Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) has introduced SB 359, which improves ballot access for parties that have already attained qualified status for statewide office, and also partially legalizes fusion.
The biggest change made by the bill is that it expands ballot access to all partisan office, for parties that are in the present situation of the Libertarian Party. The Libertarian Party is ballot-qualified for the statewide offices as long as it continues to poll 1% for any statewide nominee (technically, the 1% is 1% of the number of registered voters, not 1% of the vote cast in that race, so the vote test more accurately is a 1.5% vote test). The Libertarian Party got statewide status in 1988, when it completed a petition of 1% of the number of registered voters.
The bill says that such statewide parties would now be ballot-qualified for all offices, not just the statewide offices. If the bill passed, the Libertarian Party could run candidates for all partisan offices with no petition. Of course this change would help other minor parties in the future, if they could just complete the 1% statewide petition. Other parties that have managed to complete the 1% petition, in the past, have been the New Alliance Party and the Reform Party. However, the 1% statewide petition is tough, and the Green Party, the Natural Law Party, and the Constitution Party, have never managed to comply with it. The 1% petition procedure was passed by the legislature in 1986.
The bill also says that fusion would be permitted between a major qualified party (one that had polled over 20% of the vote for Governor or President) and a qualified minor party (one that had polled over 1%, but under 20%). Oddly enough, though, the bill would not legalize fusion between two qualified minor parties, nor would it legalize fusion between two major parties, nor would it permit fusion involving an independent candidate. Thanks to Bryan Sells, and also Bill Van Allen, for this news.
Senator Shafer has been a State Senator since 2002. In the 1990’s, he was Executive Director of the Republican Party. He is an influential Senator, and Republicans have a majority in both houses of the legislature and hold the Governorship.