Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Its Official, Georgia's Ballot Access Laws Continue to Suck

Hot off the Presses from Georgia LP HQ!

Libertarian Party Blasts Coffield vs. Handel Ruling, Pushes For Ballot Access

The 11th circuit court decision on March 19th in the Coffield vs. Handel case upholds limiting choice for Georgia voters, as they confirm a lower court's dismissal for "failure to state a claim" as the plaintiff challenged the Constitutionality of Georgia's 5% rule for signatures necessary for independent and "political body" candidates to get on the ballot.

Georgia law states that in order for a candidate to get on the ballot he must turn in petitions equaling 5 percent of the registered voters from the district he plans to run in. If a candidate plans to run statewide, he or she must get signatures from 1 percent of registered voters in the state.

The 1 percent rule also applies to parties attempting to receive a line on the ballot. Provided they are successful they are still not a "party" as defined by Georgia law, they are a "political body" and they must receive 1 percent of the registered vote in any statewide race to maintain that status. In order to receive an automatic ballot line for all candidates and major party status, a candidate for governor or president must receive 20 percent of the popular vote nationally in a general election. If a party falls below 20 percent, it loses major party status.

As noted previously, Richard Winger at Ballot Access News has stated that Georgia has the worst ballot access laws in the nation. “There is no other state with a law that has kept all minor party or independent candidates off the ballot for such an important office as US House for decades. Every state has had minor party and/or independent candidates on the ballot in recent years for president, and US Senate (although one must go back to 2000 to make this completely true, for president, because of Oklahoma),” says Winger. “Every state except Georgia has had multiple minor party and/or independent candidates for US House during either of the last two elections. Georgia law for US House is absolutely the worst ballot access law of any type in the nation.”

"With several options to choose from in this legislative session, this decision furthers the case for reforming the draconian ballot access laws here in the state," says Brett Bittner, Operations Director of the Libertarian Party of Georgia. "Reform is needed, and the state legislature has the opportunity, whether they pass HB 1257, HB 1141, HB 1425, or SB 359, to show what they think about giving Georgia voters a real choice at the ballot box."

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