Monday, December 9, 2019

Texas judge blocks 3rd-party filing fees

Texas Libertarians celebrate as judge strikes down filing fees - - Taylor Goldstein:

December 6, 2019 - "One week before the filing deadline for Texas candidates, a judge in Harris County blocked the secretary of state from assessing a new fee for third-party candidates that was added by the Legislature this past session. Seven Libertarian voters and potential candidates sued over the law in state District Court in Harris County in October.

"Being freed of filing fees ranging from $750 for a candidate for state representative to $5,000 for a U.S. Senate election is a big advantage for a party that operates on a shoestring budget and whose candidates often run with little to no cash in their campaign coffers. 'It has had a massively positive impact in the last three days on candidate recruitment,' Neal Dikeman, a plaintiff in the lawsuit and a former Libertarian nominee for U.S. Senate in 2018, said Wednesday, adding that the party had previously expected recruitment to decrease by 50 to 90 percent....

"In a temporary injunction issued Monday, Judge Kristen Hawkins called the fees an 'actual or threatened violation of the Texas and United States Constitutions.' The injunction applies statewide.

“This temporary injunction was a crucial step to ensuring voters have choice at the ballot box, as half of all Texas races in 2018 would have been unopposed without Libertarian Party nominees,” said Harris County Libertarian Party Chair Katherine Youngblood, who represented the plaintiffs.

"While Democrats and Republicans are held to the same requirement ... [t]he money goes back to the parties through funding from the state for their primary elections. Third parties such as the Libertarians and the Greens, which nominate through conventions rather than primaries, do not receive such funding....

"A similar but broader lawsuit was filed by the Texas Libertarian Party, as well as the Texas Green Party and other third-party groups, in federal court in July. That lawsuit, which contests several parts of the law that they say limit third-party access to the ballot, is pending."

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