January 24, 2019
Montgomery, AL - Citing AL Election Code, the Libertarian Party of Alabama (LPA) has filed suit in the U.S. District Court, Alabama Middle District, alleging the State of Alabama discriminates against “minor parties” and independent candidates, by charging them for the state-wide voter registration list or a portion thereof.
Alabama law provides that major political parties – Republican and Democrat - be given the state-wide voter registration list free of charge, while charging minor parties and independent candidates one cent per name.
One cent per name, you say? That doesn’t sound unfair.
One cent per name multiplied by the number of registered voters in Alabama equates to approximately $36,000. Add the 2.5% additional charge if paid for by credit or debit card for an additional $900.
Unlike the Republican and Democratic Parties, most minor parties do not charge a fee for candidates wishing to run under their label; whereas the duopoly expects candidates to “qualify” for their primaries by contributing up to $6,000, dependent on the office. Most minor parties require candidates to make application, be nominated, and then selected by delegates to the minor party’s state convention, thereby eliminating the tax burden created by a primary and any subsequent run-off elections.
Since minor party candidates and independents must collect signatures by petition equal to 3% (currently 51,588 valid signatures for state-wide office) of the most recent vote for Governor, access to the voter registration list is crucial in order to confirm the validity of the signatures on the petitions.
If a candidate is able to achieve 20% of the votes cast in a state-wide race, the minor party is then declared to have ballot access and does not have to gather signatures for the next election cycle. However, if the candidate/party does not break the 20% threshold in the next election, the minor party loses its ballot access and then must start gathering petition signatures again.
Denied the ability to check petition signatures against the voter registration list because of the exorbitant cost associated with obtaining the list, minor parties and independents are placed at a distinct disadvantage. To quote the complaint, “…there is anything but a ‘uniform charge;’ for the major political parties get it for free, while minor political parties have to pay an exorbitant fee for it. In effect, those who can least afford it, have to pay the most.”
The complaint goes further in stating that AL law unconstitutionally discriminates between major and minor political parties in an effort to create obstacles that make it more difficult for minor parties, like the LPA, to grow, garner support, and obtain votes so that its members and followers hold public elective office. It also calls out violations of individuals’ rights protected under the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Recent court cases in Georgia and Michigan have seen ballot access barriers ruled unconstitutional, as the barriers irreparably injure the parties.
The Libertarian Party of Alabama (LPA), a recognized affiliate of the national Libertarian Party, has been working to keep government from trampling the rights of individuals in our state since the early 1970s. For more information about the LPA, go to www.lpalabama.org.
The Libertarian Party (LP) has active affiliates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Over 800 LP candidates were on the ballot nation-wide for the 2018 election cycle. For more information about the LP, go to www.lp.org.