Utah: Judge strikes down Utah law requiring parties to open primaries | The Salt Lake Tribune

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the state cannot force political parties to open their primaries to unaffiliated voters, a move that will allow the Utah Republican Party to continue to close its primaries and complicate a potential signature-gathering path to the primary ballot. U.S. District Judge David Nuffer signaled during a hearing last week that he would likely strike down the open-primary provision of SB54, as judges in other districts have repeatedly done. SB54 sought to increase voter participation in primaries by forcing the parties to allow the state’s 610,000 unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in the primary elections. But Nuffer said that encroaches on the party’s First Amendment right to association.

Missouri: Lawsuit challenges county’s exclusion of third-party candidates in special elections | Call

If Concord resident Cindy Redburn gets her way, Republican Tony Pousosa and Democrat Kevin O’Leary will not be the only candidates facing off in the April 7 special election for the 6th District County Council seat. The Constitution Party, Redburn and south county residents who say they want to vote for Constitution Party candidate Redburn filed a lawsuit Friday against St. Louis County over the county Charter’s exclusion of third parties from special elections like the one for the 6th District seat. The lawsuit alleges the Charter’s clause that only allows major parties in special elections is unconstitutional. The Charter clause allowing only Democrats and Republicans to run candidates in special elections has gone unchallenged since the county Charter was adopted in 1979, until now. “I was a little bit astounded when I first realized it and then decided that this couldn’t be unchallenged,” Redburn said of the specific exclusion of third parties from the rare special elections.

South Dakota: Complaints surface about fall election | Argus Leader

The Minnehaha County Commission pushed off until Nov. 18 a review of the general election, marked by ballot counting that did not conclude until the next morning and questions about why some voters received incorrect ballots. Three people didn’t want to wait. They used the public comment portion of a commission meeting Wednesday to voice complaints and observations about the election. Commissioners listened to the testimony but did not comment. Lori Stacey, head of South Dakota’s Constitution Party, brought a broadly focused indictment of the election to commissioners’ attention. She claimed two of her party’s candidates, Curtis Strong, who planned to run for governor and Charles Haan who was going to run for the U.S. House, were incorrectly denied a place on the ballot. Having faced no primary opposition, they should have automatically been on the general election ballot, Stacey said. Instead, Secretary of State Jason Gant and Attorney General Marty Jackley ruled those candidates did not meet the threshold of petition signatures necessary to get on the ballot.

Tennessee: Third parties still fighting for ballot access | Associated Press

Four years after the Libertarian Party of Tennessee filed its first lawsuit to get on the ballot, the group is still fighting for access in a state that has some of the most restrictive rules in the country for smaller political parties. Since 2010, the Libertarians, the Green Party of Tennessee and the Constitution Party of Tennessee have been in near-constant litigation with the state. They have won several victories, and the legislature has changed the law slightly. But the parties say the hurdles for them to get their names on the ballot are still unreasonably high. A 2010 federal court ruling in one of the cases stated that Tennessee was one of only two states where no third parties had qualified for the ballot over the previous decade. Individual candidates can appear on Tennessee’s ballot simply by submitting a petition with 25 signatures, but they will appear as independents unless their parties have qualified to appear on the ballot as well. For a party to appear on the ballot, it must collect more than 40,000 signatures. If the party wants to stay on the ballot, one of its candidates must garner more than 80,000 votes.

Wyoming: Judge approves settlement in campaign finance suit | Associated Press

A provision of Wyoming law that restricted third-party political candidate fundraising is unconstitutional and can’t be enforced, a federal judge has ordered. U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson on Tuesday approved a settlement agreement ending a lawsuit challenging the fundraising restriction. Jennifer Young of Torrington, running for secretary of state as a Constitution Party candidate, and one of her supporters, Donald Wills of Pine Bluffs, sued the state. They challenged a state campaign finance law that limited fundraising for candidates whose parties don’t participate in primary elections. Johnson approved a settlement agreement that the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office reached with Young and Wills. The order states the fundraising restriction is unconstitutional and can’t be enforced.

Tennessee: Green, Constitution parties push for recognition | Tennesseean

Most voters will think only about Republicans and Democrats when they go to the polls this summer and fall, but a few political activists want at least some Tennesseans to consider alternatives. Representatives of the Green Party and Constitution Party say they will push to establish a foothold in Tennessee politics following years of battles in the courts and state legislature. They would appear to have their best opportunity in decades to do so. A federal judge has ordered state officials to let Greens and Constitutionalists appear on the ballot for just the second time ever. And the races at the top of the ballot are likely to be landslides, which could make it easier for them to pitch Tennesseans on casting third-party votes in protest.

Tennessee: Lawmakers refuse to put more parties on ballot | The Tennesean

The Green Party and Constitution Party may appear on the November ballot. But Libertarians are likely to be left out. The Senate State & Local Government Committee rejected a bill Tuesday that would have vastly reduced the number of signatures minor parties must collect to appear on the ballot in Tennessee. The legislation follows a series of lawsuits brought by minor parties challenging the state’s current requirement that they get about 40,000 signatures (2.5 percent of the total number of ballots cast in the most recent gubernatorial election) to be recognized. Senate Bill 1091 would have cut that number to 2,500. Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle — whose party is in no danger of falling off the ballot, despite its recent performance — filed the bill and argued it was time to settle the matter.

New Mexico: Constitution Party sues secretary of state for ballot access | The Rock River Times

July 18, the Constitution Party of New Mexico (CPNM) received a letter from Secretary of State Dianna Duran (SOS) stating they are not qualified for ballot access. However, she did not follow state Elections Code that requires a notice of disqualification no later than March 15. The SOS did not notify county clerks of the removal and non-qualification of the party within the required time frame, and failed to notify registered members of the party within 45 days of the non-qualification of the party. Party members did not receive notice until Nov. 1, a full six months past the deadline. In addition, the SOS broke precedent: from 1997 through 2011, when a party submitted a successful ballot access petition, as CPNM did, it attained ballot status the next two elections, not just one. Nov. 25, Jon Barrie, chairman of the NMCP, filed an Emergency Petition for Writ of Mandamus with the New Mexico Supreme Court to reverse Dianna Duran’s ruling — Nov. 26, the court asked the SOS to respond by Dec. 14.

Voting Blogs: New Mexico Secretary of State Revives 21-Year Old Discredited Attorney General Opinion to Remove Green and Constitution Parties from Ballot | Ballot Access News

New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna J. Duran, a Republican, recently removed the Green Party and the Constitution Party from the ballot, even though both parties successfully petitioned in 2012 and even though, for the last seventeen years, New Mexico law has been interpreted to mean that when a party successfully petitions for party status, it gets the next two elections, not just one election. The Secretary of State found a discredited 1992 Attorney General’s Opinion that says a party should be removed, after just one election, if it runs for either Governor or President and fails to get one-half of 1%. Yet, the Opinion says if a party qualifies by petition and then doesn’t run for either Governor or President, it remains on the ballot for the next election.