North Dakota Libertarians sue Secretary of State

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July 21, 2010

By Kyle Maichle

BISMARCK, North Dakota: The North Dakota Libertarian Party is suing Secretary of State Al Jaeger on claims that state election laws treat third party candidates unfairly[1].

The Center for Competitive Politics, a Washington, D.C. based advocacy group, is suing on behalf the state's party chairperson and two candidates for the state legislature on the 2010 primary ballot that did not get enough votes to qualify for the general election. Oliver Hall, the Attorney representing the Libertarians, claims that the state's requirement to get a minimum amount of votes in the primary along with 7,000 signatures for ballot access is unconstitutional. Hall claims the law restricts free speech and due process rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution[1].

Jager told the Bismarck Tribune that it's not his responsibility to determine which election laws are constitutional. The state's top election officer said: "we follow the law, and if they disagree with the law, they have the right to pursue satisfaction for whatever they feel is a problem."[1]

North Dakota is the only state in the nation to have this type of a requirement for third party candidates to get on the ballot. Minnesota had a similar law until their Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional[1]. According to Ballot Access News, no third party candidate for the legislature has qualified for the general election since 1976[1].

No hearing date has been set, but lawyers are racing with a September 3, 2010 deadline to resolve the case. That is when the ballots for the general election will be printed[1].

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