Arkansas Secretary of State blocks would-be presidential candidate Cenk Uygur from the ballot

I chronicled earlier how Nevada blocked would-be Democratic presidential Cenk Uygur from the ballot. Uygur was born in Turkey. He tried to alter the paperwork in Nevada that required him to assert, under penalty of perjury, that he was a natural-born citizen. Nevada rejected the altered paperwork.

The same happened in New Hampshire a few days ago. The Ballot Law Commission noted, “The Secretary of State rejected the filing since the form had been altered and the candidate did not have the statutorily required qualifications. The issue for the Ballot Law Commission is to consider whether the action of the Secretary of State was reasonable and legal. The Commission finds that it was.” Again, state law required certain paperwork, and ineligible candidates cannot alter the paperwork to avoid the risk of perjury and still appear on the ballot.

Over to Arkansas. From the Associated Press:

My office has received your candidate filing paperwork,” Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston said in a letter to Uygur. “However, based on your own proclamation, your are not qualified to hold the elected office for which you filed. Therefore, I cannot, in good faith, certify your name to the ballot.”

The letter cites no Arkansas law on this point. And for good reason. There’s no law barring ineligible candidates from appearing on the ballot. In 2008, for instance, 22-year-old Eugene Puryear appeared on the Arkansas ballot line for the Socialist and Liberation Party as its vice presidential candidate. In 2012, the party’s presidential nominee was the 27-year-old Peta Lindsay, who appeared on the ballot in Arkansas–even as she was kept off the ballot in California. Arkansas law requires most candidates to affirm their eligibility–but not presidential candidates (although state interpretation of law appears to add this requirement in its guidebook). State law defers to the party for how it wants to conduct its presidential primary election.

Now, maybe I have this all wrong, and there’s actually some statute, somewhere, that can be best interpreted as empowering the Secretary of State to act beyond just “in good faith” to exclude ineligible candidates from the ballot. But this is a state I’m watching in the event litigation arises.

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