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SARVIS, seven OTHERS make the BALLOT as LIBERTARIANS; LAWSUIT filed for FAIR BALLOT ACCESS!

Just a bit of news from the Libertarian Party of Virginia:

The following persons at this point have ballot access according to the action filed in United States District Court in Richmond on Wednesday.  Here’s Bearing Drift’s take on it (written by Rick Sincere).

Robert Sarvis – US Senate

Bo Conrad Brown – 4th Congressional District

Paul F. Jones – 5th CD

William Hammer – 6th CD

James Carr – 7th CD

Jeffrey Carson – 8th CD

William Redpath – 10th CD (Redpath ran for Governor in 2001 and is the state chair of the LP)

Marc Harrold – 11th CD

This is an amazing turnaround in two years.

Now, here’s the complaint for the suit.  They key counts are that Va. Code Section 24.2-613 is unconstitutional in that it only allows the established political parties to contend for the two top spots on the ballot.

The reason is that there are two kinds of political parties in VA.  If your party wins ten percent in one of the past two statewide elections, they are a legally recognized political party (provided they have a central committee and one representative from each congressional district) But if not, but have the organization cited above, you are a political party but do not and cannot get better than third on ballot position.

I am virtually certain this will be overturned by the District Court.  There are studies that say ballot position actually can matter in a close election (talk about low-information voters!) and thus ballot order is critical.

The other count says that the requirement to get signatures to get ballot access unless your party is one of the presently two parties meeting the ten percent requirement [Va. Code Section 24.2-506(A)] is also unconstitutional.  Actually, the signature requirement has two problems:  One is the cost and trouble to get the signatures and the other is that your party does not technically get ballot access and the individuals who do only can get access for that election cycle unless the party’s statewide candidate gets 10% of the vote.

Now the state does have an interest in ensuring the ballot is not too complicated with too many aspirants on it and confuse voters.

I think this count could be problematic.  The court might be reluctant to overturn a statute (and no I have no idea what AG Herring will do! Will he defend the law?) unless there is a clear remedy.  The remedy could be:  the LP gets to select candidates in the CDs where they were not able to get on the ballot (I do not have word about any other LP candidates yet but I do understand two of their candidates did not get approved for the ballot) in a similar way that the Democratic Party was able to select (at a convention) their candidate to run against first Eric Cantor and then, after the Bratquake, David Brat, without the need for a thousand signatures.  That does not seem fair when it is ten percent required to be an established political party.  But fair is not a constitutional standard.  The standard is:  Does it violate Equal Protection of the laws?  Is the classification of parties so unequal as to be a constitutional violation?  If so, the judge would strike down the statute.  The court might just strike down the law, allow the LP to have a complete slate in this election cycle, see if Sarvis gets 10% (He could if Gillespie is down in polling numbers and cannot win in November) or see what the General Assembly does to amend the statute.  (I feel sorry for the solons this year – they have had a long year already and there are possibly judges to select and perhaps now the spectre of a new election access scheme.)

I think this is a close question.  Now I will say the Rutherford Institute is a solid public legal advocacy group and would not have taken the case (David P. Morgan is a local attorney affiliated in this case with Rutherford) if they did not see merit in it.  I’ll keep an eye on this.

I also had a brief discussion Wednesday with the national chair of the LP – a deputy public defender from Colorado named Nicholas Sarwark.  I was impressed with Sarwark (he sought me to join the LP – I respectfully declined!) although being a former appellate defender we are comrades in arms so to speak.  I will try to get a more detailed interview with Sarwark for the blog.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

3 Responses to “SARVIS, seven OTHERS make the BALLOT as LIBERTARIANS; LAWSUIT filed for FAIR BALLOT ACCESS!”

  1. RivahMitch says:

    Sarvis, who favored Obozocare last year, obviously supports Big Government. He is no libertarian. His presence taints the entire libertarian ticket.

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    Tom White Says:

    Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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