After successfully seating candidates on every major board in the last two municipal elections, The Bottom Line party now finds itself fighting just to get on the ballot. The party, which formed about six years ago, had its nominees removed from the ballot by order of the secretary of state, despite Town Clerk Patricia Spruance going to bat for them. At issue is a 2011 regulation requiring third-party candidates to sign the nomination form. “It seems like an unjust situation,” Spruance said. “It really is a case of disenfranchisement of eight candidates and individual voters.” The enforcement of the 2011 regulation has affected more towns than Windham. Several other municipalities have taken their town clerks to court.
Mark Doyle, chairman of The Bottom Line, said the party had no choice but to file a lawsuit. It will be heard Monday at 9:30 a.m. in the Valley Street courthouse. “We are extremely frustrated over this situation, especially the secretary of state’s office’s action, or lack thereof,” Doyle said. “This rule was in force since 2011, we now find out, but never enforced, nor any attempt to make existing independent parties aware of it, nor the many town clerks, it seems, either.”
Town Clerks got the information about the 2011 rule change in a nine-page email, and this particular rule — requiring third-party candidates to sign the endorsement paperwork — was on page 4, Spruance said. Democratic and Republican candidates do not have to sign the documentation.