Editorials: Supreme Court continues record of hostility to minor parties and independent candidates | Richard Winger/The Hill

Among the 50 most populous countries, the United States and Nigeria are the only nations in the world with exactly two political parties represented in the national legislative body. (For a list of the 50 most populous countries and the number of parties represented in their legislative bodies, click here.) Election laws and debate practices in the United States make it extremely difficult, almost impossible, for the voters to launch a new major party. Consequently, in election after election, there is no realistic chance for a new party to displace either the Republican or Democratic Parties. This state of affairs is partly because the U.S. Supreme Court, for the last 23 years, has fostered the status quo and upheld laws that protect the two major parties from competition. Starting in June 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear every case filed by minor party or independent candidates against restrictive laws that bar them from the ballot or debates or otherwise injure them, with only a single exception: a case from Georgia in which Libertarian Party candidates challenged the state law requiring all candidates for state office to be tested for illegal drugs. Setting aside that exception, there are now 54 examples when minor parties and independent candidates asked for help from the court, and were refused, during the period from 1992 to the present. (To see a list of such instances that occurred before 2012, click here.)

Arizona: 9th Circuit Endorses Arizona Ballot Form | Courthouse News Service

Arizona may continue to use a ballot registration form that lists only the two largest political parties in the state, the Ninth Circuit ruled Friday. The Arizona Libertarian and Green parties, and three of their members, sued then-Secretary of State Ken Bennett in 2011 after the state legislature decided that only the two largest political parties would be listed by name on voter registration forms. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in Tucson Federal Court claimed the statute discriminated against Green and Libertarian voters, who now had to write out their party affiliation in a small box, forcing them to “abbreviate, and run the risk that their abbreviation is illegible or misread.”

Pennsylvania: Minor parties get court win in Pa. ballot-access lawsuit | Associated Press

A federal judge threw out provisions in Pennsylvania law on Friday that he said make it unconstitutionally difficult for independent or minor political party candidates to get onto ballots because of the threat of costly court challenges. The decision was cheered by ballot-access advocates who regard Pennsylvania as harboring the nation’s toughest barriers to candidates who are not Republicans or Democrats. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel in Philadelphia targets the financial penalties that judges can impose on candidates who lose a court challenge to the validity of the signatures of registered voters on their nomination petitions.

Arizona: Federal court upholds election law | Arizona Daily Star

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a 2011 Arizona law designed by Republicans to slow the tide of people not registering with their party. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that the statute says voter registration forms can specifically list the names of only the two parties with the highest number of members, and list them in the order of most adherents. That means the Republicans and Democrats. And anyone who wants to register as a Libertarian or otherwise has to fill in that party’s name on a line that’s less than an inch long. But Judge Wallace Tashima, writing for the three-judge panel, said that differentiation was not enough of a burden on minor parties — or those who want to sign up for them — to make it illegal.

Ohio: Federal judge upholds tighter ballot access rules for Ohio’s minor political parties | Cleveland Plain Dealer

A federal judge ruled Monday that stiffer rules for minor parties to gain access to Ohio’s ballot are constitutional and do not impose an unfair burden on the parties. District Judge Michael Watson ruled that the changes to state law, approved in 2013, were not overly burdensome toward minority parties forming or electors casting votes for their candidates. And, Watson held, the state of Ohio has legitimate and important interests that the law addresses. “It is rational for the state of Ohio to limit minor parties’ participation in primary elections because minor party primaries are typically uncontested, voter turnout is low, and the additional costs of adding uncontested minor party candidates to a primary ballot is unwarranted,” Watson wrote.

New York: New York’s crazily complicated ballots, explained | The Washington Post

Even if New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lost his Democratic primary on Tuesday, he’d still be on the ballot in November — as a candidate for three other parties. That seems unlikely, but it’s not the extent of Cuomo’s ballot issues. If insurgent candidate Tim Wu beats Cuomo’s chosen running mate, former congresswoman Kathy Hochul, Cuomo could actually end up stealing votes in November from none other than himself. Wu, the Columbia law professor who was recently endorsed by the New York Times, would be Cuomo’s Democratic running mate if he wins Tuesday. But several other minor parties in the state have already sided with the Cuomo-Hochul ticket. And while it would seem that these minor parties could simply swap in a Cuomo-Wu ticket, that actually might not be the case, because they all need at least 50,000 votes on their line to automatically be on the ballot in the far-more-exciting 2016 presidential election. Why might Cuomo wind up running against himself? Well, it has everything to do with New York’s long and confusing ballots. Below, we explain.

Pennsylvania: Minor parties win right to challenge election code | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A decade after Ralph Nader‘‍s failed attempt to get on the presidential ballot in Pennsylvania, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia ruled Wednesday that minor parties should get another day in court. The 54-page opinion stated the Constitution, Green and Libertarian parties have the standing to challenge the constitutionality of two provisions of state election code regulating ballot access. Third-party candidates are required to submit nomination petitions with signatures, and then to bear administrative and legislative costs if those petitions are successfully called into question.

Europe: Fringe Parties May Gain in European Parliament Voting | New York Times

Starting with Britain and the Netherlands, Europe began voting on Thursday for a new European Parliament, an election in which fringe parties of the right and left are expected to capitalize on low voter turnout and anger over immigration and anemic economies in the wake of the financial crisis. Results will not be officially announced until Sunday night but exit polls cited by Dutch media late on Thursday indicated that the far-right Party of Freedom, led by anti-immigration maverick Geert Wilders, had performed less well than forecast. In a 10-party Dutch race, Mr. Wilders’ party, weakened by campaign blunders and infighting, placed third or fourth behind solidly pro-European political forces, worse than its second place finish at the last European elections in 2009, Dutch media reported. Whether the expected success for the fringe parties elsewhere marks a lasting shift in Europe — or whether it will die away in future elections — the results may provide Europe’s extremists an outsized platform to influence the politics of their home nations and beyond. With centrist groups struggling to contain radicals on both flanks, the new parliament is expected to have more populist lawmakers than ever before from parties opposed to free trade and European integration.