Below is a press release from Garland Favorito at VoterGA.
ATLANTA, GA – The Green Party and Constitution Party of Georgia filed a federal lawsuit on Friday attempting to force Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, to list their Presidential candidates on the 2012 ballot. The lawsuit is similar to recent suits that were successful in Ohio and Tennessee. [Click for Lawsuit]
The parties’ Presidential candidates have been listed in more than 40 states during some previous elections but have never appeared on the ballot in Georgia. For Georgia elections the candidate names must be written in on the ballot. Questions have arisen in the past as to whether the state has counted these write-in votes correctly and completely as required.
The parties have historically been unable to gather enough validated petition signatures to be listed on the ballot according to Georgia law. In 1996, nearly 65,000 signatures were collected but ballot access was still denied after the office of the Secretary of State invalidated many of those signatures. In that case, the state contended that a petitioner and a notary must always be different individuals although the petitioning procedures mentioned no such requirement.
Petitioners face increasing identity theft concerns and other problems while trying to collect signatures for a candidate to appear on a ballot. A Green Party petitioner was once arrested in a park while peacefully soliciting signatures. Another petitioner, who is a Constitution Party member, was investigated for forgery last year by the Attorney General’s office even though the Secretary of State’s Inspector General could produce no evidence that he had forged any signature.
Georgia has the most restrictive ballot access laws in the country for certain races according to Ballot Access News. In 2011, Rep. “Rusty” Kidd introduced H.B. 494 to eliminate petitioning and this year the Election Advisory Council (EAC) for the Secretary of State voted to reduce the requirements. However, Government Affairs Committee Chairman, Mark Hamilton, under direction of Speaker David Ralston, blocked a hearing for H.B. 494 and removed the EAC recommendations from legislation that was eventually passed.