Saturday, January 1, 2011

Georgia's Draconian Ballot Access Laws are Back in the News!

Most suitable for the first post of 2011.

Matthew Cardinale over at Atlanta Progressive News gives us an extremely detailed update on the progress of Coffield vs. Kemp as it winds it's way to the Supreme Court. Maybe. The readership might remember several posts here at Bludgeon and Skewer that discussed Coffield v. Kemp and it's potential impact on Georgia's 1943 Jim Crow Ballot access laws. Mr. Cardinale does a fine job of boiling all the elapsed time and legal maneuvering into a easily digestible story that should elevate the blood pressure of any citizen in Georgia that reads it.

Some of the more pertinent bits focus on the absolute failure of last elections cycles independent candidates to achieve ballot access through petitioning. Quote:

In the amici curiae brief, the organizations argue that while the State does not collect data on how many candidates have tried and failed to gain access to the ballot, that in 2010 alone, no fewer than nine independent and political body candidates tried and failed to get on the ballot [a political body is a political organization that is not recognized as a political party in the State of Georgia].

The article also cites Libertarian stalwart Brad Ploeger's run for State house in addition to  Guvna Purdue's handpicked State School Superintendent Brad Bryant's inability to satisfy the petition requirements despite the support of Georgia's sitting governor and the republican party apparatus shilling for signatures for him. 

The last bit of the article compares similar action in Ohio that occurred three years before Jenness vs. Fortson, in which the US Supreme Court overturned Ohio's ballot access laws. Quote:

However, the organizations argue that in fact, Georgia's petition requirements were actually higher the ones struck down in Ohio in 1968.  Ohio's requirement was 15 percent of actual voters.  Georgia's requirement was 5 percent of registered voters.  However, because most registered voters do not vote, Georgia's law actually required more signatures.

So let's see what the guys and gals down to the statehouse do this session about ballot access in Georgia. Since we're effectively a one party state again, will our current crop of grandees continue to shut out other political voices and maintain their grip on power by keeping the sandbox all to themselves or will they broaden the playing field?

Bets, anyone?


  1. Thanks for running this story. The US Supreme Court has put the Coffield case on its conference for January 14, but they won't say what they decided until January 17.

  2. Anonymous,

    Absolutely no problem. I should have been writing more on this topic but times have been busy. We'll have to wait and see what developes on the 17th this month