Campaigns/Elections

Did Bob Barr Already Win Texas?

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His campaign says both the Democrats and Republicans missed the filing deadline to put their presidential candidates on the ballot. It's a near-certainty that they'll be given a mulligan. And that, Barr's campaign correctly explains, is the problem.

Over the past several decades, Libertarians have spent millions of dollars, filed countless numbers of lawsuits while being sued countless numbers of times over their right to be on the ballot. Thousands of people have put in their time, energy, earnings and passion in an effort that, in the end, simply allows a voter to see a candidate's name printed on the ballot.

Throughout every battle that we engage in each election season, we must dot every "I" and cross every "T" or face the consequences of failure for our ballot drives.

Even when we follow the letter of the law, as we did in Pennsylvania, we still face challenges that drain our financial resources and strain our staff.

Should we give Barack Obama and John McCain a pass in Texas and look the other way? Would they do that for us?

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  1. I hope he pushes this as far as it’ll go. And then some.

  2. “”It’s a near-certainty that they’ll be given a mulligan.”””

    You know it!

    There is no way Texas will deny the R and D. That would be denying the Texas citizenry the right to vote for their candidate! That’s how it will be spun. In reality, the D and R candidate chose not to register. There right, if it exist, is not usurped, the candidates willfully excluded themselves. Now we’ll get to see where the candidates really stand on personal responsibility.

    We will not be past the election and the next President will already have set an example of why he need not follow the law.

    I saw a couple of bloggers on that site mention a registration requirement for write-ins. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of writing in someone?

  3. This is an ABSOLUTELY valid point of the LP and they should start kicking up some stink about it. This two-party bias is a travesty of true democracy.

  4. People who make the rules do not have to follow them.

  5. Both parties will claim a broken-down mail truck, a computer glitch, or some other reason that their paperwork never made it to the secretary of state.

    Anyone else find it strange that both major parties missed the deadline?

  6. I find it astounding that *both* major parties would mess up on such a basic thing. This isn’t some weird thing that libertarians are misinterpreting?

    If the report is true, then I do hope Barr can raise a major stink about this affair. However, there’s no doubt in my mind that Obama/McCain should be allowed on the ballot through some mechanism. Considering that 90%+ of the voters will almost certainly want to vote for one of them, it would be a gross miscarriage of justice to have something like this affect the result of the election.

  7. As a Democrat from Texas, I kinda hope this is upheld. It’d hurt the down-ticket races, sure, but without the 34 electoral votes from Texas, John McCain basically can’t win.

  8. Considering that 90%+ of the voters will almost certainly want to vote for one of them, it would be a gross miscarriage of justice to have something like this affect the result of the election.

    Why is denying the 5-10% of voters who want to vote for Barr (or another third party candidate) in, say, Oklahoma or West Virginia any less of a gross miscarriage of justice?

    Per the “spoiler” argument constantly plaguing third party candidates, isn’t keeping them off the ballot also “affecting the result of the election”…???

    Give ’em holy hell, Barr.

  9. it would never happen, but I’d like to see mebbe a due process case or something to that effect come out of this (if the Ds and Rs are given the mulligan, that is).

  10. If the report is true, then I do hope Barr can raise a major stink about this affair. However, there’s no doubt in my mind that Obama/McCain should be allowed on the ballot through some mechanism. Considering that 90%+ of the voters will almost certainly want to vote for one of them, it would be a gross miscarriage of justice to have something like this affect the result of the election.

    Normally I’d be more sympathetic, but hypocrisy and two-tiered enforcement of rules pisses me off something fierce.

    They are provided with write-in lines, and they can fucking use them.

  11. They are provided with write-in lines, and they can fucking use them.

    Actually, they cannot. In Texas, you must be registered as a write-in candidate in order to have your write-in votes counted. The deadline for write-in candidates was the same deadline Barr is contending that they already missed.

  12. I don’t consider “keeping Obama and McCain off the ballot” to be the ultimate win condition in this situation (though I’d find a certain amount of malicious glee there, to be sure).

    The real win condition would be a suit that goes to the Supreme Court, resulting in the court striking down all those restrictive ballot access laws.

  13. Actually, they cannot. In Texas, you must be registered as a write-in candidate in order to have your write-in votes counted. The deadline for write-in candidates was the same deadline Barr is contending that they already missed.

    I’d say, then, that there is some basis for a due process case challenging the legitimacy of Texas law regarding write-ins.

    Then they can fucking use them.

  14. I called the SOS and the legal department said the parties had filed in time and will be filing amendments for their candidates. I asked for the dates on the filings and they put me on hold and then said they couldn’t locate anyone with that information. They took my name and number and said they’ll call me back with the dates. If they do I’ll report those here. I encourage someone else to try and see if they have better luck before the three day weekend.

  15. The texas SoS will find the ‘misplaced’ filings in due time. You can be sure of that.

  16. If some GOP turd in Cumberland County,PA can sue to keep Bob Barr’s name off the ballot as the Libertarian candidate, despite what the substitution law says, then let’s hope Barr shoves this up their rear end in Texas and drains every ounce of publicity he can.

  17. The gross miscarriage of justice comes from not allowing people to vote, not from allowing politicians on the ballot per established rules.

  18. Can you say “forged” filings?? It would be poetic justice if Texans couldn’t vote for Obama and McCain, since once again, it looks like ObamaCain will be the only choice in Oklahoma (no, Oklahoma doesn’t allow write-ins).

  19. Eric,

    Of what value is the vote if ballot access restrictions limit who you can vote for?

  20. Pretty damned sloppy of the Ruling Party to fail to comply with laws they passed to keep other parties out, isn’t it?

    Oh well, at least they’re going to have to admit that they do whatever they please and can’t be bothered with the rule of law.

    -jcr

  21. “Did Bob Barr Already Win Texas?”

    Did you seriously ask this question?

  22. Incidentally, I say that ballots should be blank. If you don’t know the name of your candidate, too bad for you.

    -jcr

  23. Serious question: Has anyone ever challenged Texas’ (and, apparently, Oklahoma’s) write-in rules in court?

  24. Incidentally, I say that ballots should be blank. If you don’t know the name of your candidate, too bad for you.

    HELL YES.

  25. The issue of ballot access needs to be addressed in 51 different jurisdictions.

    If a turd needss dropped in the punch bowl to help make that happen, so be it.

  26. Blank ballots? A fine idea in theory, but just you wait until an election has two candidates with fairly similar names, and thousands upon thousands of voters with atrocious handwriting.

    It may be hellaciously entertaining to watch a major constitutional train wreck in process, but we’re better off without that particular form of entertainment. Really.

  27. This is excellent rhetoric from Barr. Exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for. But I was really hoping he could interest some folks not in the choir.

  28. It may be hellaciously entertaining to watch a major constitutional train wreck in process, but we’re better off without that particular form of entertainment. Really.

    Says you. Me, I was on Cloud 9 for most of Winter 2000 because of all the entertaining stupidity generated by Florida, and by extension, the rest of the country.

    Of course, if I knew then what I knew now, I wouldn’t have been nearly so happy knowing that Bush the Lesser secured hisself the presidency.

    But at the time, fucking hilarious.

  29. TrickyVic noticed “a registration requirement for write-ins. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of writing in someone?”

    Yes, now you understand government.

  30. John C. Randolph says “that ballots should be blank. If you don’t know the name of your candidate, too bad for you.”

    I like the sentiment, too, but “exactly which John Smith did you mean to vote for, Mam?”
    Jon Smith? John Smythe?

    Voting sucks for many reasons. Pointing out that voting sucks is generally a waste of time.

  31. The reason for a registration requirement for presidential candidates is that the name of the candidate is just a ballot marker for a slate of electors. If you haven’t filed a slate of electors and someone writes you in for president, who are they voting for?

  32. As a Democrat from Texas, I kinda hope this is upheld. It’d hurt the down-ticket races, sure, but without the 34 electoral votes from Texas, John McCain basically can’t win.

    Actually, he can.

    Sure, he can’t win a majority in the Electoral College minus Texas. But the Electoral College is not a plurality system, it’s a pure-majority system. If McCain holds Obama to 269 or fewer EVs, the election goes to the House of Representatives, where the voting will be by states.

    The Republicans are highly likely to control at least 26 state Congressional delegations, which means McCain would be elected President . . . and Biden would be elected Vice-President by the Senate.

  33. On registration of write-in candidates:

    They need to know which “John Smith” you’re voting for. If, hypothetically, John Smith won with write-in votes, the elections office has to make a phone call and say “Congratulations, Mr. Smith, you won.” OK, which guy in the phone book do they call?

    You could say then that they ought to just list Mr. Smith on the ballot, but if the hurdle is low enough then the ballot will be a few pages long (see the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election). If you have too high of a hurdle, of course, you have artificial barriers to competition. If you have too low of a hurdle, you have the 2003 California recall election. So you need some sort of hurdle set somewhere in the middle. The write-in option is then a back-up measure, for those who can’t cross the hurdle but want to compete anyway.

    For the record, I think ballot access hurdles should be lower than they are, but whatever they are I think a write-in option is still a good thing to have. FWIW, Strom Thurmond won his first Senate election as a write-in candidate, so sometimes write-ins do win significant elections.

  34. thoreau,

    Agreed about Thurmond. And here’s the thing:

    Thurmond announced at the last minute, when the Dem nominee died and the party bosses selected someone other than Thurmond as the replacement. (This was before Thurmond became Repup).

    If there had been a filing deadline for write-ins like some states have, Thurmond could not have won – that is, any write-ins for him would have been thrown out.

  35. McCain would be elected President . . . and Biden would be elected Vice-President by the Senate.

    Yuck.

  36. Actually, he can.

    Sure, he can’t win a majority in the Electoral College minus Texas. But the Electoral College is not a plurality system, it’s a pure-majority system. If McCain holds Obama to 269 or fewer EVs, the election goes to the House of Representatives, where the voting will be by states.

    The Republicans are highly likely to control at least 26 state Congressional delegations, which means McCain would be elected President . . . and Biden would be elected Vice-President by the Senate.

    Actually, Democrats currently control 28/50 state Congressional delegations. Republicans control 20/50, and 2 are tied (Kansas and Arizona), and most of the pickup opportunities in the House are flipping Red to Blue, not the other way. It’d take something serious to cause that much movement in the Congressional elections, and something like that would result in a decisive Presidential election.

    If this is close enough to go to the House, Obama wins.

  37. This was originally reported on the 27th (early in the day). The representative from the Elections Division said they had not turned anything in. The next day a different representative form the SoS said that they had found the documents that were filed and amendments were expected after the conventions. There have been a couple more statements. I said this morning that if they hadn’t shown the documents to the public yet that I can no longer trust any documents that turn up. After this comment –

    “I called the SOS and the legal department said the parties had filed in time and will be filing amendments for their candidates. I asked for the dates on the filings and they put me on hold and then said they couldn’t locate anyone with that information. They took my name and number and said they’ll call me back with the dates. If they do I’ll report those here. I encourage someone else to try and see if they have better luck before the three day weekend.”

    I believe that holds even more true now. It’s been almost two days since they said they found the documents and forget even showing them or scanning them, they don’t even know the dates for when it was filed. Unfortunately, anything they come up with probably be false. (chances are that they can’t get the TX chair of the GOP or Democratic parties to sign since they are out of state for events or the conventions (not that I know they or there), so they are delaying this as long as possible and likely will resolve it over the weekend.

  38. Just to follow up on my earlier point, Democrats currently hold 28/50 of the House delegations, and one of the delegations the Republicans currently hold is Alaska with only 1 member, Don Young. Don Young is currently leading his primary opponent by a very tiny margin in the primary held earlier this week. Polls show that Don Young trails the Democratic candidate for that seat by 10 points, despite coming in as the incumbent, while Don Young’s primary opponent is polling 5 points ahead of the Democratic candidate.

    If Don Young holds on and wins the primary, he’s likely to lose the election, and that will put another House delegation in the hands of the Democrats.

  39. would any newly elected representatives or senators have been sworn in by the time the congress would be called upon to decide who the POTUS and VP would be? if not, all you need to know is the current composition of congressional delegations, assuming no one in congress dies in the next few months

  40. Hell no, they shouldn’t be given a pass. If people want to vote for them, let them write in their names. And if TX let’s them on the ballot, the LP should sue, sue, sue.

  41. All I know is that if it was NY, the board of elections would have no compunction about keeping both the Democrat and the Republican nominees off the ballot. The commissioners (appointed half by each of the top 2 parties) would see to that, and they’d rather spite each other’s party than make a deal to look the other way. It’d take an act of the legislature to put them on the ballot.

    That’s just the way it is in NY, where throwing candidates off the ballot is considered good form by their opponents. But if the Democrat & Republican lines in NY were blank for the presidential nominees, they’d still have little trouble getting their electors elected via the minor parties that will have cross endorsed them.

  42. I’m surprised they even have to register. As I recall, there are plenty of states where the D and R candidates don’t have to petition to be on the ballot, they’re automatically on it. Only third parties must petition every year (with sufficient signatures) in order to be on the ballot, to the eternal pain of the Libertarian Party.

  43. if the lp missed filing dates you can be sure they would not be allowed on the ballot

  44. I’m not a lawyer, but the statute seems pretty clear to me:
    http://tlo2.tlc.state.tx.us/statutes/docs/EL/content/htm/el.011.00.000192.00.htm#192.001.00

    If this wasn’t a real issue, why did the Republican Party rush to put McCain/Palin on the ballot within hours of the Palin announcement–before either candidate has even been formally nominated by the party?

    And here’s an interesting tidbit: The deadline used to be 60 days prior to election day. It was changed to 70 days by an act of the Texas legislature only three years ago (H.B. No. 2339, eff. September 1, 2005)
    http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/79R/billtext/html/HB02339F.HTM

    Evidently, the Republican and Democratic legislators didn’t read the bill that they passed (nor did the Governor when he signed it into law). Otherwise the parties would surely have been aware of this change.

  45. Just an update, right before they left for the long weekend, it looks like they added McCain and Obama to the ballot. Not totally unexpected. They have until Tuesday to forge the documents (unless they are open sat/sun for some reason).

  46. If the House installed a different candidate than won the popular vote, the resulting furor from the losing side would make the aftermath of the 2000 election look like nothing.

  47. Only third parties must petition every year (with sufficient signatures) in order to be on the ballot, to the eternal pain of the Libertarian Party.

    In Kansas we have ballot access luckily. Just have to pay filing fees.

  48. Actually, this could be an entertaining scenario:

    Suppose McCain wins the popular vote but the electoral vote is tied, and the Dems retain their statewise majority in the House.

    If they choose McCain to be president, the Dem base will freak out because they blew their chance to end the war and bring about hope and change and stuff. The 2010 primaries might be pretty tough on Dem incumbents.

    If they choose Obama, the rest of the electorate will freak because they “stole the election”. That’ll sure give a shot in the arm to the GOP efforts to take back Congress in 2010 and beyond.

  49. Why doesn’t someone who is a resident of an applicable jurisdiction in Texas call the local sheriff, or the DPS, and, ahem, ‘publicly’ report a suspected forgery? Sort of force the LE’s to, ya’ know, E the Ls. . .

  50. I’m surprised they even have to register. As I recall, there are plenty of states where the D and R candidates don’t have to petition to be on the ballot, they’re automatically on it.

    The parties may be on the ballot, but not the candidates. How does the board of elections know who the party’s candidates are unless the party files the papers? Even if they read the newspapers and knew who the candidates for POTUS & VPOTUS were, how they gonna know who the candidates for presidential electors are? And since that’s who you’re really voting for, isn’t that an important requirement?

  51. the elections are such a farce. voting for the lesser of the evils is absurd. the fact that the democrats and republicans missed the filing deadline in texas means absolutely nothing to the establishment.

    i am from georgia and i have met bob barr. he was at a birthday party that i was attending. he knew that my wife was from the netherlands. he mentioned to me that the dutch government would sure know how to deal with illegal drugs. i mentioned to him that marijuana use was legal in the netherlands. this discussion came at a time when bob barr was a u.s. attorney and was reknowned for prosecuting drug dealers and users.

    he is an aweful representative of the libertarian party. as far as i am concerned he is just about the same as mccain or obama.

    if he makes a big deal about the filing blunder by th d and r candidates, it will go over like a lead balloon. it will not have any traction with the media.

    if he wants to gain votes then he had better point out libertarian slutions to establishment immoral and divisive chicanery,
    not this non-issue of missing the filing deadline.

    his priorities stink because he has not a principled libertarian. he is just a showboat candidate, period.

  52. gary – the LP convention is over. Go vote for someone else. Like it or lump it.

  53. Isn’t it a shame for a country that calls itself a “free democarcy” and that starts exporting this scheme to other countries to not even allow their own citizens to start parties easily (even though they probably lose?).

    I am sorry, but that is pretty aristocratic =)

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