Minutes of COFOE Board Meeting of August 22, 2021

​The meeting was held at 3 p.m eastern time, on Sunday, August 22, 2021, by zoom. 

Attendees were:

1. James Clymer, Constitution Party
2. Greg Dorsey, COFOE Treasurer and webmaster
3. Harry Kresky, Independent Voting
4. Rob Richie, FairVote
5. Charles Sherrouse, Green Party
6. Richard Winger, Libertarian Party 

These officers were re-elected to one-year terms:  Chair Charles Sherrouse, Vice-Chair Harry Kresky, Secretary Richard Winger, Treasurer Greg Dorsey. 

Treasurer Greg Dorsey reported that we have $6,002.09 in the bank.  The bank is Flushing Savings Bank, 33 Irving Place, New York NY 10003.  That amount is almost exactly what we had at the time of the last board meeting, in August 2019.  Greg is taking steps so that he can deposit checks electronically to the bank 

Old business:  COFOE contributions between September 2019 and the current time have been: 

1. A case against the California independent presidential petition signature requirement, De La Fuente v Padilla.  COFOE paid for an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, $1,840.76, signed by historians and political scientists.  The Court refused to hear the case. 

2. A case against the California independent presidential petition in 2020, given the circumstances making it difficult to collect 196,964 signatures entirely in the period April-August of that year, a period of covid danger.  COFOE contributed $1,500 to the attorneys’ fee.  The case lost in U.S. District Court and was not appealed. 

3. A case against the North Carolina independent presidential petition deadline of March 3, 2020.  The case lost in US District Court, and in the 4th circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.  COFOE spent $1,000 toward the attorney’s fee in the lower federal courts, and $1,120.40 on an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, which was signed by veterans of the Ross Perot 1992 presidential campaign. 

These expenditures followed COFOE’s tradition of helping independent candidates with legal costs in ballot access cases.  We had also appropriated $600 for a Florida lawsuit, but the plaintiff didn’t need our financial help, so the money was not spent. 

COFOE also joined an amicus curiae brief in a case involving the presidential debates, but the expense for that amicus was shouldered by Fairvote, which was the lead amicus. 

The American Solidarity Party has joined the COFOE board since the last meeting. 

New business:  Webmaster Greg Dorsey proposed revising the list of organizations that should be linked from the COFOE web page.  A final list could not be settled during the meeting, but board members with suggestions will communicate with other members of the Board, and a decision can be made by the Board via e-mail.  There is interest in linking to organizations that work to protect the initiative process, and organizations that are trying to improve the general election presidential debates, and others.  Greg will remove links to organizations already linked, but which seem dormant. 

Chairman Charles Sherrouse mentioned that COFOE has a facebook page, but it is not current.  There was also a discussion about twitter.  

Greg Dorsey pointed out that the COFOE website has a place for individuals to send comments or questions, but any such comments or questions are being lost, because there is no one designated as the recipient of the comments or questions.  The Board decided that Greg should design the website so that such comments or questions would be sent to both Charles Sherrouse and Richard Winger, and that they would coordinate a response from COFOE. 

Richard Winger presented a list of six potential ballot access cases that ought to be filed:  (1) Arizona allows electronic signatures on candidate petitions (if the candidates are running in a partisan primary), but not on petitions for party recognition, nor on petitions for independent candidates; (2) Indiana’s petition requirement for independent candidates and the nominees of unqualified parties is so severe that it has not been used statewide since 2000, over 20 years ago: (3) the Iowa legislature in 2021 added a distribution requirement that is clearly unconstitutional because it is based on counties, which have widely varying populations; (4) Kansas requires twice as many signatures for a new party as it requires votes for an old party to remain on: (5) Pennsylvania has some U.S. House districts with petition requirements in excess of 5,000 signatures, yet the statewide petition is exactly 5,000, a condition that violates two U.S. Supreme Court opinion, Illinois State Board of Elections v Socialist Workers Party, and Norman v Reed; (6) Tennessee requires over 50,000 signatures on its party petition and that petition has not been successfully used since 1968.  This information was presented just as a matter of interest, but no COFOE action on these potential lawsuits was suggested. 

Richard Winger will revise the website for Ballot Access News so that there is a link to the COFOE website. 

The meeting was adjourned at 4:15 p.m. eastern time.

   Full and fair access to the electoral process is a right central to democracy  

Coalition for Free and Open Elections