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.
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.”