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National: Libertarians, Greens ready lawsuit against Commission on Presidential Debates | The Washington Post

The Libertarian Party and Green Party and their 2012 candidates for president are readying a legal complaint against the Commission on Presidential Debates, hoping that a new legal argument — an anti-trust argument — will break the “duopoly” that’s dominated the stage. The legal complaint, which was sent early to The Washington Post, argues that a “cognizable political campaign market” is being corrupted by the commission’s rules. The commission, a private entity set up after the League of Women Voters’ 1992 debates allowed third party candidate Ross Perot to participate, has withstood yearly assaults from the likes of Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan, and former Congressman Bob Barr. None of them have gotten past a 1999 commission rule: No candidate gets onstage unless he or she is polling at 15 percent or better.

Full Article: Libertarians, Greens ready lawsuit against Commission on Presidential Debates - The Washington Post.

Canada: Early election call catches some territorial parties off guard | CBC News

The longest federal election campaign in recent history is officially underway, and the early election call has caught some riding associations in the territories off guard. While candidates have been confirmed for the Conservative, Liberal, and Green parties in Nunavut, the NDP are scrambling to get their affairs in order. The NDP have not yet confirmed a candidate, though Clyde River mayor Jerry Natanine has announced he is seeking the nomination. “Certainly, we didn’t expect [the early call],” said Doug Workman, the vice president of the NDP riding association for Nunavut. “We had heard rumours coming from Ottawa that it might occur, but by no means was our riding association ready for the call.”  

Full Article: Early election call catches some territorial parties off guard - North - CBC News.

Latvia: Latvia elects Vejonis, EU’s first Green president | AFP

Latvia’s parliament on Wednesday elected Defence Minister Raimonds Vejonis as the Baltic state’s new president, making him the 28-member European Union’s first Green Party head of state. His victory comes as the small NATO and eurozone member of two million people is grappling with security concerns amid heightened tensions with Russia, and Vejonis acknowledged the troubled ties with the former Soviet-era master in his first speech after being named to the post. “I would like to improve relations with Russia… but while Russian rockets and heavy weapons remain in Ukraine, that’s not really possible,” the 48-year-old Vejonis said after winning the secret ballot in which 55 out of 100 legislators backed him.

Full Article: Latvia elects Vejonis, EU's first Green president - Yahoo News.

Voting Blogs: Ballot Access Cost to Third Parties | State of Elections

Pennsylvania’s ballot access process is one of the most hotly-contested in the country. On July 9, 2014, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Constitution, Green, and Libertarian Parties of Pennsylvania did have standing to bring a claim challenging Pennsylvania’s “method of checking ballot access petitions.” The plaintiffs challenged two provisions of Pennsylvania’s election code, Title 25 §§ 2911(b) and 2937 arguing that combined the two provisions are unconstitutional. The argument stems from the requirement of §2911(b) that minor parties and political organizations must obtain a certain number of signatures to get on the ballot. However, under §2937 if those signatures are successfully challenged the candidates may be held financially liable. Read together, these two provisions arguably act as a barrier for candidates of minor parties and political organizations. The appellate court merely ruled on standing and did not intend to prejudge the merits of the case.

Full Article: Pennsylvania Ballot Access Cost to Third Parties : State of Elections.

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.

Full Article: Third parties still fighting for ballot access - WSMV Channel 4.

Brazil: Death Lifts Opposition in Brazil Vote | Wall Street Journal

Brazil’s Socialist Party, whose dark-horse presidential candidate died in a plane crash last week, now has a chance of making it to a runoff and even winning the October election, a new poll showed on Monday. Barely a week ago, Marina Silva was a vice-presidential hopeful running with Eduardo Campos, who was polling a distant third with about 8% of the vote at the time of his death, leaving Ms. Silva poised to take his place at the top of the ticket. The survey by polling firm Datafolha showed Ms. Silva—whose candidacy hasn’t yet been officially announced by her party, but is widely expected in coming days—not only appears be a stronger candidate than Mr. Campos, but would have a viable shot at defeating incumbent President Dilma Rousseff of the leftist Workers’ Party in the event of a second-round runoff vote.

Full Article: Death Lifts Opposition in Brazil Vote - WSJ.

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.

Full Article: Green, Constitution parties push for recognition in TN.

Editorials: California’s top-two primary a failure | Timm Herdt/Findlaw

Last month, the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California published a report assessing the early effects of California’s top-two primary system, first implemented two years ago. “To the surprise of many,” it said, “turnout was the second-lowest on record.” Time to update that report: In the top-two primary’s second showing, turnout was the lowest on record. Based on Election Day returns, statewide turnout on Tuesday was 17.8 percent. That number will go up some, perhaps 6 or 7 points, after all the late-arriving mail-in ballots are counted and the provisional ballots sorted out, but the bottom line will still be dismal. In all likelihood, turnout will fall below the previous low of 28.2 percent. And then it can be reported that the first two experiments with the top-two primary resulted in the lowest and third-lowest voter turnouts on record. The problem is, it’s not an experiment. It’s written into the California Constitution and cannot be changed without another vote of the people. It’s time to start having that discussion.

Full Article: OPINION: State's top-two primary a failure.

Ohio: Elections officials point to ghost in machine for voter registration error | Toledo Blade

Lucas County elections officials are blaming a technical glitch for switching the party registrations of as many as 167 voters, including Democratic Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates and Republican Toledo Municipal Judge Tim Kuhlman, to the Green Party. Sean Nestor, a sharp-eyed local political analyst and candidate of the Green Party, checked out a filing on the Ohio Secretary of State‘s Web site and spotted that a disproportionate number of people pulled ballots in the May 6 for the Green Party, which espouses progressive, pro-environmental policies. Mr. Nestor, who ran unsuccessfully as a Green candidate for Toledo City Council in 2013, noticed that most of the new converts were in South Toledo precincts 16G and 16H. Both of those precincts voted at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School. Of the 167 supposed Green voters, 125 voted Republican and 10 voted Democratic in the 2012 primary.

Full Article: Elections officials point to ghost in machine for voter registration error - Toledo Blade.

California: Top-two primary might be bad for small-party candidates | Los Angeles Times

When California voters decided to change the way the state’s primary elections work, the move was cast as an effort to moderate a state Capitol gripped by polarization. If the top two vote-getters in a primary faced off against one another in November regardless of their party affiliation, the reasoning went, hard-nosed politicians who typically put party purity above all else would be forced to court less partisan voters. That could mean more centrists elected to office, more political compromise and better governance. But with the approach of only the second election since the enactment of the “jungle” primary — the first featuring candidates for statewide office — some argue that the change has had a decidedly undemocratic effect, muzzling the voices of small-party candidates.  The Green Party, the American Independent Party and other minor groups will now rarely — if ever — appear on the general election ballot, even though they represent 1.2 million people. And they could eventually find themselves out of existence in California, the critics fear. “It’s just a violation of voting rights,” said Richard Winger, a Libertarian and publisher of the San Francisco-based Ballot Access News. “Because the right to vote includes the right of the choice.”

Full Article: Top-two primary might be bad for small-party candidates - latimes.com.

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.

Full Article: TN lawmakers refuse to put more parties on ballot.

Maryland: Baltimore legislator wants to invite third parties to the political process | Baltimore City Paper

Baltimore City state Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-46th District) is worried about the state of democracy in Baltimore, across Maryland, and countrywide. “Voting is the fundamental building block of any democracy,” he says, “and the numbers of those voting is a smaller percentage than it should or could be, particularly if you look at age cohorts of young and middle-aged voters.” This creates a “looming” problem for democracy, he concludes, so lawmakers need to find “new ways to reach citizens no matter their political persuasion,” so that society has “an informed populace that engages in the process” of electing its leaders. The dismal state of voting affairs in Baltimore City were made manifest, to much public hand-wringing, in the 2011 mayoral election. In the Democratic primary—the tally that, by default, determines the winner in this nearly one-party burg—victor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake got 38,829 votes, 8 percent of Baltimore’s voting-age population. Less than 10 percent of some districts’ electorates backed the winners in the City Council races.

Full Article: Rocking the Vote - News and Features - Baltimore City Paper.

Europe: Online voting flops for European Green Party | Deutsche Welle

When its four candidates for European elections were unveiled in November, the European Green Party showcased its contenders with an air of optimism. By the time the victors were declared two months later, however, that enthusiasm had deflated. Even the winners, Franziska Keller and Jose Bove, were hardly in a celebratory mood. Barely more than 22,000 EU citizens used the Green mobilization experiment, “Green Primary,” from which the two top Green candidates were selected from four to represent the Greens in the upcoming European elections. With a total of 375 million voters across the EU, the paltry participation numbers were a flop. The Greens had originally set to mobilize 100,000 participants – a far cry from actual turnout.

Full Article: Online voting flops for European Green Party | Europe | DW.DE | 30.01.2014.

Voting Blogs: The European Green primary experiment | openDemocracy

The Scottish referendum this year, whatever the result, will mark one significant change in British politics, with 16 and 17-year-olds being able to vote “yes” or “no” on the nation’s constitutional future. (Find out more here if that applies to you and you haven’t already registered.) But this won’t be a first, for 16 and 17-years-olds, all around the United Kingdom, will have an earlier opportunity to cast their vote – in the European Greens primary election, now open and continuing until January 28. Anyone aged 16 or over, who can indicate with a simple tick that they support the Greens principles, is entitled to cast their ballot – an opening up of democracy that is another European first.

Full Article: The European Green primary experiment | openDemocracy.

Arizona: Green Party decertified for low numbers | Your West Valley

Arizonans may not get a chance to vote Green at the next election. Secretary of State Ken Bennett announced Wednesday that the number of people who selected to register as party members has dropped below the legal minimum. That leaves just four official parties: Republican, Democrat, Libertarian and Americans Elect. And that last party also is in trouble: Bennett said its registration also does not have sufficient registrants. But he said that, by virtue of being a new party in Arizona in 2011, is entitled to keep its ballot status through the 2014 election. Bennett said that state law requires a political party to have at least 5 percent of the total number of votes cast for governor or president at the most recent election.

National: Republicans target minor parties after election losses | Washington Post

Republican legislators and political activists in several red states are taking steps to make it harder for minor party candidates to make the ballot after a string of elections Democrats won with less than 50 percent of the vote. The Ohio legislature voted earlier this week to require minor parties to collect signatures of 1 percent of the number of voters who cast ballots in the last gubernatorial or presidential election. Libertarians and Green Party members complain that the rule — which would require them to gather about 56,000 signatures to make the 2014 ballot — sets an impossibly high standard. In Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed legislation earlier this year to require candidates running for Congress to collect enough signatures to represent one-third of 1 percent of registered voters in their respective districts. That’s a 40-fold increase in the number of signatures Libertarian Party candidates would have to collect.

Full Article: Republicans target minor parties after election losses.

Luxembourg: Opposition parties eye coalition without Juncker | AFP

Europe’s longest-serving leader Jean-Claude Juncker risked losing power in Luxembourg as three rival parties were set to begin negotiations on Tuesday to form a coalition without him. The heads of the Liberal and Socialist parties said a day after parliamentary elections they would open talks with the Green party, a move that could see Juncker’s centre-right Christian Social People’s party (CSV) ousted, despite winning the largest share of the vote. The 40-year-old head of the Liberal Party, Luxembourg city mayor Xavier Bettel, told journalists he had been given a “mandate” to open talks on forming an unprecedented coalition of the three parties. “We need different policies to pull the country out of crisis,” he said.

Full Article: Luxembourg parties eye coalition without Juncker - FRANCE 24.

Germany: Black-Red, Black-Green? German party coalitions and the new left majority | openDemocracy

Before the September 22 parliamentary elections, much of the foreign coverage of German politics described Angela Merkel, the incumbent candidate for chancellor, as widely tipped to win reelection. Her broad popularity among German voters seemed to exceed many observers’ ability to understand her appeal, but Merkel’s conservative party, the Christian Democratic Union, won a sweeping 41.5% of the vote, appearing to confirm pre-election predictions of success. However, the reporting on her and her opponents’ campaigns often deployed a rather simplified account of the German electoral system that has obscured the actual election outcome. It is true that Merkel won big. Her party even came close to an absolute majority in the Bundestag, which has only ever happened during the tenure of Konrad Adenauer, Germany’s first post-war chancellor and another three-term conservative legend. Merkel and her party were not expecting to reach an absolute majority, so falling short of it was not a loss for her. The disastrous defeat of her coalition partner over the last four years, the Free Democratic Party (FDP), however, will have a real effect on her next term. The FDP’s belly-flop, which resulted in its expulsion from the Bundestag for the first time in post-war history having failed to reach the necessary 5% threshhold, must have been hugely disappointing for Merkel. Then again, during the campaign season there was hushed, and sometimes explicit, speculation about the FDP’s weakness, and what political compromises Merkel would prefer to make if that party did not make it into the Bundestag. Now, Merkel’s CDU and its potential coalition partners have each held internal meetings, and while Merkel’s party is still ostensibly considering whether it would rather govern with the Social Democrats (SPD) or the Greens, it will begin preliminary discussions with the SPD this Friday.

Full Article: Black-Red, Black-Green? German party coalitions and the new left majority | openDemocracy.

Editorials: A vote for fairness in Pennsylvania elections | Lancaster Intelligencer Journal

State Sen. Mike Folmer carries a dog-eared copy of the Pennsylvania Constitution in his breastpocket. When it comes to elections, he opens the booklet to Article 1, Section 5 where it states, “Elections shall be free and equal, and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise thereof.” And then he asks how free and equal elections are in the commonwealth when Republican and Democratic candidates for Congress and row offices need 1,000 signatures to gain access to the ballot while independents or members of a third party are required to obtain upwards of 60,000 signatures. In his view, that makes Pennsylvania’s ballot process unconstitutional. Whether the rules in place are constitutional or not is for the courts to decide. But we agree with him on one count: It’s clearly unfair.

Full Article: A vote for fairness in Pa. elections - Editorial.

Tennessee: Green Party sues over voter ID law | The Tennessean

The Green Party of Tennessee has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to throw out Tennessee’s voter ID law, calling it unconstitutional and unfair to minority voters. Alan Woodruff, an attorney in Gray, Tenn., who has represented the Green Party in previous lawsuits, said he filed the complaint Monday morning in the Eastern District of Tennessee. It names Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins as defendants. “There is no justification for having the photo ID requirement, as there is no such thing as voter fraud,” said Woodruff, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year as the Democratic nominee in the 1st Congressional District and might run again in 2014. “It’s overly burdensome. It affects minorities and the progressive-leaning voter more than the typical Republican conservative, and it was intended to.”

Full Article: Green Party sues over voter ID law | The Tennessean | tennessean.com.