“U.S. District Court Strikes Down Tennessee Law Giving Two Major Parties Best Spot on Ballot; and Also Strikes Down Petition Requirement Again”

Ballot Access News:

On June 18, U.S. District Court Judge William J. Haynes ruled that Tennessee’s law, giving the two largest parties the best spots on the general election ballot, is unconstitutional. He also again struck down the law that requires newly-qualifying parties to submit 40,042 valid signatures (2.5% of the last gubernatorial vote).

Judge Haynes had struck down the number of signatures in the same case, but the Sixth Circuit had remanded the case back to him, and requested that he review the number of signatures again. The Sixth Circuit mentioned that in 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld Georgia’s petition requirement of 5% of the number of registered voters. In response, Judge Haynes reaffirmed his original decision, pointing out that Tennessee is obviously not concerned about crowded ballots, because it allows presidential primary candidates to get on the ballot with only 2,500 signatures; and it lets all candidates for other office get on primary ballots with only 25 signatures. Also he mentioned that Tennessee lets independent candidates get on the ballot for President with 275 signatures and independent candidates for all other office only need 25 signatures.

The part of the decision on ballot order of candidates is surely the most thorough court opinion on that subject ever written. The opinion contains an exhaustive report on research on whether ballot access order affects voting behavior.

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