Thursday, July 26, 2018

West Virginia Secretary of State Applies Prior Disaffiliation Law to Bar Constitution Party Nominee for U.S. Senate

Ballot Access News

On July 26, the West Virginia Secretary of State ruled that the Constitution Party nominee for U.S. Senate, Don Blankenship, cannot be on the November ballot even though he has enough valid signatures. The Secretary of State invoked the law, passed this year, that says a candidate cannot petition to be on the November ballot if he was a registered member of a qualified party at any time during that year. See this story.

Blankenship will sue, arguing that the prior disaffiliation law cannot be applied to him because it did not exist until June 2018. Courts generally hold that due process prevents a state from making ballot access more difficult, in the middle of the petitioning period. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed one of these decisions in 1977, Hudler v Austin, a Michigan case.

There are now two states in which Constitution Party nominees must go to court to be on the ballot, because the party’s nominees for some offices had run in major party primaries. In each case, the law cited by states to keep them off the ballot was not passed until after the Constitution Party had nominated its candidates. The other such state is North Carolina.

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