News

October 6, 2016: USA Today has published Oliver Hall’s letter to the editor raising the question whether Hillary Clinton should drop out of the 2016 presidential election so she doesn’t “spoil” the race for Libertarian Gary Johnson.

July 17, 2015: The New York Times has published Oliver Hall’s letter to the editor responding to a piece by Todd Gitlin suggesting that electoral politics should be confined within the two major parties.

August 19, 2014: The Charleston Gazette has published Oliver Hall’s op-ed supporting the equal right of all qualified candidates to run for public office, and defending minor party and independent candidates against the “spoiler” charge.

January 20, 2014: The New York Times has published Oliver Hall’s letter to the editor on the state-by-state monopolization of the political process here.

December 15, 2012: The Washington Post has published Oliver Hall’s letter to the editor on improving America’s elections here.

March 16, 2012: SCOTUSblog selected CCD’s petition for certiorari in Libertarian Party of North Dakota v. Jaeger as its petition of the day. See the SCOTUSblog post here.

March 15, 2012: How far are we from “a Soviet-style system where the competition is pruned such that the election merely ratifies the controlling party’s choice,” CCD director Theresa Amato asks in an op-ed for CNN. Ballot access restrictions preventing Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum from appearing on Virginia’s Republican primary election ballot are just the latest evidence of an “archaic electoral process that artificially restricts our ballot choices,” Amato writes. Read the op-ed here.

March 13, 2012: Philadelphia Weekly has this investigative piece on Pennsylvania’s unconstitutional practice of requiring candidates to pay litigation costs following challenges to their nomination petitions. The piece quotes an open letter consumer advocate and former independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader wrote to Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille, which states, “The Jim Crow era ended in large part because the United States Supreme Court struck down such financial burdens in a series of landmark civil rights cases protecting candidate and voter rights. As the Supreme Court of the United States observed more than 40 years ago, in striking down Virginia’s poll tax, ‘It has long been established that a state may not impose a penalty upon those who exercise a right guaranteed by the Constitution.’” CCD legal counsel Oliver Hall is also quoted. Read the full piece here.

December 18, 2011: Washington Post runs Oliver Hall’s letter to the editor in response to Attorney General Eric Holder’s call for political parties not “to suppress certain votes in the hope of attaining electoral success,” and to focus instead on winning elections “by appealing to more voters.” See here.

November 14, 2011: The Kansas City Star publishes CCD Director Theresa Amato’s op-ed calling for a revamped Federal Election Commission to solve the agency’s “partisan paralysis.” The solution? Transform the FEC from a “bi-partisan” to a “non-partisan” agency by appointing independents and minor party members – not just Republicans and Democrats – to serve as Commissioners. Read the published op-ed here.

October 6, 2011: CCD files appeal in Federal Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on behalf of the Libertarian Party of North Dakota and three of its candidates for state legislature – Richard Ames, Thommy Passa and Anthony Stewart – who were denied placement on North Dakota’s November 2, 2010 general election ballot, despite being the undisputed winners of the party’s primary election in June. North Dakota is the only state in the nation that denies partisan primary election winners placement on the general election ballot unless they receive a certain minimum number of votes in the primary election. In September, the federal district court upheld North Dakota’s minimum vote requirement and denied the Libertarians’ request for an injunction placing them on the general election ballot, but failed to consider whether the requirement is unconstitutionally burdensome, measured as a percentage of the eligible pool of voters. In some districts, the requirement amounts to more than 15 percent of the eligible pool – a burden more than three times greater than the most restrictive ballot access requirement the Supreme Court has upheld, which was Georgia’s 5 percent requirement in Jenness v. Fortson.

Case Information and Legal Documents

June 20, 2011: CCD director Theresa Amato writes in the Washington Post that Rep. Michele Bachman’s performance in the first Republican debate of the 2012 primary season “offers tangible evidence of the importance of an open debate that lets voters hear from a wide field of candidates with a genuine variety of viewpoints, without self-appointed gatekeepers—be they media hosts or the Commission on Presidential Debates—who artificially narrow debate participation.” Read the story here.

May 12, 2011: The Associated Press covers a hearing before the before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, MN, in which CCD represented the Libertarian Party of North Dakota in their challenge to a North Dakota law that prevents the winners of primary elections from appearing on the general election ballot unless they receive a minimum number of votes equal to as much as 15 percent of the entire vote cast. View AP story here.

Case Information and Legal Documents

May 1, 2011: On May 11, 2011, CCD legal counsel Oliver Hall will argue before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the Libertarian Party of North Dakota, in the Libertarians’ case challenging the North Dakota law that prevents the winners of the Libertarian Party primary from appearing on the ballot unless they receive a minimum number of votes equal, in some cases, to as much as 15 percent of the entire vote cast. See case information and documents here:

Case Information and Legal Documents

April 4, 2011: CCD files appeal, in Libertarian Party v. District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics, from the District Court‘s March 8, 2011 opinion dismissing the Libertarian Party’s claims seeking declaratory and injunctive relief from D.C.’s failure to report valid write-in votes cast for 2008 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr. The District Court concluded that it is “a close question” whether the First Amendment protects the Libertarians’ right to have the results of their votes reported on an equal basis with all other valid votes, but denied them summary judgment and dismissed the case.

Case Information and Legal Documents

March 18, 2011: CCD joins Citizens in Charge, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Taxpayers Union in filing an amicus brief on behalf of Colorado residents John Caldara and Linda Gorman, who are fighting an effort to collect costs and attorneys’ fees by political opponents who challenged a petition that Caldara and Gorman sponsored to place an initiative on the ballot – an effort which, if successful, would chill the rights of all Coloradoans to participate in direct democracy through the citizens’ initiative process. The case, Johnson v. Caldera, No. 2010-cv-7624 is pending in the District Court for the City and County of Denver, Colorado.

Case Information and Legal Documents

March 15, 2010: Washington and Lee University Politics Professor Mark Rush reviews CCD Director Theresa Amato’s book, Grand Illusion – The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny, in the latest Election Law Journal. Calling Grand Illusion “powerful and eloquent,” Professor Rush concludes that “Amato’s call for systemwide electoral reform is unassailable.” Read the complete review here.

March 1, 2011: CCD will argue two federal cases on behalf of minor party candidates and voters in March. The first hearing, in Libertarian Party v. D.C. Bd. of Elections and Ethics, will take place at 10:30 A.M. on March 4, 2011 in the federal district court for the District of Columbia. The second, in Constitution Party, et al. v. Cortes, et al., is tentatively scheduled for March 18, 2011 before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. The Libertarian Party case challenges DCBOEE’s failure to tally and report valid votes for qualified write-in candidates who declare their candidacy as provided for by D.C. law, and is before the court on the Libertarians’ motion for summary judgment. The Constitution Party case challenges several provisions of Pennsylvana law, which combine to freeze minor party candidates out of the electoral process, and is before the court on the minor parties’ appeal from the district court’s dismissal.

Case Information and Legal Documents – Libertarian Party v. DCBOEE

Case Information and Legal Documents –Constitution Party, et al. v. Cortes, et al.

December 6, 2010: CCD, the Coalition for Free and Open Elections, and Free & Equal file amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court, in support of the petition for certiorari filed by Faye Coffield, an independent candidate for U.S. House who was denied access to Georgia’s 2008 general election ballot. No minor party or independent candidate for U.S. House has successfully petitioned to access Georgia’s ballot since the state increased its requirements in 1964 – a period of 46 years. The case is Coffield v. Kemp, No. 10-596. The district court and the Federal Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit summarily dismissed Coffield’s challenge to Georgia’s 5 ballot access requirements, on the ground that the Supreme Court upheld them inJenness v. Fortson, which was decided in 1971. In Jenness, however, the Court relied on the fact that minor party candidates had been able to access Georgia’s ballot in recent elections. The 11th Circuit discounted the fact that no minor party or independent candidate for U.S. House has done so since then on the ground that Coffield did not allege how many have tried. The purpose of CCD’s amicus brief is to provide the Court with facts confirming that many candidates have tried but failed to comply with Georgia’s petitioning requirements in the 46 years since Jenness was decided. This is significant because the Court has repeatedly concluded that courts reviewing the constitutionality of ballot access laws must consider whether or not candidates are able to comply with them.

Case Information and Legal Documents

October 19, 2010: CCD files appeal on behalf of Pennsylvania Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties in the Federal Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The parties appeal from a federal district court’s dismissal of their challenge to several provisions of Pennsylvania’s Election Code, including one that authorizes state courts to assess $80,000 or more in costs and fees against minor party candidates who attempt to run for public office, effectively freeezing minor parties out of Pennsylvania’s electoral process. The district court dismissed the case in March, but failed to rule on two out of the three counts in the minor parties’ complaint. The district court also found that the minor parties lacked standing to challenge the Election Code provision authorizing the assessment of $80,000 or more in costs and fees against minor party candidates who defend nomination petitions that they are required by law to submit. The court concluded that the minor parties’ injury is “conjectural” or “hypothetical,” rather than real and imminent. In August, one month after the district court declined to reconsider its decision, major party operatives challenged the nomination petitions of every minor party candidate for statewide office in Pennsylvania, forcing them to withdraw from the election due to the risk that costs would be assessed against them if they defended the petitions. As a result, voters in Pennsylvania will have no alternative to the major party candidates for statewide office in the November 2, 2010 general election.

Case Information and Legal Documents

October 18, 2010: Philadelphia Inquirer publishes CCD legal counsel Oliver Hall’s column demonstrating that voter choice was suppressed in Pennsylvania’s November 2, 2010 general election, as a result of the state’s unique practice of imposing unconstitutional costs and attorneys’ fees upon candidates who defend nomination petitions that they are required by law to submit.

October 4, 2010: CCD files appeal in Federal Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on behalf of the Libertarian Party of North Dakota and three of its candidates for state legislature – Richard Ames, Thommy Passa and Anthony Stewart – who were denied placement on North Dakota’s November 2, 2010 general election ballot, despite being the undisputed winners of the party’s primary election in June. North Dakota is the only state in the nation that denies partisan primary election winners placement on the general election ballot unless they receive a certain minimum number of votes in the primary election. In September, the federal district court upheld North Dakota’s minimum vote requirement and denied the Libertarians’ request for an injunction placing them on the general election ballot, but failed to consider whether the requirement is unconstitutionally burdensome, measured as a percentage of the eligible pool of voters. In some districts, the requirement amounts to more than 15 percent of the eligible pool – a burden more than three times greater than the most restrictive ballot access requirement the Supreme Court has upheld, which was Georgia’s 5 percent requirement in Jenness v. Fortson.

Case Information and Legal Documents

August 12, 2010: Pennsylvania Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties issue joint statement calling on Republicans and Democrats to withdraw nomination petition challenges filed against every non-major party candidate for statewide office in Pennsylvania, and calling on major party candidates to condemn such efforts to suppress voter choice in the November 2, 2010 general election. As a result of Pennsylvania’s uniquely punitive and discriminatory ballot access laws, minor party and independent candidates who defend their nomination petitions against such challenges risk incurring litigation costs and fees of $80,000 or more. On April 21, 2009, CCD filed a lawsuit in federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, on behalf of the Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties, which challenges Pennsylvania’s practice of charging costs and fees against candidates who defend their nomination petitions. The district court found that the plaintiffs lack standing and dismissed the lawsuit. The case is now pending before the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

July 29, 2010: CCD files motion for preliminary injunction requesting federal court in North Dakota to place Libertarian Party candidates on the November 2, 2010 general election ballot. Earlier this month, CCD filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Libertarian Party and its candidates, which challenges a North Dakota election law that bars winners of primary elections held by ballot-qualified political parties from appearing on the state’s general election ballot unless they receive a specified minimum number of votes. The plaintiffs have requested an expedited hearing, so that the court may grant the requested injunction before the September 8, 2010 statutory deadline, when North Dakota Secretary of State Alvin A. Jaeger must certify a list of candidates for inclusion on the November 2 general election ballot.

Case Information and Legal Documents

July 14, 2010: CCD files lawsuit in federal district court for North Dakota to challenge the constitutionality of a state law that bars winners of the North Dakota Libertarian Party’s primary election from appearing on the general election ballot, because they did not receive a specified minimum number of votes. The plaintiffs are the North Dakota Libertarian Party and three of its candidates for state legislature – Richard Ames, Thommy Passa and Anthony Stewart – each of whom was denied placement on North Dakota’s November 2, 2010 general election ballot, despite being the undisputed winner of the party’s primary election in June. Read the Bismarck Tribune coverage here. Read the Associated Press coverage here.

Case Information and Legal Documents

June 30, 2010: United States District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has written a letter to the Justice Department and the United States Attorneys’ Office requesting comment on the “important questions of constitutional law” raised by Libertarian Party, et al. v. District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics, which CCD filed on August 7, 2009. The lawsuit challenges the failure of D.C. elections officials to compute and certify valid votes for qualified write-in candidates. Read the court filings here.

February 2, 2010: The Kansas City Star publishes CCD Director Theresa Amato’s op-ed calling for a revamped Federal Election Commission to solve the agency’s “partisan paralysis.” The solution? Transform the FEC from a “bi-partisan” to a “non-partisan” agency by appointing independents and minor party members – not just Republicans and Democrats – to serve as Commissioners. Read the published op-ed here.

November 9, 2009: CCD joins lawsuit filed on behalf of write-in candidates and voters in Washington, D.C., to require elections officials to report vote totals for each qualified write-in candidate. Currently, D.C. only includes the total number of all write-in votes in its official vote tally, effectively disenfranchising write-in voters. The case is Libertarian Party, et al. v. District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics, Civ. No. 09-5836.

Case Information and Legal Documents

October 13, 2009: CCD Director Theresa Amato will join a panel discussion at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., about George Mason University Professor of Economics James Bennett’s book Not Invited to the Party: How the Demopublicans Have Rigged the System and Left Independents Out in the Cold. Amato’s book, Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny, was published by New Press in June 2009. Professor Bennett will also be joined by former Federal Election Commission member Hans A. von Spakovsky, in a panel moderated by John Samples of the Cato Institute. The event is at 12 PM with a luncheon to follow. Registration is required.

July 13, 2009: CCD submits comments in opposition to proposed candidate filing fees under consideration by the Council of the District of Columbia, as part of Bill 18-345, the “Omnibus Election Reform Act of 2009.” CCD opposes the proposed filing fees because they are not necessary to prevent overcrowding of ballots – only one presidential candidate gained ballot access in the District by submitting petitions in 2008 – and because the District already imposes a signature requirement on candidates that is more restrictive, measured as a percentage of the votes cast in 2008, than the signature requirements of all but three states. The legislation also appears to be unconstitutional as drafted, because it impermissibly requires candidates to shoulder the financial of holding elections. Update: The D.C. Council rejected the provision of Bill 18-345 providing for the proposed candidate filing fees at its July 13, 2009 hearing. CCD supports this amendment and urges the Council to consider adopting a more reasonable signature requirement, such as a flat 1,000 signatures for all federal candidates.

CCD Comments D.C. Bill 18-345

April 21, 2009: CCD files a lawsuit in the federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, to challenge several provisions of the Pennsylvania Election Code on behalf of the Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties of Pennsylvania. The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment holding unconstitutional Pennsylvania’s practice of taxing more than $80,000 in costs and fees against minor party candidates who seek ballot access. The lawsuit also seeks injunctive relief requiring Pennsylvania to count and report valid write-in votes.

Press Release

Case Information and Legal Documents

April 6, 2009: CCD submits comments to Maine Legislature’s Joint Committee on Legal and Veteran Affairs, urging adoption of safeguards to protect candidates’ rights in proposed legislation regulating circulation of minor party and independent candidates’ nomination petitions. The proposed legislation would require petition circulators to swear that they “personally witnessed” the signing of each signature on a petition – an unnecessarily strict standard that invites unfounded but irrefutable allegations of fraud in the petitions. Update: On June 4, 2009, Maine Governor John Baldacci signed Bill LD 1169 into law, incorporating a reform proposed by CCD Director John Branson, which clarifies that a single improperly “witnessed” signature on a nomination petition does not justify invalidation of the entire petition sheet. If this provision had been clear during the 2008 general election, independent senatorial candidate Herbert J. Hoffman would not have been removed from the ballot (see below).

CCD Comments Maine Bill LD 1169

Attorney and CCD Director John Branson Comments

August 14, 2008: CCD joins Emergency Application for a Stay of Enforcement, submitted to the United States Supreme Court on behalf of Herbert J. Hoffman, independent candidate for United States Senate in Maine’s 2008 general election. On July 28, 2008, the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine denied Hoffman listing on Maine’s ballot, even though all parties conceded that he had submitted a petition with enough valid signatures, because he could not prove that three particular signatures had been signed in his “presence,” according to the unspecified legal definition of that term.

Case Information and Legal Documents

July 30, 2007: CCD submits amicus brief to United States Supreme Court in support of Petition for Certiorari filed on behalf of Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties of Pennsylvania in Rogers v. Cortes. The Petitioners challenge the Third Circuit’s decision in Rogers, whichupheld Pennsylvania’s requirement that they submit nomination petitions with signatures equal in number to two percent of the vote cast for any winning candidate for statewide office in the previous election. CCD’s amicusbrief argues that the requirement severely burdens Petitioners by subjecting minor party candidates to grossly unconstitutional financial burdens of $80,000 or more, by forcing minor party voters to cast write-in votes that the state fails to count, and by terminating Petitioners’ status as qualified political parties in Pennsylvania.

Case Information and Legal Documents

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