Georgia Presidential Ballot Access Case Returns to District Court
(APN) ATLANTA — A lawsuit brought by the Green Party of Georgia and the Constitution Party of Georgia challenging the State of Georgia’s ballot access requirements is back in federal court, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.
The lawsuit challenges the statewide petition requirement that requires one percent of the signatures of the registered voters across the State, in order for an independent or political body candidate to appear on the ballot in Georgia, for President of the U.S.
As previously reported by APN, in January 2014, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the minor parties, known as political bodies under Georgia law, overturning the previous dismissal of their ballot access case.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the political bodies had, in fact, stated claims upon which relief could be granted.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp, through the Attorney General’s Office, had argued, and the federal district court had originally agreed, that the one percent statewide requirement was constitutional because federal courts have separately upheld Georgia’s five percent requirement for non-statewide races. However, the Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s interest in limiting ballot access was less strong in Presidential races.
[As an aside, the ruling upholding the five percent rule was based on the fact that candidate Faye Coffield had failed to present evidence on other candidates other than herself who had attempted, and failed, to gain ballot access.]
APN reviewed the Court of Appeals and District Court dockets to update our readers on the status of the litigation.
On January 27, 2014, Secretary Kemp sought a rehearing en banc by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
On March 28, 2014, the rehearing was denied.
On April 04, 2014, Secretary Kemp sought to stay the Court of Appeals ruling while Kemp could petition the Supreme Court of the U.S. for a writ of certiorari, asking the Supreme Court to take the case.
On April 25, 2014, the stay was denied.
On May 02, 2014, the Court of Appeals finalized its ruling through a mandate.
On May 06, 2014, the District Court adopted the ruling of the Court of Appeals. The Court noted that prior to dismissing the case, there had been a Motion for Summary Judgment pending.
Thus, the District Court ordered the parties to respond to, or brief, the Motion for Summary Judgment within two weeks. On May 19, 2014, the District Court extended the deadlines for the parties to June 10, 2014.
Because the facts of the case do not appear to be in dispute and at issue is a question of law, the case will likely not go to a jury.
U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division will likely issue a ruling in the coming weeks or months, taking into account the recent pronouncement of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The Georgia procedures are so difficult, Georgia and Indiana are the only states in which no petition to place either a minor party or independent presidential candidate has succeeded since 2000,” according to the June 01, 2014 print edition of Ballot Access News, sent to APN.
“Georgia has had fewer minor party and independent presidential candidates on the ballot, in the period 1968 to the present, than any other state except Oklahoma,” Ballot Access News states.
INDEPENDENT STATE HOUSE CANDIDATE CONFIDENT HE WILL GAIN BALLOT ACCESS
Meanwhile, Bill Bozarth tells Atlanta Progressive News he has collected around 1,900 signatures to run as an independent candidate for the State House seat held by former State Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Atlanta).
This is more the amount required, which is 1,776. However, predicting that some signatures may be thrown out for various reasons, Bozarth is working to collect more than the number required. His goal, which he expects to meet by mid-June, is 2,500.
The signatures are due in July.
Randy New, who is seeking to run against State Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas (D-Atlanta) as an independent, had gathered about one hundred signatures as of a few weeks ago.
New’s campaign manager could not immediately be reached by phone, although Thomas says she has seen some evidence of New’s volunteers collecting signatures in the district.