Libertarian Party: Try collecting ballot petition signatures during a coronavirus lockdown
The signature requirement at a time of limited public gathering unfairly handicaps would-be third-party candidates
The Libertarian Party is America’s third largest party for one reason only: it is the best at collecting signatures for ballot access.
Our size, just like the Greens, the Working Families or Independent Party, is governed by that ability alone. None of our ideas or positions matter due to the burden imposed by ballot access restrictions.
In Connecticut, for all the offices it does not have ballot access to, we Libertarians have 162,000+ more signatures to go, which must be collected over the three years each office we can collect for comes due for reelection.
The Libertarian Party of Connecticut had finally had enough when the Secretary of State arbitrarily removed Roger and Ellen Misbach from the ballot in the Meriden municipal election last year. It filed suit to restore them to the ballot (which the state agreed to) and challenge the entire unconstitutionally burdensome framework.
We drink from a different political water fountain than Democrats and Republicans in many respects – not the least of them is being unable to raise money through town committees without having ballot access (which is required for the SEEC to accept campaign finance reports).
We had a hearing scheduled for March 16 on our temporary injunction. At the last minute (the afternoon of Friday March 13), Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive orders canceled that hearing. My 2012 campaign manager, Michael Holman, had started his drive from Minnesota to attend that hearing. He was almost through Wisconsin when we had to turn him around.
Gov. Lamont’s orders also canceled the status conference the judge agreed to hold on the phone to help the parties resolve their differences. Our suit, which involves access for federal offices, could not be heard.
COVID-19 has been used by Gov. Lamont to justify many sweeping powers unknown and that have never been exercised on such a scope and scale vis-a-vis 9/11, two world wars, the Spanish Flu, the Cuban missile crisis and every other national emergency known to Connecticut.
Indeed, he has seen fit to abolish, by executive fiat, the right to speedy trial and the time requirement for service of civil process. He has impaired the obligations of contracts. He has substantially rewritten, by fiat, how Medicaid is administered. He has denied families subject to the Department of Children and Families timely reunification, disposition and due process.
All this followed no rebellion or invasion as the United States Constitution requires it to.
However, our signature requirements to challenge Gov.Lamont’s decisions at the ballot box are still on and still required. That includes those for elderly candidates like Harold Harris, who is running for State Senate in the 4th District. Thankfully, I have ballot access for Connecticut’s Second District – but our candidates in the First (Howard Grayson) and Fourth (Rod Hanscomb) do not. Our General Assembly and State Senate Candidates (save a few) also do not.
“Where to collect these?” we ask, when Gov. Lamont has limited gatherings to no more than five people.
It has already been an electoral fact that, even when you win (as Lowell Weicker did, with his A Connecticut Party and its 100+ candidates), the ballot access laws will dispatch your party from power due to their burdensome requirements (as it had).
Connecticut is the land of steady habits for one reason: power does what it wants for its own ends. That end includes a governor who would happily require his subjects expose themselves to the health crisis he proclaimed, spread fear among those afraid of infection (as a result of his actions) and demand this as the price for the right to petition for redress of grievances.
Lamont’s orders are the ultimate coup and solidification of two-party power by forbidding any challengers on a whole new level well beyond the previously unconstitutional level.
Gov. Lamont can either lift this requirement now, or he can open the state, now, if there is such a lack of an emergency which would warrant the burdensome collection of signatures.
If Lamont does neither, he is an illegitimate governor, and ought to step down immediately.
Dan Reale of Plainfield is the Chair of the Libertarian Party of Connecticut.
CTViewpoints welcomes rebuttal or opposing views to this and all its commentaries. Read our guidelines and submit your commentary here.