Rep. Valencia Stovall Changes Party Status to “Independent”
“Its official [sic]. I have changed my party from Democrat to Independent for the remainder of my term. I sent an official email few minutes ago [sic],” State Rep. Stovall wrote on her Facebook page.
“The 2 party system has to be shaken up. Watching all the disruptions & distractions away from the needs of the ppl during Nov 3rd election & afterwards have confirmed my decision,” Stovall wrote.
“That so called debate was not about the ppl but about which party was going to mislead more voters. Both avoided answering questions. Not going to be loyal to a party not loyal to me,” she wrote.
Her party status has been updated on her official page on the Legislature’s website:
In recent months, Rep. Stovall ran in the so-called “Jungle Primary” for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Kelly Loughler (R-GA). She ran as an independent.
Stovall did not advance into the Run-off Election that is currently underway between U.S. Sen. Loughler and Rev. Raphael Warnock.
Because of the unique circumstances of that Special Election, U.S. Senate candidates were able to run as independent or “third party” candidates without having to collect signatures. That is because Georgia’s ballot access rules, which would otherwise have required such candidates to collect a great many signatures, were not in effect.
The Special Election was originally caused by the retirement of now-former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and the temporary replacement of Isakson with U.S. Sen. Loughler by Gov. Brian Kemp.
Stovall had to decide whether to qualify to run again for her State House seat or whether to run for U.S. Senate, and she chose to run for U.S. Senate under an independent banner.
She will only serve as an independent in the State House therefore for approximately one month before her term ends.
The last independent member of the Georgia General Assembly was now-former State Rep. E Culver “Rusty” Kidd (I-Milledgeville), who retired in 2016 and passed away earlier this year in 2020. Rep. Kidd served from 2009 to 2017.
Rep. Stovall did not immediately return a voicemail seeking comment.
GEORGIA’S BALLOT ACCESS LAWS
As previously reported by APN, there have been a great many legal challenges to Georgia’s ballot access laws, although the Republican- and Democratic-monopolized Legislature has refused to change Georgia’s petition requirements.
Polling data shows that more U.S. residents consider themselves independent than there are who consider themselves members of one of the two major parties.
But the Georgia Legislature may finally have to revisit the issue as a promising lawsuit makes its way through the federal courts.
On June 03, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a favorable ruling to the Libertarian Party of Georgia in its challenge to Georgia’s onerous ballot access requirements.
Under Georgia’s election code, the Libertarian Party has been able to run statewide candidates without collecting petition signatures because they have had at least one candidate in every statewide election to receive at least one percent of the votes – thus, they perpetuate themselves onto the next ballot every two years.
However, like independents and other third parties, the Libertarian Party must gather signatures of five percent of the eligible voters for non-statewide partisan races such as U.S. Congress, U.S. House, County Commission, and others.
In Martin Cowen, et al. v. Georgia Secretary of State, the Libertarian Party argues that Georgia’s requirements violate their associational rights under the First Amendment and their Equal Protection Rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.
On September 23, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May had dismissed Cowen, finding that previous rulings that had upheld Georgia’s ballot access laws were binding.
However, the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the decision and remanded the case to the U.S. District Court with instructions for the court to consider all the relevant facts and conduct an appropriate “balancing test.”
This means that U.S. District Court Judge May now has to balance Georgia’s stated interests in having petition requirements, with the burden that those requirements place on the constitutional rights of Georgians.
The case is currently pending in federal district court.
APN previously covered the original filing of the case in 2018, and has been covering the fight for ballot access in Georgia for nearly fifteen years.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2020)