The following press release was issued jointly by the Peace and Freedom Party and the California Green Party on January 26, 2011.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Contact: Cres Vellucci 916/996-9170
Candidates Rejected for 4th Assembly Special Election Race Charge Rules Unfairly Prevented Them From Running, Limiting Voter Choice; Lawsuit Considered
SACRAMENTO – At least two potential candidates prevented from running in the 4th District Assembly seat special election are charging it’s because there was an extremely short time period – only two days after Gov. Brown declared the special election – and a large number of signatures to qualify other than paying a hefty filing fee.
They are exploring the possibility of a lawsuit challenging the rules on Constitutional grounds.
Election law expert Richard Winger of Ballot Access News confirmed that nine federal courts have ruled, during the last 30 years, that states cannot force candidates to complete ballot access petitions in tiny amounts of time. Further, smaller parties previously have had to only collect a maximum of 150 signatures, not 1,500 under new rules.
“California elections officials have been careless and inconsiderate of the rights of candidates and voters by assuming they can force candidates in special elections to complete hefty petitions for themselves in less than a week,” said Winger.
“Democratic and Republican candidates can buy their way on the ballot, but I am a young working man that can only get on by showing support. In the last election I had 55 days to collect 64 signatures from Peace and Freedom Party members, but now I had seven days, at most, to collect 1,500 signatures of registered voters. I collected 200 signatures but was refused my Declaration of Candidacy,” said Daniel Frederick, Peace and Freedom Party nominee for State Assembly from District 4 in 2010.
Gary Blenner, a registered Green Party member, former Center Unified School District board trustee and teacher at Rio Americano High School, said the time limits made it impossible for him to run for the seat as planned.
“It was barely 48 hours from the time Gov. Brown called the Special Election until the time signatures were due. When I inquired about filing my candidacy the next day, I was told the only way to file was by paying an outrageously high filing fee,” said Blenner. “There was no way anyone without a huge campaign war chest can participate in our so-called democracy under these conditions. It severely limits the choices for voters.”
“The State has denied the voters several choices by limiting the time candidates have to get an unreasonable amount of signatures. Signatures in lieu of filing fees are supposed to be an avenue for candidates to get on the ballot. Even when allowed the full 55 days, 1,500 signatures is just too many and is unconstitutional,” said C. T. Weber, Peace and Freedom Party of California, State Chairperson.