North Dakota Libertarians suing for spot on fall ballot

Associated Press:

Three Libertarian candidates for the North Dakota Legislature plan to sue to get on the November ballot.

Libertarian Party Chairman Richard Ames of Wahpeton says the lawsuit should be filed this week in federal court in Fargo.

Ames was a Libertarian candidate for the North Dakota Senate in last month’s primary election. Libertarians Thommy Passa (PAY’-suh) and Anthony Stewart of Grand Forks also filed to run for the North Dakota House.

Under state law the candidates needed a minimum number of votes to qualify for the general election, and none of them got the votes they needed.

The lawsuit says North Dakota’s minimum-vote requirement in primary elections is unconstitutional, and that it’s an unfair barrier to third-party candidates.

Ballot Access News notes that “North Dakota has not had any minor party legislative candidates on the general election ballot, with the party label, since 1976. The minor party that overcame the hurdle in 1976 was the American Party”.

As previously expained in Ballot Access News:

North Dakota has very small legislative districts. At this year’s primary, the only parties that had a primary were the Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian Parties. In the typical legislative district, only 2,100 voters cast a vote in any party’s primary. The vast majority of voters who voted on June 8, 2010, chose to vote in either the Democratic or Republican primaries. It appears that about 550 people chose to vote in the Libertarian Party primary. Any voter was free to vote in any party’s primary; North Dakota doesn’t have voter registration and the state has an open primary.

State law requires statewide nominees to receive at least 300 votes, and all of the Libertarian Party’s statewide candidates met that requirement. But state law requires legislative candidates to poll between 130 and 145 primary votes, and none of the three Libertarian candidates for the state legislature came anywhere close to doing that. The case is Libertarian Party of North Dakota v Jaeger. North Dakota is the only state that has a minimum number of votes in order for a party to nominate candidates in its own primary (except that many states do require a minimum number of votes for write-in candidates in primaries). Minnesota had a similar requirement, but the Minnesota Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 2004 in a case filed by the Independence Party.

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