Peru’s smaller political parties continue to drop out of 2016 elections to avoid losing their legal registration for not garnering the minimum elections threshold. A new law establishing a tougher elections threshold cancels the legal status of political parties which do not obtain 5% of the national vote in 2016 elections. The new standard which took effect this year is prompting Peru’s smaller political parties, some of which are headed by high-profile veterans, are withdrawing their candidates from the ballot. Remaining a political party registered with the JNE electoral supervisory carries significant value, or at least being unregistered is a fatal punishment. If a party is unlisted, it has to go through the entire registration process from scratch. Of all the legal paperwork and hurdles, the most difficult requirement is collecting signatures from 3% of the country’s voters, which in 2011 amounted to 493,992. The new law allows parties to abstain from participating in one election cycle without losing its inscription. So the parties performing poorly in the polls are opting to sit out in 2016 in order to regroup for the next election season, as opposed to taking their chances now with an insurmountable downside.
It’s not that Gov. Tom Wolf opposes a federal judge’s order to make life easier for third-party political candidates. In fact, a spokesman said, Mr. Wolf supports legislation to do just that. But the Wolf administration says it isn’t sure how to respond to the ruling itself, which is why it’s appealing to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “The governor certainly supports access for minor and aspiring parties,” Wolf spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan said. Still, a July opinion by U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel “left open questions that require resolution.” Pennsylvania law requires minor-party candidates seeking statewide office to obtain tens of thousands of signatures to appear on the November ballot. Democrats and Republicans need no more than 2,000 signatures to compete in the primary, where success guarantees a ballot spot in November.
Canada: More than two dozen ‘third parties’ have registered in hopes of influencing federal election | National Post
Dozens of groups with their own political agendas could, combined, spend millions in this federal election campaign trying to influence voters. These so-called “third parties” (they aren’t actually political parties) are registered to advocate and run advertising during the federal election campaign. They include public and private-sector unions; an anything-but-Conservative veterans group; animal rights supporters; the small-government National Citizens Coalition; environmental groups; the Canadian Medical Association and even one called “Voters Against Harper.” To date, more than two dozen third parties have registered with Elections Canada. Many will run ads either nationally or in specific ridings to support their agendas. Others will rely on grassroots approaches to targeting voters. Their goals include boosting funding for the CBC, improving seniors’ care, restoring door-to-door mail delivery, securing better services for veterans, electoral reform, and strategic voting, to name a few.
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.
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.
New Jersey: Gloucester County ballot draw business as usual, while third parties see change in sight | NJ.com
It was business as usual for Gloucester County Clerk Jim Hogan on Monday afternoon. He was joined by his staff and a handful of party members and candidates as he drew names for the November general election ballot, something he’s done twice a year for more than 15 years. Third-party advocates, however, are hoping for a new routine next time around. At exactly 3 p.m., Hogan began dropping tiny glass vials stuffed with candidates names into a eight-sided wooden tumbler, locking a small door on one side, shaking it to the left, the right, over his head, left and right again, before unlocking the hatch and pulling out names and handing them to Elections Supervisor Tiffany Pindale. She carefully pulled each piece of paper out of the vial with long red tweezers, and they repeated the semi-annual ritual over and over again for the next 55 minutes to decide the ballot placement for the U.S. Senate, Congressional and local nonpartisan school board races.
New Jersey: Third parties say Democrats and Republicans shouldn’t get top ballot spots this year | Star-Ledger
With all 21 county clerks about to draw candidate positions for the general election, some New Jersey third parties are preparing to take legal action to get their candidates equal billing with Democrats and Republicans in November. At issue is the state’s law that has allowed the Democratic and Republican Parties to get the two top slots on the ballot every November. If the two major parties get priority, officials in at least two political organizations — the Democratic-Repubilcans and the Libertarians — say they’ll sue. “Either the Libertarian Party and people of New Jersey will have won a history victory for ballot equality, or we’re going to have a historic battle on our hands,” said Patrick McKnight , chairman of the Libertarian Party. “I’m hoping for the former, but preparing for the latter.” Fred LaVergne, a “Democratic-Republican” candidate Congress in the 3rd District, said he plans a separate suit. County clerks hold drawings to determine where candidates go on the ballot after the Secretary of State certifies the primary election results. But under New Jersey law, political parties get a special “party column” if, in their primary elections, they received at least 10 percent of the total number of votes that were cast for Assembly candidates in the preceding general election. The party column means they’re at the top of the ballot.
The United States has a rich history of third parties. In 1856, Millard Fillmore made a strong run for president on the Whig-American ticket. Fifty-six years later, Theodore Roosevelt captured 27 percent of the popular vote as the Progressive Party’s candidate. Ross Perot made his mark in 1992 and again, although to a lesser extent, in 1996 with the Reform Party. But the number of votes won don’t tell the whole story. In local and national races, third-party candidates often contribute to an election by pushing the Republican and Democratic candidates on issues they might otherwise avoid. If they do it effectively, as Perot did in 1992, the system benefits. Last week, it became a little harder for third parties to play that role in New Hampshire. On Monday, the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire over a change to state law that makes it more difficult for third parties to collect the signatures needed for inclusion on election ballots.
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.
Ohio: Husted disqualifies 2 Libertarian candidates from May primary after protests | Associated Press
Two Libertarian candidates for statewide office were tossed from Ohio’s primary ballot on Friday in a state election chief’s ruling that sparked immediate plans for a legal challenge. Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a brief statement in disqualifying gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary from the May 6 primary, saying he had adopted a hearing officer’s recommendations. The candidates’ nominating petitions were challenged on two grounds: that signature gatherers failed to comply with Ohio laws requiring them to be either Libertarian or political independent and another requiring them to disclose their employer. Mark Brown, an attorney for the Libertarian Party of Ohio, said the party will challenge the decision in federal court.
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.
Two Democrat state Senators, who are running for Secretary of State on the promise of free and fair elections, are looking into the new ballot qualification rules that are keeping third parties off the June ballot. Under new election rules established with the state’s Top Two primary, it would take the Green Party of California more than 16 years to raise enough money to pay the filing fee for all of its candidates in the June primary.
California’s top-two election system –by its very design– excludes third parties from the general election ballot. But, as the law makes its debut in statewide races, minor parties say it’s undermining their ability to even field candidates for the June primary ballot. “I had planned to run for Secretary of State, but I did not because I could not afford the filing fee,” said C. T. Weber, a member of the Peace and Freedom Party of California’s State Executive Committee. “As a result of Top Two and its implementing legislation, I could no longer get the signatures in lieu of filing fees.” This year, the Peace and Freedom Party only has the resources to get a few candidates on the ballot. They aren’t alone in their struggle. All of California’s “third parties” are battling new ballot qualification procedures established with the Top Two primary, and they say that it’s a fight for their very survival.
As recently as 1998, New York State’s Republican party controlled the governorship, a United States Senate seat, and the mayor’s office in Manhattan. Today, it is greatly diminished, with its sole beachhead of influence in the state senate, where it shares a majority with four independent Democrats. In contrast, the Working Families party (WFP), a 15-year-old left-wing, union-fueled group with just 20,000 members, now holds the whip hand over much of the dominant Democratic party in New York — and is already spreading its wings to other states. The WFP not only was a major force behind Bill de Blasio’s victory for mayor last November; it dominated the rest of the election, too. “They propelled all three citywide officials in New York City into office, and have a huge chunk of the city council allied with them,” says Hank Sheinkopf, a leading Democratic consultant who has worked for Hillary Clinton. “They are a real force.”
Minor political parties fighting to get on the ballot in Tennessee were given a chance to air their views Monday, but they left the Capitol disappointed. In a meeting held on the eve of the start of the 2014 legislative session, representatives for the Libertarian, Constitution and Green parties presented plans that would have slashed the number of signatures needed for minor parties to be recognized by state election officials. But state lawmakers would agree only to a nonbinding recommendation to lower the requirement for local and statehouse races. The decision frustrated representatives for third parties, which have sued state officials over rules that they say have been designed to thwart them.
Editorials: Courts should reject new law governing third parties in Ohio | Aaron Keith Harris/Cleveland Plain Dealer
Most Americans have a general sense that the Republican and Democrat parties have too much control over our political system and electoral process, but, for Ohio voters, Senate Bill 193 is a stark demonstration of just how ruthless those in power work to fend off challenges to the status quo. Passed earlier this month, and signed by Gov. Kasich, SB 193 removes all challenger parties from the Ohio ballot in 2014, and makes it more difficult for them to regain status as a recognized political party in Ohio. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bill Seitz said he introduced the bill because Ohio had no election law in place for minor parties. This is true, having been the case since 2006 when a federal court declared Ohio minor party law unconstitutional in LPO v. Blackwell.
Editorials: An unfair and politically motivated jab at third-party rights in Ohio | Cleveland Plain Dealer
General Assembly Republicans on Wednesday demonstrated once again they can act quickly — when their self-interests are threatened. They passed, and Republican Gov. John Kasich immediately signed, a bill making it harder for candidates from the Libertarian, Green and other third parties to get on Ohio’s ballot. Of course, Republicans said Amended Substitute Senate Bill 193 simply filled a gap in Ohio law. But if that were so, Ohio Libertarians, who have sued to block the new law, would hardly be as vexed as they are. What’s actually at issue isn’t up-to-date law books but splits among Republicans that could threaten Kasich’s 2014 re-election. Much of the anti-Kasich huffing and puffing on the GOP’s right is just that: hot air. Still, a strong statewide showing by a third party or an independent could be significant — and some in the GOP fear that a Libertarian on the November ballot would take votes from Kasich.
Ohio: Legislature passes new ballot-access rules for minor political parties; Libertarians promise lawsuit | cleveland.com
State lawmakers on Wednesday passed new ballot-access requirements for Ohio’s minor political parties, overcoming bipartisan criticism that the changes would block third-party participation in next year’s elections. While the new rules would lower existing thresholds for minor parties to get and stay on the ballot, opponents say the bill is designed to help Gov. John Kasich win re-election by blocking Libertarian Charlie Earl’s gubernatorial candidacy. On Wednesday, Libertarians renewed their pledge to quickly file a lawsuit challenging the changes if they’re signed into law. Under Senate Bill 193, passed by the House and Senate on Wednesday afternoon, third parties would each need to collect about 28,000 signatures, including at least 500 signatures each from at least half of Ohio’s 16 congressional districts, to regain recognition as a party by the state. Minor parties wouldn’t be allowed to hold primaries next spring under the proposal. Instead, parties that meet the initial signature requirements by next July would submit to the state a list of candidates to appear on the November ballot.
Editorials: Ohio Republicans should deep-six flawed measure on third-party access to ballot | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A misconceived Republican bill that would make it harder for third parties, such as the Libertarian Party or Green Party, to get on Ohio’s ballot has stalled at the Statehouse. That’s the good news. The bad news: A Senate-House conference committee could retool Senate Bill 193 to ease its passage later this year, when Ohioans are distracted preparing for holidays or bracing for winter. Federal courts ruled last decade that Ohio made it too hard for third parties to get on the ballot. Legislators never passed a replacement law, so court orders form today’s legal framework for third parties. Supposedly, Senate Bill 193 would fill a void. But if the status quo is a problem, someone needs to tell third parties.
A Green Township Republican’s proposal for regulating minority political parties’ attempts to get on the ballot passed the Ohio Senate on Tuesday, over the complaints of members of the Libertarian and Green parties. Ohio’s rules for letting minority parties on the ballot were struck down by a 2006 court ruling that said the state made it too hard for the parties to get on the ballot. Directives from the Ohio secretary of state have governed ballot access since then. State Sen. Bill Seitz says it’s time to have a new, constitutional law. He sponsored the bill that passed the Senate on Tuesday, 22-11, after being rushed through a Senate committee in just two weeks. The Senate Oversight Committee passed the bill just 20 minutes before the full Senate was scheduled to take up the bill.
They don’t agree on much, but a plan to create “top two” primaries has Arizona’s major and minor political parties on the same page – or at least close to it. Their responses range from outright opposition from Republican, Libertarian and Green leaders to noncommittal dislike from the Arizona Democratic Party. Proposition 121, dubbed the Open Elections/Open Government Act, would replace the current partisan primary system with a single primary that advances the top vote-getters regardless of party. The Open Government Committee, led by former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, contends the change would produce more moderate candidates and increase primary election turnout.