Socratic Gadfly posted an item Sunday, linking to a pair of articles on Ballot Access News (one and two). It's a good thing we don't pay these clowns more than a per diem, because they're wasting precious time filing bills destined to be overturned in court. The Legislature packs a lot of serious business into its five-month session, or at least it's supposed to.
Any Texas lieutenant governor worthy of the office would take one look at these bills and give them a speedy burial in the Senate Calendar Committee. Sadly, we have Dan Patrick in that position. On the House side, we'd best hope that the appropriate committee chair knows unconstitutionality when he or she sees it.
If no statewide Libertarian candidate reaches 5% in the midterm election, they lost that ballot line. If these bills are adopted, getting back on the ballot will be that much more difficult.
The Greens, as reported here previously, lost their ballot line in November, and must rebuild for 2018.
Jim Riley's comment on the Ballot Access article regarding HB 1061 is more informative by far than the actual article:
The aim of the bill is to prevent voters from picking their party on election day, based on who was running. A voter might choose a primary based on the candidates running. In Texas, the Democratic primary for major offices might not be contested, so conceivably voters could vote in Republican primary, and then vote for the Democrat in the general election.
The restriction on cross-over participation would be the same under HB 1061, but the party choice would have to be established 30 days before the primary (any change after that time would not be processed until the end of the year). In addition, the voter would have to actively change the registration for future elections.
Tashjian said that Connecticut had to let independent voters vote for Republican nominees for certain offices. Of course, Justice [Thurgood] Marshall was wrong with respect to splitting offices. Section IV is pure gobbledygook. See Justice [John Paul] Stevens['s] dissent to understand why.
Under current Texas law, this is not a problem, since all voters are “independent” before they actually vote in a primary. When they vote, it is not a question whether a voter is Democrat or Republican or independent, it is whether they have voted in another party’s primary.
Currently, Texas does not permit a voter to sign an independent petition if they have previously voted in a primary for the office in question. This has been upheld in American Party of Texas v. White. When Kinky Friedman and Carole of the Many Names were running for governor in 2006, the Friedman campaign urged voters to not vote in the primary, to save themselves for Kinky.
The problem with the new bill is that it is possible that someone could have skipped the primary and still not be be permitted to sign a petition. It is a change from activity to status.
The Bill may undergo some amending to bring it within the bounds of the Constitution. Registering as Independent (or No Party, as they call it in Oklahoma and elsewhere) may still afford a voter a chance to sign a petition. It's still up in the air.
Even with all the mights and might-nots, it's awfully irritating that any legislator, from any party, is trafficking in such blatantly anti-democratic crap—unless you're one of those who is perfectly content with two and only two political parties.