Tag Archives: Ballot Access

Delaware DOJ Calls Validating Libertarian Ballot Access “Waste” of State Resources

The 1600 registered member strong Libertarian Party of Delaware has legally obtained ballot access, but is struggling to get the State of Delaware to recognize it as a legitimate political party. Delaware election officials claim that, due to a dispute between a small splinter group of members that coalesced around a political party with a similar name and the larger Libertarian Party of Delaware, they are having a difficult time figuring out which party should be listed on the ballot.

Delaware State News notes that the party filed a Superior Court complaint in April against the state’s election commissioner in an effort to force officials to acknowledge in writing that the party is ballot-qualified.

However, after the Libertarian Party of Delaware obtained ballot access, a small splinter group of radical members left the party, reportedly over its support of a state-level cannabis legalization measure that they felt would not have gone far enough in avoiding taxes and regulations, and registered a similarly-named political party, The Libertarian Party of Delaware Inc, with the state. Libertarian Party of Delaware secretary Will McVay told Delaware State News that this new splinter party held a nominating convention that only drew 8 people.

McVay says that it should be obvious to officials which party is the real Libertarian Party of Delaware. “Our Facebook page has almost 900 followers and has been around for years, and theirs has like 20 followers and has been around only since December,” he said.

At the Libertarian Party of Delaware’s March 24 state convention, it nominated Nadine Frost as its candidate for U.S. Senate and filed paperwork with the Department of Elections to submit her for inclusion on the ballot. Initially, officials did not respond to the filing, but after the Libertarian Party of Delaware filed a lawsuit, she was listed on the ballot, meaning that the state has already acknowledged a candidate from the party’s nominating convention despite the fact that it claims not to know which party is which.

Libertarian National Committee executive director Wes Benedict said that the Libertarian Party of Delaware is the party it recognizes as a state affiliate rather than the splinter group. “The Libertarian Party cannot have more than one statewide affiliate in any state, nor can it have more than one county-level affiliate in any county. The LNC has therefore requested that the Commissioner of Elections take prompt action to resolve this matter in accordance with Delaware law,” he said in a statement.

However, despite the facts that the national Libertarian Party acknowledges only the Libertarian Party of Delaware, the state has already acknowledged one of its candidates, and the Libertarian Party of Delaware Inc. is exponentially smaller and distinctly different, state election commissioner Elaine Manlove said, “I don’t know who gets to claim [Libertarian registered voters] at this point.”

“She knows who we are — everyone with the commissioner’s office knows who we are. They’re well aware of who the real Libertarian party is. Why they’re not willing to make a ruling on it in writing in a timely fashion is, honestly, beyond me,” said party secretary McVay.

Deputy Attorney General Robert Willard issued a written response from the Department of Justice addressing the Libertarian Party of Delaware’s court complaint demanding recognition of the party’s ballot access, saying that their request has been rendered “moot” by the fact that the state has acknowledged one of its candidates and claims that efforts to obtain written confirmation of ballot access are motivated by an effort “to achieve a tactical advantage in a dispute between rival factions of the Libertarian Party of Delaware.”

“Your refusal to dismiss your complaint is not appropriate under any conceivable legal standard and will result in the needless waste of precious state resources. We again request that your complaint be dismissed without further delay. To the extent the state is required to respond to your complaint, we reserve the right to seek counsel fees and any other appropriate relief,” wrote Deputy Attorney General Willard.

McVay says written acknowledgement is important in ensuring that future candidates get the ballot access that they legally deserve without having to resort to lawsuits. “We can’t afford to go through this every election, we’re a small party. If we have something in writing from the commissioner, we’d at least have something to hang our hats on if our party is ever [legally] challenged again.”

He added, “They’re well aware that they could settle this easily. Especially since we asked them nicely to do that without a lawsuit back in mid-February. It should be a statement of obvious fact that requires no resources whatsoever.”

The Libertarian Party of Delaware Inc Facebook page administrator reportedly told Delaware State News, “The LPD is not affiliated with the Libertarian Party according to the Department of Election’s registration forms available to the public. The LPD, INC was established in 1975, and is in good standing with the state of Delaware.”

Judge Opens the Door for Third Party Candidates in Georgia

On March 18, U.S. District judge Richard Story struck down part of Georgia’s stringent ballot access law requiring third party candidates to collect an enormous number of signatures to appear on the ballot, ruling it unconstitutional.

Under old law, parties not recognized by the state of Georgia were required to collect signatures from 1 percent of eligible registered voters to get on the statewide ballot, equating to over 50,000 signatures. Now candidates only need to collect 7,500 signatures.

Georgia’s previous ballot access requirement narrowed voters’ choices for their presidential candidate, but now the future for third parties is looking brighter in the Peach State.

In 1972, Congressman John G. Schmitz, the American Independent Party presidential candidate that year who got over 1,100,000 votes nationwide, did not qualify to be on the Georgia ballot. In 1976, former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox, who ran as the American Independent Party presidential candidate, couldn’t get on the ballot in his own state.

Ralph Nader, who was the Green Party nominee in 1996 and 2000 and an Independent nominee in 2004 and 2008, was never on the ballot in Georgia, even though he placed third in 2000, 2004, and 2008.

But now one hindrance to ballot access in Georgia has been lessened this election cycle.

“This is a huge victory for Georgia voters who wish to vote for minor party or independent candidates for president,” said Richard Winger from Ballot Access News. “The decision is important for the 2016 race, because when one compares the easier requirements to get on the ballot for president in each state (minor party or independent), Georgia required the 3rd highest number of signatures.  Only North Carolina and California required more. The Texas minor party petition was a slightly smaller number of signatures.”

The ruling may be an opportunity for those in the #NeverTrump movement who are flirting with the idea of running a third party candidate against GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

Georgia attorney and RNC rules committee member Randy Evans told Daily Report that the court’s ruling is “particularly noteworthy given that it comes at a time when institutional powerbrokers are meeting in Washington, D.C., to discuss the creation of another party should Donald Trump become the GOP nominee.”

Nicholas Sarwark, the chairman of the Libertarian National Committee which is the executive body of the Libertarian Party, told Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook, “While the Libertarian Party already has ballot access in Georgia, we applaud Judge Story’s ruling striking down Georgia’s unconstitutionally high ballot access requirements. For 45 years, we’ve been fighting to give Americans a real political choice, while Republicans and Democrats have put up these barriers to competition to try to stop us. The real winners in this ruling are the people of Georgia who will have more political choice on their ballot.”

A 2015 Consider This video from Truth In Media highlighted the fact that the Republican and Democrat parties no longer represent the majority in the U.S.

R's and D's No Longer Majority

Republicans and Democrats are no longer the majority.Learn more: http://bit.ly/1Kdbdqm

Posted by Truth In Media on Saturday, July 18, 2015

Libertarian Party Obtains Ballot Access in Okla. for First Time Since 2000

The Libertarian Party just scored a major victory in its quest to fulfill candidate Gary Johnson’s promise that the party will be on the ballot in all 50 states as an alternative to the Republicans and Democrats in the 2016 presidential election.

Ballot Access News is reporting that the Oklahoma Election Board announced on Monday that it has verified the Libertarian Party’s petition to become a qualified party in the state, meaning that its presidential candidate will appear on the 2016 ballot and that its voters can register to vote as members of the party.

Only Republican and Democratic candidates have appeared on the Oklahoma presidential ballot in every election so far since the year 2000. The only political party to gain recognized party status since that time, the Americans Elect party in 2011, did not place a candidate on the ballot after doing so.

[RELATED: Libertarian Party of Maine Files Suit Seeking Recognized Party Status, Ballot Access]

Truth in Media reported last year on the fact that Oklahoma Republican Gov. Mary Fallin had signed a bill into law in May of 2015 that reduced the number of signatures required for a third party to obtain qualified party status from 5 percent of the number of people who voted in the last gubernatorial election to 3 percent.

Prior to that change in the law, the Libertarian Party called Oklahoma “one of the toughest states for ballot access.

According to The Associated Press, the Oklahoma Libertarian Party had submitted a petition with 42,000 signatures in February, above the 24,745 signatures required to meet the 3 percent rule.

We did it. Now we have to make it count,” said Oklahoma Libertarian Party vice chair Tina Kelly. She said that the party has a dozen in-state candidates that are planning to run for office, including two possible contenders for U.S. Senate.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

In order to remain a qualified party in future elections, the top LP candidate on the ballot must garner at least 10 percent of the vote, a steep hurdle for a party that drew one percent of the vote nationally in the 2012 presidential election. However, a bill that would reduce that threshold from 10 percent to 2.5 percent passed the Oklahoma Senate by a vote of 42-1 on March 10. It has been referred to the Oklahoma House of Representatives for consideration.

Election law expert Richard Winger of Ballot Access News wrote, “The most difficult petition requirement the Libertarian Party must now complete, in order to have its presidential nominee on the ballot in all states in 2016, is the Illinois requirement, 25,000 signatures.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

Follow Barry Donegan on Facebook and Twitter.

New Data: Libertarian Party Registrations Rising

According to a recent Gallup poll and a report from Ballot Access News, the libertarian movement is not only gaining in popularity but is adding new members to the Libertarian Party. In fact, recent data shows that the it’s becoming the fastest growing party in the United States.

According to Cato‘s David Boaz, the number of people who identify as libertarian is increasing in the US according to the Gallup Poll’s 2015 survey. The results show that “27 percent of respondents can be characterized as libertarians, the highest number they have ever found,” as more people are identifying as libertarian than conservative, liberal or populist.

Graphic from Reason.com.

According to the March 1, 2016 Ballot Access News publication, Democrat Party registrations declined between Oct. 2014 and Feb. 2016. The same occurred among Republicans, Independents, The Green and Constitution Party.  The only party that gained registrations is the Libertarian Party (See chart below on page 3. The chart shows the states in which people register by party).

Ballot Access News’ Richard Winger told Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook, “Even though it’s still small, the Libertarian Party registration has increased percentage wise in the last year and a half more than the number of Independents and you will not find the media mentioning that.”

Carla Howell, political director of the national Libertarian Party, told Cook that she is seeing a spike in Libertarian Party registration.

“I can tell you what we have seen for several years now is consistent growth in the Libertarian Party registration in states where you can register to vote by party and a decline in other parties,” said Howell.

Sean Haugh, a North Carolina Libertarian candidate for the US Senate, told Cook his thoughts on the rise of the Libertarian Party.

Cook asked Haugh, “It seems ballot access was an issue in the past for Libertarians, but is the new issue now getting on the debate stage in general elections?”

“For Libertarians in North Carolina, yes,” said Haugh. “We’ve reached the point where we can easily attain the 2 percent we need to stay on the ballot. The next goal is 15 percent to ensure debate access. Still, other candidates have to agree to debate. The signs I’m seeing indicate my opponents this time may avoid debates under any circumstances. I have long felt that once we get to 15 percent, the next step is 51 percent.”

Haugh added, “It’s very gratifying, having been here all this time and seeing Libertarian ideas become mainstream. I’ve been saying the same things for over 30 years, and now I’m the sane, common sense candidate, no longer some fringe radical. It’s nice.”

In July 2015, the Truth in Media Project released a Consider This video, seen below, revealing that Independents and third party voters together are now outnumbering Democrats and Republicans.

Republicans and Democrats are no longer the majority.Learn more: http://bit.ly/1Kdbdqm

Posted by Ben Swann on Saturday, July 18, 2015

California Resolution Would Provide for a Nonpartisan “Public Ballot” Option for Presidential Primaries

(Sacramento, CA) – Assemblymember Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto), State Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), and the Independent Voter Project jointly announce the filing of resolution ACR 145 in the California State assembly urging Secretary of State Alex Padilla to provide an additional, nonpartisan presidential ballot that lists all the qualified candidates so that voters – regardless of their affiliation or nonaffiliation with a major political party – have an opportunity to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice this election. The state would continue to distribute partisan primary ballots to Democratic and Republican voters. The resolution would allow for the creation of a nonpartisan “public ballot” for voters who either can’t or don’t want to vote in a political party’s primary election to participate in the presidential primary.

“ACR 145 strikes a balance between the constitutionally-protected rights of voters to select a presidential candidate – regardless of political party preference – with the rights of political parties to determine who may or may not participate in their private nomination proceedings,” Assemblymember Olsen said. “We shouldn’t be disenfranchising voters in an open primary state by not giving them an opportunity to vote for the most important office in America.”

“Every year, more and more Californians are choosing to not affiliate with a political party. We simply must provide means for those citizens to participate in our democracy and in the elections that they help to pay for,” said State Senator Cannella. “Though I am a proud Republican, I have and will continue to protect the rights of my entire constituency – regardless of their partisan affiliation or nonaffiliation. All Californians should have a voice in the political process and ACR 145 will allow that.”

Under California’s statewide elections, voters can choose to vote for any candidate, regardless of the voter or the candidate’s party affiliation. However, for the presidential election, only Republican voters can vote for Republican candidates, and independent voters (called “No Party Preference”, or “NPP” voters in California) can only vote for Democratic, Libertarian, or American Independent candidates, and only if they actively request a ballot for these parties. Voters who want to vote for a Republican candidate have to register as a Republican within fifteen days of the election to do so. Resolution 145 asks the secretary of state to exercise his authority to ensure that California voters get to vote for the candidate of their choice whether or not they register with a given political party.

The Independent Voter Project provided legal research to both legislators and the legislative analyst and had previously discussed its legal analysis with the secretary of state and his lawyers, including the issue of spending taxpayer dollars on an important stage of the public election process that is controlled exclusively by the private political parties.

If the resolution is adopted, the parties would not be required to allow nonmembers to participate in their nomination proceedings nor would they be required to consider the results of the nonpartisan primary when selecting their party nominee for president. The resolution only asks the secretary of state to create a ballot that would open the process up more to independent voters who want to participate, but also don’t want to affiliate with a political party.

“A majority of new voters are choosing not to express a political party preference. Excluding them from this important stage of a publicly-funded election process of choosing the next president is voter discrimination. The Independent Voter Project (IVP) is dedicated to protecting the voting rights of every voter regardless of political preferences,” says Dan Howle, co-chair of the Independent Voter Project.

Over the last two years, the IVP has led a coalition of nonpartisan organizations and 7 individual plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of New Jersey’s closed primary system, which allows only Republican and Democratic party voters to participate, despite the state’s 47% independent voter registration. As court precedent stands today, a voter must join one of the two qualified political parties in that state as a condition of gaining the right to vote during the primary election.

IVP has expressed their intent to challenge this legal requirement in other states as part of a long-term strategy to protect the rights of every individual voter, regardless of his or her party affiliation.

Illinois Libertarian Party Wins Ballot Access Fight in Federal Court

The Libertarian Party of Illinois has won a battle in the state-by-state fight to repeal laws preventing the rise of a viable third party in the U.S., as it has prevailed in its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Illinois’ full-slate ballot access restriction.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Andrea R. Wood overturned the law, declaring it unconstitutional, in a motion for summary judgment.

Election law expert Richard Winger of Ballot Access News wrote, describing the now-overturned law, “[The full slate law] forced newly-qualifying parties to run a full slate of statewide candidates, whether they wanted to or not. For example, in midterm years, it forced such parties to run for Attorney General, if they wanted to run for Governor, even though the party might not have a qualified candidate for Attorney General (only attorneys can run for that position). In county partisan elections, it forced parties that wanted to run for any countywide executive positions to run for State’s Attorney.”

[RELATED: Libertarian Party of Maine Files Suit Seeking Recognized Party Status, Ballot Access]

Winger noted that the “full-slate law was passed in 1931” and suggested that “it was probably passed to thwart the Communist Party.

Libertarian Party of Illinois chairman Lex Green told NPR, explaining the challenges that had been caused by the law, “If the Libertarian party, or the Green Party, or the Constitution Party, or any other new party would want to run for governor, they would also have to find a qualified candidates for Attorney General, and a candidate for Secretary of State, Comptroller, etc… I personally think that it is all political maneuvering to keep the Democrats and Republicans in power in Illinois.

So we just asked that we be put on equal footing with the Democrats and the Republicans,” Green added.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

The Illinois Libertarian Party had originally filed the lawsuit in 2012. Judge Wood has not yet published a decision explaining her rationale behind declaring the law unconstitutional.

A July 2015 Truth in Media Consider This video highlights the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


Follow Barry Donegan on Facebook and Twitter.

Libertarian Party of Maine Files Suit Seeking Recognized Party Status, Ballot Access

The Libertarian Party of Maine filed a federal lawsuit on January 4 seeking official recognition as a party on Maine’s election ballots.

Truth in Media previously reported that Maine Sec. of State Matthew Dunlap had rejected the party’s request for official party status on Dec. 9 despite the fact that the party had submitted 6,482 registration cards to prove that it had over 5,000 members as of Dec. 1 as required by state law. Independent parties in Maine must prove their level of membership by Dec. 1 of the year prior to an election.

Officials in Maine only certified 4,489 of those registration cards, leaving the Libertarian Party just shy of the required 5,000 mark.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

According to a copy of the complaint obtained by Ballot Access News, Libertarian Party of Maine v. Dunlap names Sec. of State Dunlap, Deputy Sec. of State Julie Flynn, Division of Elections Assistant Director Tracy Willett, and the Maine Department of the Secretary of State as defendants.

The complaint states, “With the sole exception of the office of President of the United States, the primary election is the exclusive gateway to participation in Maine’s general election for all political parties and their candidates, major and minor alike. Unlike
other states around the nation, Maine does not allow minor political parties to nominate
candidates for federal, state or local office by holding a party convention. Unsurprisingly, no minor party candidate for the U.S. House or Senate has gained access to the general election ballot in Maine during the past ninety (90) years.

It added, “On or about December 8, 2015, at a meeting with Deputy Flynn and her
assistant, Melissa Packard, at the Department’s offices in Augusta, Plaintiff Maderal was told that the unofficial ‘verified’ number of Maine voters enrolled in the Libertarian Party according to the Department’s records was only 4489, falling below the 5000 threshold for qualification under 21-A M.R.S.A. § 303… The unofficial ‘verified’ number of enrollments verbally reported to Maderal on December 8th raised numerous discrepancies and concerns, when compared with the number of voter registration and enrollment forms submitted to the Department and all the various town and cities prior to December 1st (totaling 6,482). Of particular concern was what appeared to be an unusually high rejection/failure rate for the enrollments (amounting to some 31% of all enrollments submitted), and LPME’s inability to verify whether the towns and cities actually received and processed all the forms submitted to them and to the Department.

The complaint argues that the Dec. 1 deadline for proving party status “unnecessary burdens on Plaintiffs’ rights to express themselves, to associate politically, and to
cast their votes effectively, among others, which rights are guaranteed to them under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

The Libertarian Party of Maine maintains that Sec. of State Dunlap’s decision prevents the party’s candidates from obtaining ballot access and disenfranchises the party’s voters. Party officials also argued that Dunlap’s ruling effectively nullifies thousands of the party’s membership applications.

For context, the Truth in Media Project released a Consider This video in July of 2015 highlighting the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


Maine Sec. of State Rejects Libertarian Party’s Application for Ballot Access

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap’s office announced on Dec. 9 that the Libertarian Party is not considered a qualified party for ballot access.

State law requires minor parties to prove that they have at least 5,000 members by Dec. 1 of the year prior to an election in order to obtain ballot access. The Libertarian Party of Maine submitted 6,400 party registration cards on Dec. 1 of 2015, but the request for ballot access was reportedly rejected when officials failed to process all of the submitted cards in advance of the deadline.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

By the end of the day on Dec. 1, Maine officials had only processed 4,489 of the Libertarian Party’s registration cards, leaving the official count just shy of the required number, despite the fact that almost 2,000 more of the party’s registration cards had been submitted but not processed.

Ballot Access News’ Richard Winger, an expert on U.S. election law, suggested that the Libertarian Party might have grounds for a legal challenge against the ruling and wrote, “It is extremely likely that the December 1 deadline is unconstitutionally early. Courts have struck down early petition or registration deadlines for a group to qualify for party status in Alabama (April was too early), Arkansas (January was too early), California (January was too early), Idaho (May was too early), Nebraska (February was too early), Nevada (April was too early), New Mexico (April was too early), Ohio (November of the year before the election was too early), South Dakota (February was too early), and Tennessee (April was too early). All of those were procedures to qualify a party, not procedures for candidates.

He added, “The earliest deadline for a new party to qualify that was upheld [in the courts] was the Alabama March deadline, but the reason it was upheld was that Alabama had its primary for all office in March. In the past, when Alabama had a June primary for all office, the April petition deadline was held unconstitutional. The Maine primary is June 14, 2016.

Winger also noted that, in the case of general election ballot access qualifications for individual independent candidates, “A US District Court invalidated Maine’s non-presidential independent candidate petition deadline of April in Stoddard v Quinn, in 1984.

For context, the Truth in Media Project released a Consider This video in July of 2015 highlighting the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


Fearing Trump Indie Run, State GOP Leaders Mull Tying Party Loyalty Oath to Ballot Access

State-level Republican party leaders in Virginia and North Carolina are reportedly considering requiring GOP presidential candidates to sign a party loyalty oath in order to obtain ballot access in the 2016 primary.

Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reasoned that “the procedural moves are clearly aimed at [Donald] Trump, who pointedly refused to rule out a third-party run during the first GOP debate.

If the leadership committees of the Va. and N.C. Republican parties were to change the rule, it would mean that GOP candidates would be required to sign an oath pledging to support the party’s eventual nominee and to not run as an independent or under another party label in the general election.

Ballot Access News’ Richard Winger notes that courts typically rule in favor of private political parties’ authority to kick candidates off primary ballots for refusing to sign loyalty oaths. “The Texas Democratic Party had a similar oath for presidential primary candidates in 2008, and Dennis Kucinich refused to sign it. He sued to get on the Texas Democratic presidential primary ballot, but the U.S. District Court and the 5th circuit upheld the authority of the party to keep Kucinich off the presidential primary ballot. Kucinich asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, but it refused,” wrote Winger.

The Virginia Republican Party central committee’s 84 members are set to vote on the proposal on September 19. The state party’s ballot access rules are due to be submitted to the Republican National Committee by October 1. Virginia’s GOP previously pushed a similar requirement on state-level candidates during the 2013 and 2014 elections.

Republican Party of Virginia chairman John Whitbeck said that the proposal “happens to be one of the things that we are discussing for the 2016 primary” and claimed that it “isn’t about any single candidate.

Former Va. attorney general Ken Cuccinelli reportedly supports implementing the party loyalty oath and has been lobbying on its behalf to his state party’s central committee.

[RELATED: Ohio Sec. of State: Sore Loser Law Blocks Independent Run By Trump If GOP Bid Fails]

North Carolina party officials are also working via conference calls to implement a party loyalty oath in advance of the October 1 deadline and have hired an attorney to draft a proposal.

The Washington Post notes that though state parties can require candidates to sign a loyalty oath to obtain ballot access in the primary, they have no real leverage to do anything to enforce the rule during the general election if the candidate were to break the oath and run third-party anyway.

Parties are private organizations. They have the right not to be merged with the government. They are associations of people that come together and work together for common political goals, and so essentially they’re private,” said ballot access expert Richard Winger, explaining political parties’ legal basis for kicking candidates out of primary elections.

However, in the below-embedded CBS46 Atlanta Reality Check video on whether the Republican National Committee can ban Donald Trump from the debates for refusing to rule out a third-party run, Ben Swann points out the fact that “American taxpayers spent $400 million administering Republican and Democratic primaries in 2012,” raising questions about just how private those political parties are given the public funding of their primary elections.


For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

Federal Court: Tennessee Ballot Access Law Unfairly Burdens Third Parties

A July 2 decision by the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in a suit brought by Tennessee’s Green and Constitution parties has rendered a controversial ballot retention statute in the state unenforceable. According to The Tennessean, Chief Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. said in the decision, “Tennessee’s ballot-retention statute clearly imposes a heavier burden on minor parties than major parties by giving minor parties less time to obtain the same level of electoral success as established parties.

Under the law, Tennessee’s third parties are required to collect a number of signatures exceeding 2.5% of the number of Tennesseans who voted in the last gubernatorial election in order to gain ballot access and were also required to achieve at least 5% of the vote in a statewide race in the subsequent gubernatorial election in order to remain on the ballot. The combined burden of having to meet the high number of petition signatures while also being required to achieve the 5% electoral total within the same election cycle had the effect of forcing third parties to continue to repeatedly attempt to collect signatures to obtain and maintain ballot access while the Democratic and Republican parties remained on the ballot automatically. Major parties only have to meet that 5% threshold at some point during the previous four years in order to remain on the ballot, giving them more time to achieve the same electoral feat.

Green Party of Tennessee co-chair Kate Culver told The Tennessean, “This is huge for the potential for third parties to have a voice in the political arena. We know right now people are unhappy and disgruntled with the two major parties… There needs to be some way to get those voices heard.

Ballot Access News’ Richard Winger wrote, “The Sixth Circuit decision strikes down the vote test on Equal Protection grounds. Tennessee could easily repair this law if it said that newly-qualifying parties also don’t need to meet the vote test in their first election, but that they can meet the vote test in either of the party’s first two elections.

Though the federal appeals court’s decision does render the statute unenforceable, the court has no authority to dictate what the new process will be. Only the Tennessee General Assembly can implement a new ballot retention system. The state could also appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, but is not expected to do so.

A spokesperson for the lawsuit’s defendant, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, said that the state is reviewing the court’s decision to determine what action it should take in response.

Richard Winger of Ballot Access news noted, “The Sixth Circuit also struck down the old Tennessee law that newly-qualifying parties must file a document saying they don’t advocate the violent overthrow of the government. The state had not tried to defend this law, except to argue that it isn’t enforced. However, the decision says the state ‘has not explicitly disavowed enforcing the oath in the future.’ The U.S. Supreme Court had struck all loyalty oaths for parties in 1974, but some states continue to keep them on the books. These states include California, Illinois, Kansas, and Arizona.

OK GOP Governor Signs Bill Making Third-Party Ballot Access Easier

“Today marks an important milestone in Oklahoma history — a day in which the state Legislature and governor not only acknowledged the harmful nature of Oklahoma’s ballot access laws, but also made an effort to ease that burden,” said a statement by the Libertarian Party, cited by The Oklahoman. On Tuesday, Republican Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed HB 2181, a bill that reduces the number of signatures required by independent parties in order to obtain recognized party status and ballot access from 5% of the number of people who voted in the last gubernatorial or presidential election to 3% of those who voted in the most recent gubernatorial contest. The new law is set to take effect on November 1 of this year.

A blog on the Libertarian Party’s website noted, “To get on the ballot in 2016 in Oklahoma, 24,712 valid signatures will be needed. Under the old standard, the amount would have been 41,188.” Libertarian Party staff said that Oklahoma’s outgoing 5% rule made it “one of the toughest states for ballot access.”

Oklahoma’s Republican Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman was one of the authors and initial sponsors of the bill. An op-ed in Tulsa World stated, “Hickman originally proposed bringing the number all the way down to 1 percent.”

Ballot Access News pointed out the fact that Governor Mary Fallin signed the bill within a day of it reaching her desk.

A statement by the Green Party, cited by The Oklahoman, said that the bill’s passage “opens up the possibility for progress towards greater political representation and participation” but that the Green Party will continue pushing for the signature requirement to be changed to 5,000.

Since the year 2000, no independent party has obtained official ballot access in Oklahoma such that a candidate could identify by that label on the ballot.

For more election coverage, click here.

Judge Allows NH Libertarians’ Court Challenge To Proceed

The Libertarian Party can proceed with its challenge to a New Hampshire law that the group claims could prevent its candidates from getting on the ballot, a federal judge ruled.

To have its nominees on the New Hampshire general election ballot, a third party has to win at least 4 percent of the vote for either governor or U.S. senator in the most recent election, or by collecting signatures equal to 3 percent of the total votes cast during the previous election.

Because of a law that took effect in July, parties can’t gather those signatures until Jan. 1 of the election year.

New Hampshire contends that this is to ensure that the signatures on nomination papers are valid. The Libertarian Party sued, saying that it would make it difficult, if not downright impossible, for the Party to petition its way on the ballot.

The state asked the court to dismiss the suit, but U.S. District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro said no. In his ruling, he pointed out that the right to vote must be balanced against the state’s interest in conducting orderly elections.

“The state offers a number of arguments in favor of dismissal, but none are persuasive,” he wrote.

For the 2016 election, the Libertarian Party would need to collect 14,864 signatures, in a shorter time than previously.

“This signature-collection process is like a marathon that’s hard enough just to finish, and now the state is essentially demanding that the Libertarian Party run the marathon in less than two hours. This is unfair and unconstitutional,” said attorney William Christie, co-counsel on the case along with the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, to the Associated Press.

BenSwann.com is committed to report on ballot access issues. See similar articles here.

Third Party Success: Candidate Only Spent $36 on Campaign


Bob Healey, who ran for Governor of Rhode Island on the Moderate Party ticket, only spent $36 on his entire campaign.

According to Ballot Access News, Healey had “the best percentage of the vote for any minor party gubernatorial candidate in 2014.” So, even on a shoestring budget, he had some success.

PolitiFact investigated Healey’s claim and found it to be factual.

“I probably should have spent twice as much. I would have doubled my numbers and maybe be the governor,” said Healey on local radio.

Though he didn’t win, Healey still received 21.43 percent of the vote, which means that the Moderate Party will be ballot-qualified for the 2016 and 2018 elections.

Bob Healey spent $0.0005 for every vote which is a huge success.

Healey’s success was boosted by having equal access to a televised debate. See here.

Unfortunately, there were so many third-party candidates this year who were not invited to a televised debate.

C-SPAN reportedly retracted an agreement to air a gubernatorial debate in Colorado according to FreeandEqual.org. C-SPAN did not return our call for comment.

C-SPAN is publicly funded with tax payer dollars so why did they choose to air the debate with a third-party candidate in R.I. but not in C.O?

According to FreeandEqual.org’s website:

“Per C-SPAN’s request, Free and Equal overnighted an external hard drive to their offices — C-SPAN paid for the postage. A week later after leaving several messages, Free and Equal had not heard back from Ms. Rice. Free and Equal founder Christina Tobin contacted C-SPAN’s Steve Scully, senior executive producer, who said that he would look into the issue, and would put the video up on C-SPAN’s website. He followed up to say that C-SPAN would not air the debate, contrary to the original agreement. He first said it was because the major candidates did not attend. Then he said it was because they didn’t have room in their program schedule. Then he changed it to C-SPAN does not air material filmed by outside organizations, except for news organizations, despite the fact that the debate was was produced by news organizations Free Speech TV and the Open Media Foundation, in part for C-SPAN’s sake.”

FreeandEqual.org stated, “This is a direct contradiction of C-SPAN’s mission statement “To provide elected and appointed officials and others who would influence public policy a direct conduit to the audience without filtering or otherwise distorting their points of view.” Honest media is designed to remove political bias, providing viewers with a free and equal platform of choice. By preventing voters from hearing all ballot-qualified candidates, the media tilts the outcome of elections towards the establishment candidates and political parties. C-SPAN is taxpayer funded, a further mandate for impartiality and giving all candidates an equal voice. Americans turn to C-SPAN to hear from the voices who are ignored by corporate media.”

Should Third-Party candidates have equal access to televised debates as the two major parties do? Please comment below.

Congressional candidate Mark Wichern says, “I want to expose the Federal Reserve Fraud in Congress” in exclusive interview

Mark Wichern is running for public office in Florida’s 1st congressional district. According to his campaign websiteMark started his small business with only “$500 in his pocket,” and now it is a successful business with more than 20 employees. 

Wichern is serious about ending the Federal Reserve system and replacing it with a sound monetary system. 

Wichern told BenSwann.com’s Joshua Cook that he believes the Federal Reserve system is causing inflation which is essentially a hidden tax on the American people. (Listen to Mark Explain the Federal Reserve system here.)

Cook asked Wichern, “Why did you want to run for U.S. Congress?”

“I had a choice, my business was doing really well. I had the choice of sitting back and watching my business prosper and at the same time watching our entire country go under. Let’s face it its not going in the right direction,” said Wichern.

“…I understand what the problems are with this country and more importantly how to fix it. So I had a choice: sit on the sidelines and be prosperous myself, or do something and go fight for our country.”

Though Wichern was inspired by Ron Paul’s Republicanism and Austrian economics, he decided to run as an independent candidate. He believes that the duopoly of the Two-Party system is part of America’s problem.  Wichern identifies with the Tea Party which advocates for lower taxes and limited government and recently received the endorsement of the local Libertarian Party.

According to the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party’s website:

“After meeting with members of the NFLP and completing a questionnaire, it became apparent Wichern’s support for individual rights, free markets and limited government largely coincides with Libertarian views of the same topics, and the NFLP wishes him luck in his quest to reach the Congress.”

This was the first time in history that the NFLP endorsed a candidate other than a member of the Libertarian Party.

Mark Wichern on the Issues. (Click link to jump to each section.)

What are “free markets?”

On the IRS

Wichern on Ron Paul / END THE FED

The Problem of the Two Party System

“I’m a 2nd Amendment guy.”


Listen to full interview here and check out Mark’s Facebook page.

Exclusive Interview: Alaska Constitution Party Candidate To Appear on Governor Ballot


Alaskan voters will have another option for governor this November. For the first-time ever, the Alaskan Constitution Party will have a gubernatorial candidate on the ballot, as well as a candidate for lieutenant governor.

“This is really groundbreaking,” explained J.R. Myers, founder, chairman and now gubernatorial candidate for the Alaskan Constitution Party. “This is actually the first time the Alaska Constitution Party will have a candidate for governor and lieutenant governor, which also, interestingly coincides with the fact that it’s the first time in history the Democrats will not now have candidates for governor or lieutenant governor.”

The group, which has just over 200 members, was first recognized by the state in 2011. And due to state law, it is categorized not as a political party but a “political group.” Due to this fact, Myers and his running mate, Maria Rensel, had to collect signatures to appear on the ballot.

While gathering signatures, Myers was able to canvas would-be voters.

“Most people were very happy and excited to have a new choice on the ballot,” he explained.

Though running on the same ticket, Rensel and Myers had to campaign and gather signatures separately. He said in total the pair brought in approximately 9,000 names, exceeding the state election board’s requirements.

The group hopes that after this election their status, according to the state, will be upgraded to a political party, so they can nominate a candidate at a convention like the Republicans and Democrats.

Myers believes that the Alaska Constitution Party’s views are the right direction for the state.

“We’re rapidly approaching a time of economic constraints that has not been known in this state,” he explained. “Our biggest challenge is how do we reign in the government in a way that is not going to damage the economy.”

The Alaska Constitution Party’s holds a strong belief in the Constitution, as the name of the party implies.

“We believe in the rule of law and the Constitution-based government,” he said.

There may be other parties out there that may also believe they’re Constitution-based, but Myers wouldn’t agree.

“The GOP has failed to live up to their promises,” he added. “People want a party that is true to their principles. I wouldn’t want people to get the wrong idea. We’re not a refugee camp for disgruntled Republicans, but we do have a lot of former Republicans in our midst.”

Myers champions limited government: “There are other ways to solve problems besides turning to the government over and over again,” he explained.

He is also a staunch believer in the Second Amendment: “I’m totally against federal encroachment of Second Amendment rights,” he added.

And for other hot-button issues like Common Core, Myers turns again to the Constitution: “Again it comes down to the Constitution. Where in the Constitution does it authorize the federal government to get involved in educational policy at the local and state level? Nowhere.

We need to get rid of the Department of Education, and we need to decentralize the educational structure so it is at the state and local control,” he said.

Myers described Common Core as a dumbing down program. “Common Core is more about creating a docile working class.”

Myers faces incumbent Governor Sean Parnell, a Republican, in November.

For more information on Myers and the Alaskan Constitution Party, visit his website at www.jr4gov.com.

To listen to the entire interview with J.R. Myers, click here.


Ballot Access Petition Signers were intimidated by gun-wielding private investigator Hired by GOP

Over at the Chicago Sun-Times, there is a story about election challenges that is particularly disturbing.

Apparently people who sign third-party candidates including Libertarian and Green Party, are having their signatures questioned and are being visited by a gun-wielding private investigator who tells them the previous document they signed was fraudulent and gives them a new paper to sign.

One signer said the experience was downright frightening:

“I did not have time to fully review this document because the man with the gun instructed me to sign it, and I was afraid of him and what he may do to me if I refused,” said Julieus Hooks of Oak Park, Ill.

Supporters of Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner are reportedly quietly working to ensure that no third-party candidate has the chance to tilt the outcome in a tight election.

Both candidates are fearing that third-parties may siphon off needed votes.  The Republicans have their sights on Libertarian voters like Hooks.

Here is more about what happened to Hooks: Hooks said, “On or about July 20, 2014, I was exiting my house when a tall Caucasian man and a woman approached and startled me. The man had a gun, which was visible. They told me that the woman who had circulated the petition sheet that I had signed had violated the law because she had obtained too many signatures and committed fraud. I was then given a piece of paper and told to sign.”

The signature gatherer had a similar run-in with the private investigator, who wanted to force the woman to recant the signatures she gathered as fraudulent, which she refused.

A Republican party spokesperson said that they did hire a private investigator to handle the case against the Libertarian petition.

Hooks said that after this experience, no other petitions will be signed.

“Next time somebody asks me, I’m not signing nothing. I don’t care what the petitions are for,” said Hooks.

Lawsuit Could Put Libertarian Party on Ballot in TN Governor’s Race

In Tennessee, 53-year-old ballot access laws place significant and unique burdens on independent parties, thus limiting their ability to be recognized on the ballot. As a result, third-party candidates have traditionally listed themselves as “independent” on Tennessee ballots, as ballot access requirements for independent candidates are much more reasonably attainable than for representatives of a political party. However, the 2012 lawsuit Green Party of Tenn. et al. vs. Hargett et al. rattled the restrictive rules, as a federal judge decided that the requirements placed on independent parties were unconstitutional. Ultimately, US District Judge William Haynes Jr. ordered that the Green and Constitution parties be listed on the ballot in 2012 and, through another lawsuit, in 2014.

Activists with the Libertarian Party of Tennessee have launched their own lawsuit in an effort to get the party’s gubernatorial candidate Daniel Lewis listed on the ballot alongside his party identification in the 2014 general election. As it stands, Daniel Lewis is set to be listed on the ballot as an independent. In 2013, Libertarian Party state house candidate Jim Thomasik made history by successfully suing to have himself listed on the ballot by his party identification.

The restrictive ballot access laws set two different qualification standards for major and minor parties. The Republican and Democratic parties can remain as statewide parties, allowing ongoing ballot access without collecting signatures, as long as one candidate receives 5% of the total votes cast for governor over a four year span of time, which has always happened. In order to be considered a statewide party, independent parties, on the other hand, must have attained 5% of the total votes cast for governor in the most recent election, which is not possible during off-year elections in which a party might have attained recognition on a ballot that does not include a governor’s race. Since third parties rarely attain ballot access in the first place, Tennessee’s independent parties have not had an opportunity to develop in a way that would enable them to achieve 5% of votes in gubernatorial races.

Another complication was pointed out by Courthouse News Service, “Tennessee Code Annotated 2-1-104 requires minor parties to obtain the signatures of 2.5 percent of the total number of votes cast for gubernatorial candidates in the most recent election of governor, to be recognized and appear on the ballot.” This means that, before an independent party can even attempt to achieve the 5% benchmark in a gubernatorial race, it must, in the exact same year, orchestrate a nearly-impossible petition drive by acquiring what could be over 40,000 valid signatures of registered voters in a limited amount of time. The Libertarian Party’s recently filed lawsuit, Lewis v. Goins, requests for the court to affirm the previous rulings that found these ballot access restrictions unconstitutional.

A Davidson County voter, Patricia Gilmore, also signed on to the lawsuit and offered a comment on it in a statement released by the party, “In this broken election system that apparently values dollar bills over individuals, people are losing their natural rights to free expression via association. A closed ballot, which fiercely restricts access to only two parties, does not allow voters the ability to freely associate with any party that best represents their interests, as opposed to special interests. Very few voters have the time and ability to research every candidate in every election and are discouraged from voting by the distinct impression that they may only associate with parties Bad and Worse.”

Another voter who signed on to the lawsuit, Bonnie Tyndall of Williamson County, pointed out, “Archival recordings of the Tennessee Legislature debating this issue in 1961 show a legislative intent to force alternative party candidates to run as independents, so that voters would not know that they are associated with a political party or with which party they were associated. The law made it nearly impossible for new political parties to form.”

Some strategists have raised concerns about the precedent that is set when libertarian activists attempt to change state election laws through federal lawsuits. “If the Court were to find in favor of the Libertarian Party of Tennessee, it would be yet another display of judicial tyranny. Libertarians cannot pretend to be defenders of the Constitution and simultaneously spit on it because state law currently prohibits them from being on the ballot. The federal Constitution delegates the Feds no jurisdiction over state wide elections regarding state candidates. Therefore, the Tenth Amendment dictates all such laws are powers of police maintained by the state. In principle, Libertarians cannot claim to be defenders of the Constitution and then subvert it as a means to an end for their own agenda,” said Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Lotfi.

Given the precedent in recent cases, it is likely that Lewis’ case will prevail, and he will be listed on the ballot by his party identification, giving Tennesseans a Libertarian Party option in the gubernatorial race for the first time in history.

Double Standard in Alabama: Both Major Parties Miss Ballot Deadlines But Will Be on Ballot Anyway


The ballots of two counties in Alabama could be missing both Republican and Democrat candidates after both parties missed the deadline to certify their candidates with the probate judge.

According to WAFF, the parties had until noon last Wednesday, and now the probate judge’s office is turning to Alabama’s secretary of state as to how to proceed with this election.

The Marshall County Democratic Party handed in their list two days late, and the Republican Party turned their list on Monday.

“We still have several days before we have to start ordering ballots,” Marshall County Probate Judge Tim Mitchell said. “I think we have to have ballots in the circuit clerk’s office by September 20, I think. So we still have a few days to figure out what is supposed to happen or what’s going to happen.”

The same thing happened in Jackson County where Jackson County Probate Judge Victor Manning told WAFF that both parties in that county missed the deadline as well. There were many Republican county parties that missed the deadline and the GOP had to request emergency meetings.

Despite missing the deadline, both the Republican and Democrat Party will be on the ballot in Novemeber according to Marshall county Constitution Party’s facebook page.

“Looks like the Probate Judge will allow the major parties on the ballot for 2014, although he does mention that his decision may be overturned. Regardless, we are looking forward to a great campaign and excited about the enthusiasm for our party and it’s principles. For the record, we are very confident in our candidates this year, and would rather have a chance to run head to head, just not at the expense of the rule of law.”


Last year the Alabama secretary of state denied ballot access to James Hall because he lacked the required petition signatures.

“Our job is to execute the laws as they are written,” said Will Sutton, elections attorney in the office of Alabama’s secretary of state. In order for any exception to be made, he said, the laws would have to be rewritten.“The laws are statutory so any change would require action by the legislature,” Packard explained. “There’s no authority for the secretary of state to unilaterally change the signature requirement or the deadline.”


Apparently Alabama’s law only applies to everyone except the two major parties.

Joshua Cassity, Chairman of the Constitution Party of Alabama told BenSwann.com’s Joshua Cook that there is definitely a double standard here.

“In our opinion, we are the only qualified Party on the ballot,” said Cassity.

“The Alabama code says they didn’t meet the qualification. How is the Secretary of State of Alabama granting the probate judge the right to break the law? If the Libertarian Party or Constitution Party were late one day they would have thrown us off the ballot,” said Cassidy.

Cassidy said that because the Constitution Party’s candidates are the only legally certified candidates they they should be declared the winners.




Libertarian Candidate Makes Ballot, Not Debate

The Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Senate in Virginia will be on the ballot this fall, but Robert Sarvis is not invited to debate next month when the other two contenders face-off.

According to PilotOnline.com, Virginia State Board of Elections official said Thursday that Sarvis has been certified to be on the Nov. 4 ballot along with U.S. Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, and Ed Gillespie, the Republican challenger.
Organizers of the debate, the Virginia Bar Association, decided to only invite Warner and Gillespie to the first debate scheduled for July 26 at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.
“They are the only candidates who qualify under our criteria for invitations,” association President John L. Walker III said in an email to PilotOnline.

The group’s debate rules include only candidates that “have a reasonable chance of being elected.”
Sarvis was also excluded from the debate for governor last year. He received 145,762 votes, 6.5 percent of votes cast

Sarvis said that now that he’s on the ballot, he’ll ask the bar association to reconsider.
“I have to ask: Is 145,000 votes not significant to them? How many people watched their debate?” he said.

Libertarian Party has recruited candidates for each of the state’s 11 congressional districts

For the first time in history, the Libertarian Party in Virginia has recruited candidates for each of the state’s 11 congressional districts.

In addition to the candidates for U.S. Congress, there is also a libertarian candidate for the at-large U.S. Senate seat.

On the other hand, Virginia democrats are struggling to find candidates in the 7th congressional district to oppose House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and in the 5th congressional district to oppose republican Robert Hurt.

The Libertarian Party candidates still have to collect the minimum of 1,000 registered voters signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The deadline is Tuesday, June 10, which is the same day as the primary election. According to Virginia the liberty blog Bearing Drift, none of the candidates have finished the ballot qualification process.

Libertarian Allen Knapp told Benswann’s Joshua Cook, “You’re never going to find a candidate that you agree with 100 percent, but there is one thing that I do like about being apart of the Libertarian Party and that is what we believe in, we stick to our guns. We’re not going to say one thing, get elected and then flip flop on it. Because we can’t. It’s just not the way we are. And the way the whole two-party system has been, what’s to hold them accountable? If you’re a Republican, do you vote for the Republican candidate, and he wins, and then he flip flops. What are you going to do next election? Vote for a Democrat? No. You’re going to stick with a Republican. That’s why I like the option of a third party and look for a third party being in these races. It gives you another option, and it will hold those that are going through the election accountable for what they say.”

The 11 Libertarian Party of Virginia candidates for U.S. Congress include

1st District: Xavian Draper

2nd District: Allen Knapp

3rd District: Justin Upshaw

4th District: Bo Brown

5th District: Paul Jones

6th District: Will Hammer

7th District: James Carr

8th District: Jeffrey Carson

9th District: Matthew Edwards

10th District: Bill Redpath

11th District: Marc Harrold

Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Robert Sarvis spearheaded the recruitment initiative.

Sarvis and Redpath are the only ones who have previously sought public office. In addition to running for governor last year, Sarvis ran (as a Republican) for the state senate in 2011. Redpath, who has served as state and national Libertarian Party chairman, ran for Virginia governor in 2001 and for the U.S. Senate in 2008. The other ten are first-time candidates.