New Ballot Access Law in California Keeps 4 Alternative Parties on the Ballot

From Ballot Access News:

On September 30, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2351, which makes it easier for a group to qualify as a party in California, and also makes it easier for an already-existing party to remain ballot-qualified. The old law required an already-existing party to either poll 2% for any statewide in a general election, or to have 103,004 registrants (1% of the November 2010 turnout). The old law required a new party to obtain either 103,004 registrants, or submit a petition signed by 1,030,040 valid signatures.

The new law requires an old party or a new party alike to have about 60,000 registrants. Also, an old party can remain ballot-qualified if one of its members polls 2% for any statewide race in a midterm year, in the primary. The new registration requirement is exactly .33% of the total state registration. Currently the state has 17,634,876 voters, so currently .33% is 58,195.

California is the only state that eased the definition of “party” during 2014. During 2013, the only state that did so was Maine, which changed from requiring a petition of 5% of the last gubernatorial vote, to having 5,000 registered members. Before that, the last time a state eased ballot access for new parties and independent candidates, relative to the amount of support required, was in 2009, when West Virginia lowered the petitions from 2% of the last vote cast, to 1%.

As a result of the new law, the two states that require support from the greatest number of supporters to get on the ballot are North Carolina (89,366 signatures) and Oklahoma (66,744).

Essentially this guarantees that the Libertarian Party, Green Party, Peace and Freedom Party, and American Independent Party will be on the ballot at least through 2018. Americans Elect did not poll enough votes in the primary and will lose qualified status.

From the Peace and Freedom Party website:

By Kevin Akin

When the voters were fooled into passing Proposition 14 in 2010, they were told it provided for an “open primary” that would give voters “more choice”. Many did not realize that more choices in June meant taking away all but two choices for each office in November. But less choice in November — when it counts — was not the only bad result of “top two”. Because no candidates of the smaller parties would appear on the statewide ballot in November, the new law made it essentially impossible for these parties to remain ballot qualified by getting enough votes in the gubernatorial election every four years.

On Tuesday September 30, Governor Brown signed AB 2351 by Assembly member Richard Gordon of Menlo Park. This bill changes the vote test to the June primary election in gubernatorial election years, with votes for all candidates preferring the party counting toward the required two percent of the vote. As Nathalie Hrizi of the Peace and Freedom Party received 5.4% of the vote (212,999 votes) for Insurance Commissioner in the June 2014 primary, the party will stay on the ballot at least through 2018, the year of the next gubernatorial election.

Another change in the law included in AB 2351 specified that a party can qualify through having 0.33% of all the voters in the state registered as preferring that party. The former standard was a number of voters equal to 1% of all those voters who cast ballots in the November gubernatorial election. The number of voters in an election for governor is very hard to predict accurately. Using a figure based on actual voter registration is easier for everyone involved, including the Secretary of State, whose endorsement of AB 2351 helped get it through the legislature. Right now, the Peace and Freedom Party is well above the 0.33% level, and with continuing voter registration work should remain qualified no matter what the vote in 2018 may be.

Here is Assembly Member Gordon’s description of AB 2351 (from his official website):

AB 2351 – Party Qualification

Proposition 14, passed by the voters in June of 2010, will eliminate one of the primary avenues used by the smaller political parties such as the Peace & Freedom, Libertarian, and Green to remain qualified and therefore maintain ballot status. In response, AB 2351 would make two specific changes to the party qualification statutes to remedy this situation and continue to provide smaller parties with a reasonable opportunity to retain their qualified party status.

Kevin Akin is Secretary of the California Peace and Freedom Party State Central Committee.

6 thoughts on “New Ballot Access Law in California Keeps 4 Alternative Parties on the Ballot

  1. Jill Pyeatt

    This has recently come to my attention and is a bit of good news in an otherwise bleak year.

    In other news, Congresswoman Judy Chu has Obama coming to town tomorrow to make my local mountains a “National Monument” by Executive Order despite tremendous outrage in the community. I’m SOOO depressed.

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