September 07, 2006

"U.S. court edits Ohio election law"

The Cleveland Plain Dealer offers this report on this ruling I linked to yesterday. On the election law listserv, Richard Winger writes of the decision's significance:

    This was the first time a minor party had won a ballot access case in any US Court of Appeals since 1997...The 6th circuit said the combination of the extremely early deadline (364 days before the general election) for a new party to submit its petition, plus the hefty number required (1% of the last vote cast, which was 32,290 in 2004 but is 56,280 this year), was, taken together, unconstitutional. Ohio has had far fewer minor parties on its ballots than any of the other populous states, in the last decade. No party other than the Democratic and Republican Parties has qualified in Ohio in 2002, 2004 or 2006.

Richard Shepard adds (link not yet available) that the opinion is significant "because it followed Justice O'Connor's lead from Clingman v Beaver, by analyzing the practical effect of two election statutes in combination, rather than separately, and by recognizing that legislatures can not be counted on to produce a content neutral election regulatory scheme, particularly when third parties are involved. It was also significant in that the 6th circuit, as the 10th circuit did in Clingman, required the state to demonstrate the harm to be prevented by the regulation." I think both Richards are exactly right in seeing this decision as significant, particularly if it stands against further appellate challenge.

Posted by Rick Hasen at September 7, 2006 08:43 AM