New round of litigation over 3rd party ballot access in TN

Tennessee places “an unconstitutional burden” on minor political parties seeking places on the ballot, the Green and Constitution Parties of Tennessee claim in Federal Court, reports Courthouse News.

Tennessee’s Libertarian Party filed a similar lawsuit last week, claiming that Tennessee’s deadlines for petition signature collection for special general elections are unconstitutional.

In the law complaint, the Green and Constitution Parties claim the state’s requirements for petition signatures and number of votes for minor parties are unconstitutional. They also claim that the requirement to file an affidavit promising not to support the overthrow of the government is unconstitutional.

The parties sued Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Elections Coordinator Mark Goins.
Tennessee Code Annotated 2-1-104 requires minor parties to obtain the signatures of 2.5 percent of the total number of votes cast for gubernatorial candidates in the most recent election of governor, to be recognized and appear on the ballot.

But a federal judge ruled in Green Party of Tenn. et al. vs. Hargett et al. that Section 2-1-104 was “unconstitutional and granted plaintiffs status as ‘recognized minor parties’ for the purposes of the 2012 general election,” according to the complaint.

Now the parties ask that the court affirm its “prior determination” that 2-1-104 is unconstitutional.

(HT: Post Politics)

UPDATE Note: The Libertarian Party’s press release on its lawsuit if below.

News release from Libertarian Party of Tennessee:
KINGSPORT, TN, TUESDAY OCTOBER 15th, 2013 – The Libertarian Party of Tennessee filed suit in Federal Court against Mark Goins, Coordinator of Elections and Secretary of State Tre Hargett. The alternate party’s attorneys have set forth a Motion of Preliminary Injunction to the Court. The intent of this suit is to have the Libertarian Party of Tennessee Chairman, Jim Tomasik, accurately recognized as a Libertarian Candidate on the general election ballot for the November 21st Special Election to replace the late Representative Lois Deberry.

This legal injunction, cited that the current law requiring 40,000 plus signatures to have any alternate party label on a ballot as unconstitutional.

The current requirement, which Federal Judge Haynes struck down as unconstitutional and the Legislator has yet to correct, would have required the LPTN to collect over 40,000 signatures of registered voters in less than 10 days. This task is impossible to complete considering there are only approximately 33,000 registered voters in District 91.

Mr. Tomasik petitioned to be on the ballot as a Libertarian candidate. He never gave his consent to be labeled as an independent. His intention was to represent the Libertarian Party of which he asked to receive the alternative party’s official endorsement. On August 31st, he received a unanimous endorsement at a Special Convention held for this specific purpose in Knoxville, TN.

“I do not feel this is fair to myself as a candidate or to the voters in House District 91 who will be mislead on the ballot that I am an independent candidate rather than the Libertarian Candidate”, stated Tomasik when asked about the lawsuit.

A recent Gallup poll found that 60% of Americans think Democrats and Republicans aren’t doing “an adequate job of representing the American people” and do “such a poor job that a third major party is needed.”

This is not the first time the Libertarian Party of Tennessee has been forced to sue over ballot recognition. Tony Wall, former LPTN Chair and plaintiff in Libertarian Party of Tennessee v. Thompson, 2008 stated in his deposition, “The right of American citizens to select their representatives is one of the cornerstones of our Nation’s founding. Restricting the choice of the voters by denying them the right to be informed of all political entities involved is, and should be deemed a violation of our Constitution.”

The Libertarian Party of Tennessee won that law suit.

About the Libertarian Party of Tennessee
The Libertarian Party of Tennessee is the largest and fastest growing political party in Tennessee. It has already attracted thousands of liberty-minded citizens concerned with curbing out-of-control, bureaucratic and oppressive governments – federal, state and local.