The LNC Executive Committee met today to decide whether or not to initiate legal action in the situation in Maine reported on previously on IPR here.
In summary, Maine’s ballot access requirement (enacted in 2013) is that a new political party can qualify by having at least 5,000 registered members by December 1 of the odd year before the election. The Libertarian Party of Maine submitted paperwork for more registrations than the required number. According to the Maine statute, the Secretary of State has only five days to verify these registrations. The registrations are not submitted by the prospective new party to the Secretary of State directly but rather to local elections officials. Some jurisdictions did not process these registrations for delivery to the Secretary of State within the prescribed 5-day window, and thus the Secretary State only credited the Libertarian Party of Maine with approximately 4600 registrations.
Mr. Hall spoke to the potential legal grounds for pursuing a lawsuit against the Secretary of State. It appears that the December 1 deadline is unconstitutionally early in additional to the harm done to the Party under due process and equal protection.
An inquiry was made if there were any type of administrative appeal procedures that might obviate the need for a suit. Mr. Hall advised that this does not look promising as the State seems to have complied with the letter of the statute and there is a potential for irreversible harm in that these registrations might simply be un-enrolled from the Party in the interim; thus, injunctive relief is needed.
The Libertarian Party of Maine accomplished this registration drive with no assistance from the LNC. However, they do not have the funds for a legal action. Presently it does not appear that there are any similarly situated parties that might join any suit. The Green Party, for instance, has ballot access. Chair Sarwark noted that there are several issues here as well with registrations in general as there may be defective registrations which are curable; however, the short deadline made that impossible.
It was moved for the LNC to expend $4,000 for a legal retainer to draft a Complaint and flesh out the potential issues. It was passed without objection.