Posted in Memphis Flyer
October 31, 2013
By Jackson Baker
NASHVILLE — Federal Judge William J. Haynes, Jr., chief judge of the Middle Tennessee district, ruled Thursday that the Shelby County Election Commission must list Jim Tomasik as a Libertarian Party candidate on the special election ballots for state House District 91 — not, as had previously been the case in preliminary listings, as an independent.
The special election, which is scheduled for November 21, with early voting in effect from Friday, November 1, though Saturday, November 16, will pit Tomasik against Ramesh Akbari, who won the Democratic nomination for the seat in a special primary election on November 8. The election is to determine a successor to the late Lois DeBerry.
In view of the closeness of the general election date, lawyers for Tomasik had sought an emergency injunction from Judge Haynes, who, after hearing arguments at a hearing Thursday, issued it from the bench.
In making his ruling, Judge Haynes noted that in February 2012 he had already ruled unconstitutional provisions of Tennessee’s pre-existing ballot access law, which had allowed automatic ballot access only for Democratic and Republican candidates, requiring “minor” parties to meet standards for ballot access which he considered prohibitively difficult.
That ruling was in response to a joint suit by the Green Party and Constitutional Party, who were faced with a requirement to present roughly 40,000 signatures on petitions to gain state ballot access. That figure, representing 2.5 percent of the votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election, was coupled with early deadlines and with requirements that petitioners be members of the affected parties
The offices state Election Coordinator Mark Goins and Secretary of State Tre Hargett were the defendants in 2012 and in Libertarian Tomasik’s case as well. The state has appealed Haynes 2012 ruling
On October 31, U.S. District Court Judge William Haynes put the Tennessee Libertarian Party nominee for state legislature in Memphis on the ballot with the label “Libertarian”. If the injunction had not been issued, then the candidate, James Tomasik, would have been on the ballot as an independent instead. The case is Tomasik v Goins, 3:13cv-1118. The election is being held on November 21, to fill the vacant State House seat, 91st district. More details later.
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