Florida Won’t Enforce 2011 Harsh Presidential Ballot Access Law in 2012

Ballot Access News:

On September 2, the Florida Secretary of State ruled that the new requirement that parties not recognized by the Federal Election Commission must submit 112,174 valid signatures in 2012, to be on the ballot for President, will not be enforced in 2012. The old law will be in effect. The old law requires ballot-qualified parties who wish to be on for President merely to hold a national convention, be on the ballot for President in at least one other state besides Florida, and submit a list of 29 presidential elector candidates. All the Florida candidates for presidential elector must be registered members of that party.

The new law, signed by the Governor on May 19, 2011, will thus have no harmful effect on any party that was already ballot-qualified in Florida before that date. The legal reasoning for not enforcing the new presidential ballot access law is that the bill, HB 1355, says that certain parts of the bill are retroactive. The specifically retroactive parts of the bill make it somewhat more difficult for parties to become ballot-qualified, although this part of the bill is not harsh; it mainly says that when a new party becomes ballot-qualified by filing a list of officers, there must be at least three officers and they must all be registered party members. The bill also says that all the parties that were ballot-qualified before May 19, 2011, must submit a new list of officers by November 19, 2011, something that is not burdensome for any bona fide party.

The basis for the Secretary of State’s new ruling is this: because the part of the bill relating to how a party becomes ballot-qualified is specifically designated as retroactive, logically it follows that the other parts of the bill relating to minor parties are not retroactive.

Underlying all this is the separate point that the new presidential petition (which, now, can only harm parties in 2012 that haven’t yet come into existence) probably violates the Florida Constitution, because the Florida Constitution says ballot access for minor parties and independent candidates can’t be more difficult than the requirements to place Democratic Party nominees on the ballot. But that issue will now be set aside until 2016, unless of course some new party is created in the near future that wants to be on for President in 2012.

Last week’s ruling is especially good news for Americans Elect, the Prohibition Party, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and the Socialist Workers Party, four parties that have been ballot-qualified in Florida all along, and which intend to have presidential nominees in 2012, and which are not recognized by the FEC. Thanks to Dan Winslow for the news. UPDATE: here is the Secretary of State’s ruling.

Darryl Perry points out that it also applies to the Boston Tea Party.

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