A Tale of Two Petitions
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Here in Indiana, election laws require candidates for statewide office to submit signature petitions from 500 registered voters from each of the state’s nine Congressional districts before they can appear on primary ballots.
Recently, Rep. Todd Young, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, saw his petition signatures challenged by the Indiana Democratic Party and his GOP competitor. The challenge centered on one district, where Rep. Young submitted a number of signatures perilously close to the minimum. An independent effort by the Indianapolis Star found only 497 valid signatures, despite the campaign’s claims of 501 valid ones and improper rejections.
As the challenge progressed, many Republicans across the state endorsed Young, while simultaneously speaking in favor of “their guy” in comments aimed at the Indiana Election Commission.
As many expected, a 4-member panel deadlocked at 2-2 along party lines, preventing any action by the commission.
The challenge prompted a bill from Young’s party, who enjoys supermajority status in both chambers of the state legislature, to reduce the hurdle from 500 to 200.
Roughly 750 miles away, the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma submitted 42,000 signatures to the state Election Board in an effort to be recognized as a political party and have candidates appear on the general election ballot this November.
Rather than risk a close call akin to Rep. Young’s, the Libertarians submitted almost double the number of the 24,745 signatures necessary to survive signature any challenges during validation.
Having been a part of ballot access petitioning in the past, I find that the latter method is preferable to the first. Doing so eliminates many angles of attack used by those in power to prevent competition in the marketplace of politics. Without friendly members of the board, it’s unlikely that things would have a rosy outcome for the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma, had they not turned in far more signatures than necessary.
While the validation in Oklahoma remains, do you expect an outcome similar to Rep. Young’s, had the Libertarians taken the riskier action with their petition turn-in?
I guess it pays to have friends in high places.