A Nation of Laws, not Gotya’s

One court so far has ruled in favor of ballot access for one minor party in one town, using common sense to override a detail in the law: Ruling Gives Boost To Minor-Party Candidates <read>

Third-party political candidates throughout the state are cheering a decision by a Superior Court judge to keep a minor party in Westport on the November ballot, saying the ruling sets a precedent for other towns where candidates have been knocked off ballots because of filing technicalities.

The order by Stamford Superior Judge Kenneth Povodator to reinstate “Save Westport Now” will likely mean third-party candidates in at least a dozen cities and towns – including Middletown and East Hampton – will remain on November ballots…

[Two other minor party chairs] said they filed their endorsement paperwork as they had in previous years. But this time they were informed by town clerks that their endorsement certificates lacked signatures. That’s because of a 2011 amendment to state election laws requiring third-party

candidates to personally sign their endorsement documents – a requirement not asked of Democrats and Republicans.

Third-party candidates were also informed by town clerks that it was too late to remedy the problem, leaving them no choice but to run as write-ins.

The touted intention of the law was to make sure that third-party endorsed candidates actually accepted endorsements – a reasonable idea for cross-endorsements, not necessarily reasonable otherwise. Reasonable or not, it looks biased against third-parties, in favor of major parties. Fairer would have been a similar requirement for all candidates for all parties. Normally, all laws should be followed and enforced. Selective enforcement should be especially avoided.

The law went into effect in 2011 but was not enforced until this year. Apparently many town clerks did not realize the change, worse neither did third parties. Sometimes the law is ambiguous and we turn to courts to resolve that ambiguity. This time the law is clear, yet more of a gotya’ than a service to democracy when those it apply to, and are charged with enforcing it are generally unaware of the requirement.

In this case, a good decision. Hopefully extended to all the similar situations in Connecticut this year. Yet, to obeyed precisely in the future.

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