scheduled to hear arguments in the case Monday in Plaquemine, in Iberville Parish, the southern tip of Alexander's 5th Congressional District. -- Iberville Parish judge to consider congressman's party switch (AP via NOLA.com)

Yes, Virginia, there may be a Nader on your ballot

The Richmond Times Dispatch reports today: In a move that could affect the presidential campaign in Virginia, the state attorney general's office is reconsidering its decision that kept Ralph Nader off the presidential ballot.

A spokesman for Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore said yesterday that his office made the decision that denied Nader a spot on the ballot based on misleading information provided by the State Board of Elections. ...

Tim Murtaugh, press secretary to Kilgore, said the attorney general's office offers legal counsel to the State Board of Elections. Kilgore's office is revisiting the advice it provided Jean Jensen, secretary of the elections board, on Friday because it feels she provided misleading information, he said.

Jensen, a Democratic appointee and former executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, declined to comment other than to note she had spent most of yesterday in her office with James Hopper, the senior deputy attorney general, going over the Nader filing. Hopper provided the advice Friday that resulted in the elections board denying Nader a place on the ballot.

Murtaugh did not say whether Kilgore would ask that Nader's name be placed on the ballot. The Nader campaign already has threatened to go to court in an effort to get on the ballot. -- State reconsiders Nader's bid (TimesDispatch.com)

It's always a good sign when the lawyer blames his client.

Thanks to "morganbrown" for the comment that lead me to this story.

=====
UPDATE
=====

The Hampton Roads Daily Press reports: Local Ralph Nader supporters regrouped Saturday and planned to file a lawsuit to force the Virginia State Board of Elections to allow the consumer activist on the state's November presidential ballot.

The Nader group will allege that it was misled by an election official who said it was OK to keep counting signatures, even though the noon Friday deadline had passed, said Jim Polk, a Virginia Beach resident and Nader's Virginia campaign manager. --
Nader backers plan suit against board (DailyPress.com)

More details on Virginia's rejection of Nader petitions

The Richmond Times Dispatch reports: After Democratic Party officials raised objections, the State Board of Elections yesterday rejected petitions from the presidential campaign of consumer activist Ralph Nader to put his name on the Virginia ballot.

Jean Jensen, the board secretary, said the petitions, which contain the names of more than 10,000 registered voters in Virginia, were not filed in the proper order by the deadline, which was noon yesterday.

Democrats in several states have blocked Nader from getting on the ballot because they believe his third-party candidacy in 2000 cost Democrat Al Gore the presidential election.

Yesterday, Nader representatives showed up at the State Board of Elections office at 25 minutes to noon and immediately got down on their hands and knees on the floor and began sorting petitions, as a Virginia Democratic Party official looked on.

After the noon deadline, the sorting-out process was moved to a larger room at the rear of the Ninth Street office building.

Jensen said the attorney general's office advised her the petitions did not meet ballot requirements because they were not filed in congressional district order by the deadline. State law requires at least 10,000 signatures, with at least 400 from each congressional district.

Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican, is chairman of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign in Virginia, which would welcome a Nader candidacy in Virginia to take votes away from the Kerry-Edwards ticket.

Jensen said she had been inclined to give the Nader representatives the benefit of the doubt because they had entered the doors before the noon deadline. But she said James Hopper, a senior assistant attorney general, told her the petition procedures had been presented to all the prospective candidates and that the Nader representatives did not comply. -- Nader bid for state ballot fails (TimesDispatch.com)

Thanks to Richard Winger for pointing me to this story. Yesterday I posted only the AP story wrapping up the four states that had rejected Nader's petitions. Richard blames this on the Democrats (see his comment), but notice the role the Republican Attorney General.

If anyone gets a copy of the inevitable lawsuit(when it is filed), please send it to me.

August 21, 2004

Challenge to Nader in Iowa

The Quad-City Times reports: A Drake University journalism professor filed a legal challenge Friday to presidential candidate Ralph Nader's petition to get on the ballot in Iowa.
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Lee Baldwin Jolliffe, who is from Des Moines, filed the challenge Friday afternoon alleging that fewer than the required 1,500 signatures on Nader’s petition are valid. Nader's presidential campaign submitted a petition last week with 3,198 signatures to the Secretary of State's office.
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The deadline for a challenge was at 5 p.m. Friday.

The Nader petition, she said, included instances of names not matching addresses, addresses that don’t exist and multiple names that appeared to be in the same hand writing. She added that of the signatures she believes are legitimate, most were signed by people registered as Republicans. She said she did the research, with the help of some friends. -- Challenge filed to keep Nader off Iowa ballot (Quad-City Times)

Michigan Dems charge GOP fraud on Nader petitions

AP reports: The head of the Michigan Democratic Party said Friday that the party's check of the tens of thousands of signatures gathered by Republicans to put presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the ballot show a clear pattern of fraud, a charge Republicans deny.

The Democratic Party has filed a challenge to many of the signatures. The issue will be taken up Monday by the Board of State Canvassers.

"If Nader gets on the ballot through such blatant Republican fraud, he will be nothing more than the second Republican candidate on the ballot, truly demonstrating that a vote for Nader is a vote for George Bush," Democratic Party Executive Chairman Mark Brewer said during a Friday news conference.

Brewer said the party has discovered that one in five of the 50,000 signatures gathered by both Republicans and Nader supporters belong to people who aren't registered to vote or whose signatures are invalid for other reasons.

But the party's biggest complaint alleges that Michigan Republican Party staffers didn't circulate the petitions themselves, instead adding their names as circulators once the petitions containing 20,000 signatures came into party offices. -- Democrats charge Nader petitions false (AP via SouthBendTribune.com)

Nader draws 4 of a kind -- all jokers

AP reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader suffered setbacks this week as election officials in Virginia, Maryland, Illinois and Missouri all denied him access to state ballots this fall.

In each case, officials said Nader campaign workers either did not submit enough valid signatures on ballot petitions or failed to follow proper procedures.

On Friday, Virginia's election board secretary, Jean Jensen, said Nader workers failed to meet state requirements that the signatures be grouped according to congressional district, and then by localities within each of the 11 districts. ...

Also Friday, Nader's supporters fell 500 signatures short of getting him on Maryland's ballot, as campaign officials said many who signed the petitions were not registered voters.

Nader was denied access to Missouri's ballot on Wednesday after the secretary of state said his supporters failed to submit enough valid signatures in the battleground state. On Thursday, the Illinois State Board of Elections voted not to certify Nader for the state's ballot after finding about 12,000 of the signatures he turned in were invalid. -- Four states deny ballot access to Nader (Boston.com)

The anti-Nader petition in Pennsylvania

Here is the Petition to Set Aside the Nomination Paper of Ralph Nader and Peter Miguel Camejo filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. Warning: this is about 250 pages, so get ready for some serious reading.

Thanks to Milind Shaw, one of the laborers in the vineyard, for sending this to me.

August 19, 2004

Can't skip lawyering to get to judging

How Appealing reports: "Supreme Court candidate taken off ballot after failing to show credentials": The Minneapolis Star Tribune yesterday contained an article that begins, "Patricia Jambois, a reclusive candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court, will be removed from the November election ballot because she has failed to show she is licensed to practice law in Minnesota, Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer said Tuesday." -- How Appealing

"Democrats' Legal Challenges Impede Nader"

The New York Times reports: Ralph Nader's efforts to get his name on presidential ballots in important swing states are becoming mired in legal challenges and charges of fraud by Democrats who have mounted an extensive campaign to keep him from becoming a factor in this year's election.

Recent polls show that Mr. Nader could draw at least 2 or 3 percent of the vote in more than a dozen states where the race now appears close enough for him to alter the outcome, most likely to the detriment of Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, and in favor of President Bush.

With Republicans in several states acknowledging that they are bankrolling and gathering signatures for Mr. Nader, local Democratic parties across the country, aided by a group of lawyers calling themselves the Ballot Project Inc., have initiated mini-campaigns to stop him, state by state.

"The Democrats are making this as difficult and as debilitating for him as possible, making him expend blood, sweat and tears for every inch," said Charles E. Cook Jr., a nonpartisan analyst who tracks races in every state. "He has only so many hours in the day and so many resources. And to the extent that he's tied up trying to get on the ballots, he's not getting any kind of message across." -- Democrats' Legal Challenges Impede Nader

Nader falls short in Missouri

AP reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader failed to provide enough valid signatures to earn a spot on Missouri's November ballot, the secretary of state's office said Wednesday.

Nader's supporters submitted 12,893 signatures by the July deadline, but Secretary of State Matt Blunt said Wednesday local election officials verified only 9,006 -- 994 short of the number required.

"We're reviewing the decision, see what appeal rights we have," Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese said. "If we have to go to court, we may do that as well."

Nader's campaign can appeal the decision in court within 10 days, secretary of state spokesman Spence Jackson said.

Nader, who still is scheduled to appear in Springfield at 7 p.m. Aug. 26, could submit paperwork to qualify as a valid write-in candidate. The deadline for that is Oct. 22, but people would have to add him to their ballots to vote for him. -- Nader won't be on ballot in Missouri (AP via News-Leader.com)

Nader submits New York petitions

AP reports: Supporters of Ralph Nader's independent presidential campaign said yesterday they had filed enough petitions with the state to put him on the New York ballot.

In New York, independent candidates for statewide office must submit petitions containing the signatures of at least 15,000 registered voters to qualify for the November ballot.

"The campaign submitted more than 27,500 signatures," said Mark Dunlea, a state Green Party leader assisting the Nader effort. -- Nader's got the names in NY (AP via Newsday.com)

Maine Dems check Nader petitions

AP reports: Democrats resumed their efforts Wednesday to find defects in petitions supporting independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's appearance on Maine's Nov. 2 ballot.

But no decision was expected before Thursday on whether the party would formally challenge the petitions, Maine Democratic Chairwoman Dottie Melanson said.

About 10 representatives of the state Democratic Party focused their review on municipalities where voters who signed in support of Nader live, looking for duplicate signatures and other improprieties that might invalidate some of the names, Melanson said.

On Monday, the secretary of state's office certified 4,128 voters' signatures for Nader, 128 more than he needed to get on the ballot.

Election officials’ certification opened a five-day window for challenging those petitions. -- Dems hunt for flaws in Nader petitions (AP via Portsmouth Herald)

Anti-Nader group will run TV ads

The Albuquerque Tribune reports: Opponents of Ralph Nader's candidacy in New Mexico said today they are taking their battle to the airwaves.

New television ads sponsored by the Nader Factor will start airing Monday in Albuquerque and Wisconsin in an attempt to derail Nader's push to get on the ballot.

In the ads, the group links Nader to President Bush's campaign, saying Republicans are helping Nader get on the ballot in key swing states like New Mexico.

"It's got to be one of the strangest alliances in the history of American politics," said David Jones, a former Democratic fund-raiser who is president of TheNaderFactor.com.

The ads, which feature the hypothetical bumper sticker "Bush/Nader 04," accuse Nader of accepting help from Republicans. -- Nader foes plan TV ads (Albuquerque Tribune Online)

You can view the ad at TheNaderFactor.com.

Four simultaneous hearings for Nader's Pennsylvania petitions

AP reports: Three state judges in Philadelphia and a fourth in Pittsburgh will simultaneously scrutinize the validity of petitions submitted by independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader in his effort to appear on the Pennsylvania ballot, a lawyer in the case said.

Gregory M. Harvey, who is representing one of eight people who challenged Nader's right to be listed on the state's Nov. 2 election ballot, said President Judge James Gardner Colins may add a fifth simultaneous hearing, if he determines one is necessary.

Colins set Sept. 3 as the date for the hearing, according to an order he filed Thursday in the case. The order followed a Thursday morning closed status conference in Philadelphia.

The bulk of the hearings will be held in Philadelphia, because that is where most of the signatures were gathered and where most of the alleged petition fraud occurred, Harvey said.

The lawyers for the eight people allege that more than 37,000 of the 47,000 signatures Nader supporters turned in earlier this month were forged, fictitious or otherwise flawed. Once those are thrown out, they say Nader will lack the 25,697 registered voters' signatures he needs to get on the ballot. -- Judges to scrutinize Nader petitions on Sept. 3 (AP via PennLive.com)

Nader charges Oregon Dems are using gangster tactics

AP reports: Accusations of dirty tricks are relatively rare in Oregon politics, but Ralph Nader's independent presidential candidacy has sparked charges and countercharges between his campaign and backers of Democratic nominee John Kerry.

Union officials who are supporting Kerry this week accused Nader's backers of engaging in widespread fraud and forgery in gathering signatures to place Nader on the Nov. 2 ballot in this battleground state.

Nader's supporters countered that Democrats and their union allies are resorting to ``gangster'' tactics by bullying and intimidating signature gatherers in hopes of thwarting Nader's petition drive. ...

A public employees union, the Service Employees International Union, has filed election complaints with the state saying it has heard from more than 30 people who say their names were falsified on Nader's petitions.

The union also has sent letters to nearly 60 of Nader's signature gatherers warning them that they could face a felony conviction and a prison term for knowingly submitting fraudulent signatures. -- Nader faithful, Democrats spar in Oregon (AP via The Register-Guard)

Nader submits 14,473 petitions in Ohio

Cox News Service reports: Ralph Nader's Ohio supporters on Wednesday turned in petitions with 14,473 signatures to Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, nearly three times the 5,000 signatures needed to get Nader on the state's Nov. 2 presidential ballot as an independent.

Today is the filing deadline for independent candidates.

Attorney Don McTigue, representing the Ohio Democratic Party, filed a public-record request to get copies of the petitions before they are sent to county boards of election to have the signatures checked against lists of registered voters.

Carlo LoParo, Blackwell's spokesman, said the request was being reviewed.

McTigue said he planned to review the signatures to "make legal challenges" of any legal defects not noted by county boards of election. -- Nader backers nearly triple signature count needed for Ohio ballot (Cox News Service via news-journal.com)

Nader-Green-Libertarian petition rejected in Alabama

The Mobile Register reports: Just this week, hopes of getting Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik on the Alabama ballot took a hit in the form of an advisory opinion by the Alabama attorney general's office.

Through a nonpartisan group called Independent Alabama, the Libertarians had teamed up with supporters of Green Party presidential contender David Cobb and independent Ralph Nader to collect the 5,000 signatures needed to put all three on the Alabama ballot as independents through a joint petition.

That led state Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, and Secretary of State Nancy Worley, a Democrat, to seek assurances from Attorney General Troy King, a Republican, that the collaboration is legal. In an opinion released Wednesday, the answer was no.

State law aims to ensure that each independent presidential hopeful is supported by at least 5,000 voters, the opinion reads.

"A petition with multiple candidates could influence a voter to sign the petition because the voter supported one candidate, even if the voter did not support, or even know, the other candidates," the opinion concludes. -- Third parties have trouble getting place on ballots (Mobile Register)

August 18, 2004

Corrections via email

Re the Nader vs. Arizona story, Richard Winger writes:

Dear Ed, I know it's not your job to correct factual errors in the news stories you link to. But this error is gigantic and ought to be pointed out. You linked to an Arizona story about Nader's lawsuit against the Arizona petition deadline for independent candidates. But the story says the Arizona deadline is July 9. It's really June 9. Also the reporter got the name of Nader's attorney wrong. It's Robert Bernhoft, not Robert Barnes.

Re the West Virginia/Nader/Clark story, Richard writes:

As to West Virginia, I know you're only putting up articles, not correcting them. The newspaper article is wrong to say Ed Clark is the Libertarian presidential nominee. He is the stand-in, since the actual presidential candidate hadn't been chosen when the petition drive started. Ed Clark will resign and Michael Badnarik will be substituted.

Richard Shepard offers the same correction:

The Libertarian presidential candidate is not Ed Clark but Michael Badnarik (see, www.badnarik.org). Ed Clark was the Libertarian candidate in 1980.

Thanks to all who read (and comment) on these clippings.

August 17, 2004

Nader submits Maine petitions

The Portland Press Herald reports: Ralph Nader, the independent candidate for president, beat Maine's filing deadline Monday by presenting the Secretary of State's Office just more than enough signatures to be on the Nov. 2 ballot.

There's still a chance, however, that Nader, who took 5.7 percent of the vote in Maine when he was the Green Party's candidate in 2000, won't be on the ballot.

A five-day challenge period goes into effect today. During that time, any individual or organization can question the validity of the signatures. ...

In order to be on the ballot, a candidate who is not a member of a recognized party in Maine must submit at least 4,000 signatures of registered voters. Just before the 5 p.m. deadline Monday, the Nader campaign turned in 4,128 signatures, Deputy Secretary of State Doug Dunbar said. -- Nader gets enough names to get on ballot (Portland Press Herald)

Independent Nader and Libertarian Clark gain ballot spots in W.Va.

AP reports: Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's name will appear on West Virginia's general election ballot in November, the secretary of state's office said Tuesday.

An incomplete review of Nader's petitions shows his campaign gathered 15,302 valid signatures, exceeding the 12,962 he needed, said Cindy Smith, team leader of the secretary of state's election division.

Nader's campaign submitted petitions bearing 23,000 signatures last month.

Libertarian presidential candidate Ed Clark also will appear on the ballot, Smith said. That review showed Clark had 13,712 valid signatures.

The announcement of Nader's place on the ballot came a day after a Charleston lawyer sued Secretary of State Joe Manchin, alleging he failed to investigate how Nader's campaign obtained the signatures, or failed to refer the matter to Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office for an investigation. -- Nader gains spot on W.Va. ballot (AP via Charleston Gazette)

Nader sues Arizona for ballot spot

Arizona Daily Sun reports: Ralph Nader filed suit Monday to put his name on the November presidential ballot in Arizona.

Nader and Peter Camejo, his running mate, charge that a July 9 deadline for independent candidates to file their petitions violates federal laws. Attorney Robert Barnes said this is the
second earliest deadline in the country.

Barnes also contends the state cannot legally enforce another law which requires that petition circulators be "qualified electors" of the state -- meaning that they are at least eligible to vote here. That translates a residency requirement.

That, he said, places an unconstitutional state restriction on a candidate for a federal office. -- Nader challenges decision to keep him off Ariz. ballot (Arizona Daily Sun)

Nader's box score

One of my loyal readers complained that I did not give Nader's successes enough play. To get the full picture of his ups, his downs, and his pendings, see, the Nader Ballot Access Watch page from the Election Law @ Moritz site. I will continue to cover news stories of his efforts, his setbacks, etc.

August 16, 2004

SEIU claims fraud in Nader's Oregon petitions

AP reports: Ralph Nader's supporters were accused Monday of turning in fraudulent petition signatures in their last-ditch effort to place Nader's name on Oregon's Nov. 2 presidential ballot.

The Service Employees International Union, which is backing Democrat John Kerry's candidacy, said its analysis of signatures turned in so far by Nader's supporters suggests that two-thirds of them are fraudulent.

Alice Dale, the union's vice president, said it appears there has been "overwhelming and systemic fraud" in the Nader petition effort.

"Furthermore, looking at the petition sheets for any length of time raises the question of whether campaign officials knew or at the very least should have known about the false signatures," Dale said. -- Union says Nader's circulators forged signatures (AP via KATU 2 - Portland, Oregon)

Nader fails in South Carolina

AP reports: Ralph Nader won't be listed on the ballot in South Carolina as an independent candidate in this year's presidential election.

Nader fell a "couple of thousand" signatures short of the 10,000 needed to have his name on the ballot, said Hannah Majewski, spokeswoman for the State Election Commission.

Nader turned in more than 11,000 signatures but some were found to be invalid once checked against county voter rolls, Majewski said Monday.

Nader campaign officials are negotiating with the Reform Party, which has endorsed Nader's candidacy, and other parties to get him on the ballot as a party candidate in November, said campaign spokesman Kevin Zeese. -- Nader fails to get enough signatures for ballot in S.C. (AP via The State)

August 15, 2004

Was Nader's New Hampshire petition coordination or contribution to Bush?

The Portsmouth Herald reports: An expert in election law cited unanswered questions in trying to determine whether laws were broken last weekend when Republican groups worked to get independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the [New Hampshire] state ballot - presumably to help the Bush/Cheney campaign.

State Democrats filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday, claiming that an effort by a New Hampshire consulting firm and a Missouri-based nonprofit group to gather signatures for Nader from supporters of President Bush constituted a prohibited contribution to Nader. Election lawyer Jan Baran said FEC investigators need to determine whether the groups - Norway Hill, a consulting firm in Hancock founded by Republican David Carney and Choices for America - coordinated the drive with either the Nader or Bush camps. ...

Last week, Kittery, Maine, resident Emily Sawka protested being assigned by a Portsmouth temp agency hired by Norway Hill to collect voters’ signatures for Nader outside a Stratham rally where Bush was speaking. The temp workers allegedly used scripts recommending that they tell potential signers that "without Nader, Bush would not be president."

While the complaint alleges that the drive wrongfully helps the Nader campaign, Baran said the script raises the question of whether the drive was a contribution to Bush.

"It presents an interesting issue when they are saying that this will help the Bush campaign," said Baran. "Bush’s name is mentioned." -- Bush connection to Nader signatures? (Portsmouth Herald)

===

It’s still unclear who financed the drive. Many of the workers were hired through Adecco temp agency in Portsmouth at $12 per hour and told they would receive an extra $100 for every 100 signatures they solicited.

But Carney has said that he and Choices for America never worked out the financials. While he said he hopes Norway Hill gets paid, Carney expects the firm will have to pay some of the expenses itself.

The FEC complaint alleges that, if Norway Hill is not paid, then "it is clear that they have expended corporate resources for the direct benefit of the Nader campaign."

If Choices for America does foot the bill, the complaint says, then the nonprofit "has made excessive and/or impermissible contributions." Both actions would be in violation of U.S. campaign laws, the Democrats allege. -- Dems urge FEC probe of Nader drive ((Portsmouth Herald)