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Peace and Freedom's Succesful Fight to Keep our Ballot Status
On Monday evening, January 30, 2006, the California Peace and Freedom Party's state chairperson Kevin Akin received a phone message from the Secretary of State's office claiming that the party had been removed from the ballot. When Kevin called the Secretary of State's office the next morning to get confirmation and an explanation, he was told that Secretary of State Bruce McPherson would issue a press release later that day saying we are no longer qualified party because we hadn't kept our registration above the one percent of total votes in the previous gubernatorial election (77,389) that we surpassed to regain our ballot status in 2003. The press release stated:
"Based upon the 154-day registration totals, the Peace and Freedom Party dropped below the required percentage of registered voters and is no longer a qualified party. That leaves six qualified parties eligible to nominate candidates in the upcoming primary."As a result of that press release newspapers throughout the state printed stories saying that the Peace and Freedom Party had lost its ballot status, and many of these stories failed to give any explanation of how McPherson had misinterpreted the law, leaving readers with the impression that we would be off the ballot and were just upset about it.
In fact, Secretary of State McPherson's office misinterpreted the law, in a way which no previous Secretary of State had done in the 77 years since its basic provisions were first enacted.
The law provides two ways in which parties not on the ballot can become ballot-qualified:
The law also provides two ways in which ballot-qualified parties can keep their ballot-qualified status when it is reviewed following a gubernatorial election:
The law provides three ways in which parties on the ballot can lose their ballot-qualified status:
The Peace and Freedom Party has been a ballot-qualified party since February 2003. We couldn't be disqualified on January 31st under the first method, because it was not time for such a review of parties' qualifications. We couldn't be disqualified on January 31st under the second method, because we had registration roughly six times greater than the minimum requirement. We couldn't be disqualified on January 31st under the third method, because it would have required the consent of the Attorney General and prior notice of an intention to disqualify the party, neither of which happened. (While we don't consider our defense of California's working class and our opposition to United States imperialism to be seditious or treasonous, it is possible that Bush, Schwarzenegger, and their Republican Party minions and Democratic Party friends may do so.)
The text of the relevant sections of the Elections Code:
There have been at least five cases in California's political history prior to 2006 where a political party was qualified by registration between two gubernatorial elections, but did not maintain its registration at the level required for qualification for the entire period until the next gubernatorial election. In each of these cases, the Secretary of State ruled the party qualified to participate in the next gubernatorial election, in which some kept their qualification by vote totals and some did not.
While the Peace and Freedom Party's activists and members were outraged by Secretary of State McPherson's illegal attempt to remove our party from the ballot, we weren't the only ones. Richard Winger, editor and publisher of Ballot Access News, played a key role in gathering and distributing information to support our remaining on the ballot. In addition to drawing our attention to the 1934, 1950 and 2002 precedents (we found the other two on our own), he was able to speak to current and former staff of the Secretary of State's office so that they were aware of the precedents and their relevance. In doing so, he found that county election officials and Secretary of State's staff outside of a select few were not made aware that McPherson was even considering disqualifying the Peace and Freedom Party until after the decision was made. This may be because several former high-ranking officials in the Secretary of State's Elections Division said McPherson was clearly wrong as soon as they heard of the decision.
The Green Party of California issued a statement in support of our right to ballot access on Friday, February 3rd, just before McPherson reversed his decision:
State Senator Debra Bowen, Chairperson of the Senate Elections, Redistricting and Constitutional Amendments Committee, had her staff spend quite a bit of time pursuing the issue during the time between McPherson's initial decision and its reversal. After the reversal, she issued a press release (which may be related to her being a Democratic Party candidate for Secretary of State):
At 1:57 pm on Friday, February 3, 2006, three minutes before the scheduled start of a press conference outside the Secretary of State's building in Sacramento, the Secretary of State's office called the Peace and Freedom Party's attorney, Bob Evans, and told him that the decision had been reversed. This was also confirmed at about that time to a reporter from the Sacramento Bee, and has also been reported independently by the Associated Press and the Oakland Tribune, but the Secretary of State has not yet announced it on his website.
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This page was last updated on 4 February 2006.