The Alabama Senate Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics & Elections Committee will hear SB 17 on March 8, Tuesday. This is the bill by Senator Cam Ward to lower the number of signatures for independent candidates (for office other than President) from 3% of the last gubernatorial vote, to 1.5%. Senator Ward is working on amending the bill so it makes the same change for minor party candidates, at least for statewide offices and U.S. House.
Currently, Alabama is the only state in which the easier petition method (either independent, or new party) for getting onto the November ballot, for non-presidential statewide office, is harder than 2% of the last vote cast. The existing 3% requirement was passed in 1995. Before then, it had been 1% of the last gubernatorial vote. The legislature tripled the requirement because it was angry that a Patriot Party candidate for partisan county office had been elected, even though he was a “sore loser.” Of course, if the legislature had been angry about a sore loser, the more rational response would have been to outlaw sore losers, instead of punishing all independent and minor party candidates. The Patriot Party candidate who was elected in 1994, even though he had lost the Democratic primary, was William Roberson, elected to the Greene County Commission.