10 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 131 (1980-1981)
Challenging Restrictive Ballot Access Laws on Behalf of the Independent Candidate

handle is hein.journals/nyuls10 and id is 139 raw text is: CHALLENGING RESTRICTIVE BALLOT
As of April 24th, the date that John Anderson decided that he was an
independent candidate, there were three kinds of barriers to getting onto the
primary ballots. The most pressing problem was that there were five states
in which the deadlines for filing petition signatures for independent candi-
dates had expired. The most immediate order of business, therefore, was to
institute lawsuits in those five states and to have their filing deadlines
declared unconstitutional.
The second set of problems involved the possibility that a host of laws
in different states might be asserted against Anderson to keep him off the
ballot. These laws, known as disaffiliation laws, required that an inde-
pendent candidate have taken some affirmative action either to declare
himself independent or to resign or disaffiliate himself from any political
party some length of time before entering an electoral race. Sore loser
laws, which were in effect in many states, prohibited a candidate who had
run in a primary and lost from then switching tracks and trying to get on the
ballot as a third party or as an independent candidate.
The third type of problem faced by Anderson involved state laws which
had elaborate requirements regarding petition signatures, geographical dis-
tribution, the form of petitions, and so forth. The most outrageous example
was a West Virginia requirement that people who sign petitions indicate the
magisterial district in which they reside. The problem was that there was
absolutely no way to tell from state law, practice, court records, or anything
else what the boundaries of West Virginia's magisterial districts were. These
districts had basically gone out of existence. We were lucky enough to join
the Libertarian Party in a suit challenging this requirement in the state
supreme court. The court overturned the requirement,' and we got on the
ballot there.
We discovered that the Supreme Court had held quite resoundingly in
Williams v. Rhodes 2 that burdensome ballot-access restrictions constituted
an unconstitutional limitation on the rights of supporters of independent
candidates to vote and to associate. Since Williams, the Court has consist-
ently applied the strict scrutiny review which is appropriate when first
amendment rights are implicated, requiring that a compelling state interest
justify these restrictions. Since that decision, however, the Supreme Court
1. West Virginia Libertarian Party v. Manchin, 270 S.E.2d 634 (W.Va. 1980).
2. 393 U.S. 23 (1968).

Imaged with the Permission of N.Y.U. Review of Law and Social Change

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