Thursday, September 09, 2004

Some Third Party News 

Bonassus readers with an interest in US third-party politics are encouraged to check in now and again with Ballot Access News. The latest: this useful guide helping voters in every state count the number of ways they can throw away their vote. [All kidding aside, it's a really well-done site and well worth an occasional visit.]

In a move that should cheer Kerry supporters, a Florida judge has had Ralph Nader's name struck from that state's ballot. As the judge in the case noted, there are a lot of court battles to be fought before Nader's final Florida ballot status is certain, but the timing of the decision appears to keep Nader's name off ballots mailed to overseas absentees, at the very least. I'm no lawyer, and I'm certainly no Nader supporter, but the decision looks a bit dicey to me:
[Judge] Davey ruled that the Reform Party is no longer a real political party. Therefore, he held that Nader's certification as the Reform candidate did not meet Florida laws, which require a presidential candidate to get nearly 100,000 voter signatures or be nominated by a national convention...

The judge said there was ample evidence that the party Texas billionaire Ross Perot once headed is barely "a skeleton of its former self," with almost no money, only a handful of candidates in a few states and no influence on issues. But Davey said the basis of his ruling was a long list of legal precedents mandating ballot-qualification rules "must be strictly complied with."

Attorneys Ed Stafman and Michael Olin, representing Maddox and Reform Party members Alan Hermann of Broward County and Candice Wilson of Pinellas County, said the party has been "hijacked" by a small fringe of members. They said fewer than 65 Reform Party members held a teleconference on May 11 and designated Nader in a few states, including Florida, and then fewer than 50 delegates to a "working convention" in Irving, Texas, ratified that choice in August - for the sole purpose of meeting Florida's requirement of a national convention.

"There are more people in this room right now, Your Honor, than there were on that phone call that nominated Ralph Nader in May," Olin told Davey. "We in this room could hold a meeting and nominate a candidate for president, then send out for beer and pizzas - but we would not have the right to get that person on the Florida ballot."


But Assistant Attorney General George Waas and Richard Perez, a lawyer for Hood's department, said Davey risked "disenfranchising" voters who support Nader. Waas said it was dangerous for a court to "intrude on party affairs" and consider how much money a party has to have, how many other states must give it ballot position, how many members it needs or how its convention must be conducted.
Law-knowin' Bonassus readers are asked to comment.

Of course Ol' Ralph's comments should come as no surprise: the ruling, in his view, is the result of political by "nervous" Democrats. "Nervous Democrats," "scared liberals"... I'm still waiting to hear him call somebody a sissy.

[Link via Michael Froomkin]

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