Thursday, July 13, 2017

Arizona Libertarians lose ballot law challenge

Law requiring more signatures for Libertarian candidates remains | State-and-regional | - Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services:

July 10, 2017 - "A federal judge has rebuffed a bid by the Libertarian Party to kill an Arizona law even its sponsors concede was designed to make it harder for minor party candidates to get on the general election ballot.

"Judge David Campbell acknowledged Monday the 2015 law sharply increases the number of signatures that Libertarian candidates need to qualify for ballot status. In some cases, the difference is more than 20 times the old requirement.

"The result was that only one Libertarian candidate qualified for the ballot in 2016, and none made it to the general election. By contrast, there were 25 in 2004, 19 in 2008 and 18 in 2012.

"But Campbell said the new hurdle is not 'unconstitutionally burdensome.' And the judge accepted the arguments that the higher signature requirements ensure that candidates who reach the November ballot have some “threshold of support'....

"In pushing for the change, GOP lawmakers made no secret they do not want Libertarian Party candidates in the race, contending that a vote for a Libertarian is a vote that would otherwise go to a Republican....

"Prior to 2015, would-be candidates qualified for the ballot by getting the signatures of one-half of one percent of all party members within a given area.... The new formula changed that to one-quarter of a percent — but for all people who could sign a candidate's petition. That adds political independents, who outnumber Democrats and are running neck-in-neck with Republicans, to the equation....

"Using that pre-2016 formula, a Libertarian could run for statewide office with petitions bearing just 134 names, one-half percent of all those registered with the party. But the new formula, which takes into account all the independents, required a Libertarian trying to get on a statewide ballot to get 3,023 signatures.

"To put that in perspective, that is close to 12 percent of all registered Libertarians. By contrast, the statewide burden for a GOP candidate, based on the number of registered Republicans, remains close to that one-half of one percent of all adherents."

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