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If signed, bill in state of Delaware will double number of registrants required for minor party status

from Ballot Access News
Delaware Bill, Doubling Number of Registrants for Minor Parties, Passes Legislature

January 28th, 2010

On January 28, the Delaware Senate passed HB 245, so now it goes to the Governor. The bill takes effect as soon as the Governor signs it. The bill doubles the number of registrants for a party to be recognized from one-twentieth of 1%, to one-tenth of 1%.

There are court precedents that say it violates due process for a state to increase ballot access requirements in an election season and then implement that change in that very same election year. They are: (1) Campbell v Bennett, 212 F Supp 2d 1339 (Alabama 2002); (2) Arizona Green Party v Bennett, injunction granted January 15, 2010; (3) four precedents from Michigan in 1988, all unreported, called Fulani v Austin, McCarthy v Austin, Warren v Austin, and Holmes v Austin; (4) Nader 2000 Primary Committee v Hechler, 112 F Supp 2d 575 (West Virginia 2000); (5) Blomquist v Thomsen, 739 F 2d 525 (Wyoming 10th circuit 1984).

Also there are precedents set by state elections offices, such as the one in Kansas in 1990 by then-Secretary of State Bill Graves. The 1990 session of the Kansas legislature doubled the statewide independent requirement from 2,500 to 5,000 signatures, effective immediately, but the Secretary of State refused to implement it that year, because it was concerned about fairness to an independent candidate who was petitioning to get on the ballot for Governor that year.

The Voting Rights Section of the U.S. Justice Department refused to let Alabama implement its new petition requirement for minor parties, passed in 1981, until 1983, because it was also concerned about fairness to parties that wanted to participate in the 1982 election.

All these precedents have been mentioned to the Delaware Commissioner of Elections, Elaine Manlove. She has not yet responded. If she implements the change this year, it is unlikely that the Green Party, or the Working Families Party, or the Constitution Party, or the Socialist Workers Party, will be on the ballot this year. The old requirement is approximately 310 registrations and the new requirement is approximately 620. The problem is that Delaware voters can’t change their registration from one party to another party in the months before a primary, or before a general election either, so any registration drive by a party that needs more registrants will be difficult this year.

Delaware minor parties that have enough registrations to meet the new requirements are the Independent Party and the Libertarian Party.

______end story

In the comments section of the above Ballot Access News story, Richard Winger further reported a list with the number of registrants in each minor party in Delaware which currently have ballot access:

“Independent Party 1,308; Libertarian 756; Working Families 589; Green 587; Blue Enigma 330; Socialist Workers 310; Constitution 309. I think the Blue Enigma Party is non-active and not interested in elections any more.”


  1. Ralph Ralph January 31, 2010

    RE-POST: Sorry….that’s what I get for being 83 and posting pre-PM coffee!

    I think that the USLP really needs to better return focus on killing these problems for good. The old-style ballot access campaigns alone just feed the system. I hope that the newer parties in Delaware will co-operate on pressuring the legislators to make a permanent public policy change that small parties are good for Deleware. Thumbs up to the Independent Party for being alert and BAN for sharing the article.

  2. Ralph Ralph January 31, 2010

    The USLP really needs to return focus on killing these problems for good. The old-style ballot access campaigns that just feed the system. I hope the parties in Deleware will co-operate on pressuring the legislators to make a public policy change. Thumbs up to the Independent Party for being on the article.

  3. Richard Winger Richard Winger January 31, 2010

    Yes, Wolf, thank you for the new registration data.

  4. Wolf von Baumgart Wolf von Baumgart January 31, 2010

    I’m sorry that the original format of the above statistics did not translate as neatly as desired given the constraints of the comment input format.

    Wolf von Baumgart

  5. Wolf von Baumgart Wolf von Baumgart January 30, 2010

    With the stroke of a pen, the Governor can effectively eliminate up to 5 out of 7 of Delaware’s minor parties, given the voter registration statistics cited. The arbitrary restriction of voter choices in the 2010 election
    does nothing to advance representative democracy in this age of special interest domination of government.

    The Independent Party of Delaware notified the
    other minority parties with ballot status (having publicly available e-mails through the Office of the State Chairman (OSC) of its opposition to the increased voter registration requirements, last Saturday, but did not receive any response.

    The IPoD State Executive Committee was in the process of drafting proposed amendments to HB 245 when news of its passing reached the OSC.

    In the event that the Governor signs the bill, it appears that litigation is possible on the part of the affected minority parties.

    Wolf von Baumgart,
    State Chairman,
    Independent Party of Delaware

    Current December, 2009 minority party year-end voter registration statistics will be e-mailed upon request.

    IPod compiled

    Delaware Minor Parties

    Rate of Growth: [ Nov,2008 Election – Dec,2009 Year-end Total Registration ]

    Rank Party Registration Nov 2008 1 Dec 2009 2 Change Rate %

    (1) Independent Party of DE 1,308 1714 + 406 + 23.7 %
    (2) Libertarian 756 804 + 48 + 6.0 %
    (3) Working Families 589 505 – 84 – 14.3 %
    (4) Green 587 561 – 26 – 4.6 %


    (5) Blue Enigma * 330 308 – 12 – 3.9 %
    (6) Socialist Workers * 310 276 – 34 – 12.3 %
    (7) Constitution * 309 308 – 1 – 0.3 %

    [ All values rounded up to the nearest 0.1 % . ]

    *source: 1] Ballot Access News 1/18/10 ( from DEC )

    2] Delaware Election Commission

    * Parties below proposed HB 245 ballot access requirement of 10/100 of total
    Aug 24 registered Delaware voters will lose ballot status (if enacted).

    WvB 1/26/10 21:47 EDT rev.: 1/27/10 17:23 EDT

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