COFOE MEETING OF AUGUST 18, 2019
The meeting was held at 1:30 p.m., on Sunday, August 18, 2019, at the law office of James Clymer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Attendees in-person were:
1. James Clymer, Constitution Party
2. Greg Dorsey, COFOE Treasurer and Webmaster
3. James Hedges, Prohibition Party
4. Charles Sherrouse, Green Party
5. Richard Winger, Libertarian Party
Attendees by conference call were:
6. Matt Erard, Socialist Party
7. Harry Kresky, Independent Voting
8. Rob Richie, Fairvote
These officers were elected or re-elected to one-year terms: Chair Charles Sherrouse, Vice-Chair Harry Kresky, Secretary Richard Winger, Treasurer Greg Dorsey.
The minutes of the last meeting, the March 2017 meeting, were approved.
The Treasurer reported that we have $6,035.54 in the bank. The bank is Flushing Savings Bank, 33 Irving Place, New York NY 10003.
A brief review of what COFOE has done since the last meeting was presented. In 2017 we paid off the debt owed by the Alabama Constitution, Green, and Libertarian Parties from the 2012 lawsuit that challenged the Alabama petition deadline of March. That case had lost because the attorney for the three parties had missed a deadline to present evidence, and the judge had then assessed court costs against the plaintiffs. Those costs had been high because the state had conducted such lengthy depositions.
We appropriated $1,000 to each of two lobbyists, one in Georgia and one in Alabama, to work for ballot access bills. Bills were introduced in each state, but neither passed.
We joined an amicus curiae for the Utah Republican Party’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case to expand freedom for parties to choose their own nomination rules, but the Court did not hear that case.
We recently filed an amicus with the U.S. Supreme Court in a case over the Alabama petition requirement for independent candidates for U.S. House in special elections. That case is pending and we may get some news about whether the court will hear it, on October 1.
We noted with sorrow that past treasurer Elliot Traiman had died on July 8, 2017.
Under new business, we appropriated $2,000 for lawsuit expenses for a future lawsuit by the Arizona Green Party against the new deadline for the party petition, passed in 2019. It is November of the year before the election. Bryan Sells, who has won quite a few other ballot access cases, will handle the case. The deadline is 250 days before the August primary.
We appropriated $500 for lawsuit expenses for a future lawsuit by an independent presidential candidate, Kyle Kopitke, against the February petition deadline for independent candidates in North Carolina, and against the number of signatures, which is approximately 70,000. Alan Woodruff, a North Carolina attorney who has won some ballot access cases, will handle the case. There is already a reported decision from 2004 in North Carolina, DeLaney v Bartlett, finding that the state can’t require more signatures for an independent candidate than for an entire new party. Despite this, the current law requires 11,000 signatures for new parties, so the state is again in violation of the DeLaney finding.
Jim Hedges said that if a future lawsuit is to be filed in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Prohibition Party has funds available and it would contribute. He said the national party might also be able to help with projects in other states.
Charles Sherrouse volunteered to set up an e-mail list serve for COFOE.
Rob Richie talked about the problem that in Maine and Massachusetts, it is almost impossible for members of a small qualified party to get themselves on their own party’s primary ballot. It was noted that the Libertarian Party is about to sue Maine over this.
Rob also talked about the coming bill in the U.S. House to be introduced by Congressman Jaime Raskin, concerning ranked choice voting. He asked if we agree that the bill ought to specify that when a state uses a vote test to determine if a party should remain on the ballot, the first count results should be used. We do agree with that point.
Richard Winger volunteered to draft an amendment to the COFOE bylaws, authorizing Board meetings by conference call. The technology for this meeting, for the three members who attended by conference call, worked very well.
The meeting ended at 2:40 p.m.
Full and fair access to the electoral process is a right central to democracy
Coalition for Free and Open Elections