Blocking the Vote

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Former Federal Election Commission chief Bradley A. Smith runs through some of the latest outrages in bipartisan ballot shenanigans in the Wash Post: How Dems are using bogus laws to keep GOP candidates from running in Texas and Ohio and a Green candidate in Pennsylvania, how Republicans are screwing with same, etc.

Smith concludes:

Elections should be decided by voters in November, not by lawyers and judges in August. For the past six years much attention has been focused on improving the mechanics of voting and on calls for redistricting reform. But another important way to ensure that voters, rather than courts, choose our leaders is to demand election laws that are no more extensive in their reach than absolutely necessary. A comprehensive review of election laws that serve no compelling state interest would be a good place to start in 2007.

Whole thing here.

Smith takes down "John McCain's War on Political Speech" in Reason here. Reason interviews with Smith here and here.

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  1. Other than proof you meet the requirements for the office as definied in the Constitution of the state or the US, there should be no hindrances to gettion on the ballot. Of course, that’d be bad for incumbents and the two major parties, so it’ll never happen.

  2. Bradley writes an interesting column, but among other things he says that Tom DeLay “moved his residence to the Washington area and withdrew from the race for his House seat.” In fact, DeLay didn’t move his residence to the DC area, which is why the Democrats have been able to keep him on the ballot.

  3. In Delay’s case, I’m not so sure democracy would be better served by a last-minute an rather unconvicing “Ballot ineligability” for the GOP primary winner and his subsequent replacement by a hand-chosen GOP successor.

    I mean, Democrats sued to keep the man on the ballot.

    All I know about the Green candidate is that it appears that the vast bulk of his signatures (required to get on the ballot) appear to be bogus. I personally don’t care who collected them (though I do frown upon people who openly lie about whatever they’re collecting signatures for — don’t think that’s the case here, though), but if you can’t round up real signatures….why should you be on the ballot?

    I mean, we could go all out and simply make the ballot a list of all eligable voters in the voting area, but I think winnowing it down to primary winners and people who can collect a few thousand signatures is probably not a bad compromise.

  4. Part of the problem with election laws is that in many states they make the parties choose their nominees ridiculously far in advance of the gen’l election. That increases the chance that a nominee will be obviously in need of replacement well in advance of the election, which often results in one or more of these:

    1. a dead-end name, or no candidate at all, appearing on the ballot and preventing (purposely or not) a legitimate one from taking hir place

    2. the expressed will of the party’s primary voters being nullified as their choice is replaced

    3. silly and insincere machinations being necessary for a candidate to withdraw from the ballot

    For a gen’l election in Nov., who needs a primary election any earlier than Sept.? Or filing deadlines for independents any earlier than that?

    If it is possible under a state’s election procedures for a candidate in at least some cases to be placed on a ballot as late as time X, why should it be necessary for any deadline for the original filing to be any earlier than X-Y, where Y is the maximum plausible time necessary to verify credentials, etc.?

  5. For a gen’l election in Nov., who needs a primary election any earlier than Sept.? Or filing deadlines for independents any earlier than that? (Robert)

    That’s too restrictive.

    Why shouldn’t primary losers be allowed to run as independents? Given the laws in most states, that requires a petition drive. These usually take several weeks at the minimum, especially when the signers’ names are vetted before submission, well enough to withstand a challenge. Allow some time for the original primary vote to be recounted and/or officially certified, and more for the petitions to be certified by the Board of Elections, then more for the ballots to be prepared and distributed, and it’s not hard to see that time will add up fast. Which of these steps should be eliminated?

    Just thinking out loud.

    CB

  6. In our last city council election Texas law kept election officials from removing from the ballot the name of a candidate who had died.

    I mean, I knew the dead could vote. But hold office?

  7. “For a gen’l election in Nov., who needs a primary election any earlier than Sept.? Or filing deadlines for independents any earlier than that?” (Robert)

    “That’s too restrictive.”

    “Why shouldn’t primary losers be allowed to run as independents? Given the laws in most states, that requires a petition drive. These usually take several weeks at the minimum,”

    Let them do like Lieberman, and have their petition ready to file the day after the primary. But given the choice between allowing the maximum time to decide on a candidate, and allowing the primary losers a 2nd, later bite of the apple, I see no good reason to prefer the latter. What’s the point of giving the parties more time to decide? The ability of their voters to take more time to exclude certain candidates from consideration. If those candidates want another chance, let them file for an additional independent line as insurance before the primary, as in NY. If they win the primary, they’re listed on the ballot twice.

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