Thursday, July 04, 2019

8th Circuit Let's Decision on Independent Ballot Access Stand

This week the 8th Circuit Court issued a ruling on the Ballot Access Case we have been working on for over five years. The District Court ruled in our favor on re-hearing, but the state appealed even though the legislature caved and changed the law back. They will fight to the last taxpayer dollar to keep competition off the ballot, and then look you in the eye and tell you they believe in free market competition!

Of course, the judge's order was written so that Mark Moore, as an independent candidate, could file not only petitions but also filing paperwork as late as May 1 of last year - instead of forcing Mark Moore (your reporter) to file with the party candidate's much earlier. Heck they will be filing in November of the year before the election next cycle. Since party candidates have a primary but independents collect signatures for ballot access in lieu of a primary, there is no good reason to make them file with party candidates. So I wish they had considered that part of the ruling.

We asked that question at the appeal, but the judges ruled that since the state had changed the law, the state's appeal was moot and dismissed the whole thing. The only question addressed was whether or not our victory in district court would stand or be vacated, since the state did not get an appeal. The majority ruled that due to the state's history of making laws about independent ballot access that subsequently were thrown out, that the precedent should be left.

The rookie judge, Stras, said our victory should be vacated because the Secretary of State did not get the appeal due to "happenstance". I think the court needs to take a closer look at things in Arkansas. It is not "happenstance" because both the Legislative and Executive Branches are controlled by the same party. They did it to themselves. To say it is "happenstance" for the Executive Branch when the Legislative Branch changes the law back to make a case moot is to pretend that the system of checks and balances that the Founders set in place has not been short-circuited. It has been- by the dominance of political parties whose candidates dominate both branches.

Although I like the ruling I also want to point out that it didn't quite get things right in its summary of the legal proceedings. They wrote:
Moore failed to file those documents by the March 1 deadline, and the Secretary thereafter moved to vacate the injunction as moot, claiming that Moore was ineligible for the 2018 ballot because he had missed the statutory filing deadline. The court then extended the filing deadline for the notice, affidavit, and pledge at Moore’s request.

Well, what actually happened is that the state filed a notice of appeal of the decision on the 2nd day of the Candidate Filing Period. They did not have to disclose what the appeal was about until after the filing period was over. So I would have had to file for office with an unknown cloud hanging over my head. That had a chilling effect and I did not file during the party filing period. The state's actions helped precipitate my failure to file those documents. But it turned out their aggressive tactics backfire on them as you will see if you read on.....

When I complained to my main counsel, Jim Linger of Tulsa, about it, he noted that Judge Moody's ruling seemed to permit me to file everything, not just the petitions, as late as May 1st. So I decided to run for state senate and set about getting the necessary signatures. Unfortunately, my calculations of the number of signatures needed to get on the ballot did not consider voters who voted in the previous election but subsequent to my getting the voter data left the district. Thus I under-estimated the number needed.

I turned in what I thought was about 125% of the signatures needed to get on the ballot. I figured that this was just enough to get me on. It turned out, because the number needed to get on the ballot was higher than I thought, I only turned in 102% of the signatures needed. Many of those signatures were thrown out, as they always are. So I failed to make the ballot, and that's OK. Failing to get enough signatures is like failing to get enough votes in a primary. You should still have the right to try.

The state went into a mode of primate-defecation over our pointing out that the judge's order permitted me to file ALL my paperwork, not just my signatures, as late as May 1st. I think the circuit court spoke loosely when they claimed that Judge Moody extended my filing deadline for the other candidate filing paperwork. All he did was clarify his original order. And there is absolutely no good reason for an independent candidate to have to file when party candidates do. We don't have a primary election in the Spring. Why should we have to file at the same time as people who do?

Read more about it on Ballot Access News

Read more about it on Ballot Access News