If you're confused, especially after looking at the application for a mail-in ballot, you're not alone. Fortunately, GPTX has you thoroughly covered.
The instructions above the checkboxes for questions 6a and 6b provide all you really need to know. Unless you are apply to vote by mail specifically in a primary election, check just one box:
I could probably just link to it, but I decided that it would be better to download from txcourts.gov and then upload it here.
Last week the Texas Supreme Court granted mandamus relief to a group of Green-affiliated appellants, overturning the 3rd Appeals Court's decision that ordered the removal of kat gruene, Tom Wakely, and me from Texas ballots. Laura Palmer, as we noted last Thursday, took the lead on this round of litigation, with her co-chair Alfred Molison and the Green Party of Texas joining her as Relators. Click here and scroll down to see the complete list of Dramatis Personae.
In intra-GPTX correspondence, Palmer referred to the action as "our Hail Mary." (That's an American football metaphor, in case you're not familiar with it.) The reason it seemed like a last-minute desperation bomb was that the case would be taken up after the state's official deadline for publishing of ballots. Apparently some counties had already printed, and even sent, mail-in ballots. Indeed the Court's opinion acknowledges Democratic Railroad Commission candidate Chrysta Castañeda's contention that the case was already moot.
It's important to remember that this decision does not find the filing fee provision in HB 2504 unconstitutional. The federal case still pending may make such a finding, but that won't happen until June 2021 at the earliest. With all that in mind, at last night's Zoom meeting of the GPTX State Executive Committee, I floated the idea of a fundraising campaign for a dedicated fund to pay filing fees for Green candidates. I couched my pitch in phraseology like now that this party has reached the age of majority, it's time for it to grow up and act like an actual party. GPTX as currently constituted will turn 21 next spring. Palmer agrees with me on that.
One of the cool ramifications of the Supreme Court's opinion is that there is no need to pay filing fees when a candidate files. There is no deadline specified in the relevant sections of the Election Code for paying fees—or, one would assume, the petition signatures in lieu of fees. Greens, Libertarians, and any other parties that gain ballot access can wait until after their nominating conventions and pay only for the nominees. That would certainly help avoid what happened this past spring, when two people filed to run as Greens, paid their fees, and were subsequently defeated by None of the Above at the Green Convention. Under current law, the Secretary of State's Office would be under no compulsion to refund the fees to candidates who do not win nomination.
Below are a couple of excerpts from the opinion that I found important and revelatory, with citations included this time. (Emphasis: boldface mine, underlines theirs.)
To be entitled to mandamus relief, Castañeda was required to establish that the Green Party co-chairs had a ministerial duty to declare the candidates ineligible. See In re Williams, 470 S.W.3d 819, 821 (Tex. 2015) (holding that mandamus may issue to compel performance of a ministerial act). “An act is ministerial when the law clearly spells out the duty to be performed by the official with sufficient certainty that nothing is left to the exercise of discretion.” Id. (quoting Anderson v. City of Seven Points, 806 S.W.2d 791, 793 (Tex. 1991)). For the reasons explained below, Castañeda failed to prove the Election Code clearly spelled out the duty of the co-chairs to declare the Green Party candidates ineligible for their failure to pay the filing fee, and the court of appeals therefore erred in ordering their removal from the ballot.
I filled out the candidate questionnaire for the voter guide distributed by the League of Women Voters of Texas. Since the guide will be online as well, the League invited candidates for US Senate to drop a video, two minutes or less, on "the recent civil rights demonstrations." I was only too happy to put on my green button-down shirt and a tie to make the recording.
Texas PBS and Houston Public Media have also invited me to submit a two-minute recording for their "Elevator Pitch" series; that's next on the agenda.
This is taking me back to 2012, when I got to record my campaign pitch at KPRC-2 studios. I hadn't been inside that building since the 1960s, when I was a pre-schooler. My mother had some friends who worked there at the time; she had a temporary clerical job with KUHT-8. But that's a whole 'nother story.
Laura Palmer, GPTX co-chair, is an absolute badass, y'all. Charles Waterbury has his share of badassery too, and his star on the Green Party of Texas Walk of Fame just doubled in size.
From the State Supreme Court today, re the matter referred to in the previous dbcgreentx blog entry:
The decision means that 254 county clerks or equivalents thereof have some extra work. Can't wait to read that forthcoming opinion, even though my legalese is still pretty rusty.
This news makes me all tingly inside. At the same time, I feel a bit like the dog who's been chasing cars for years and finally caught one. OK, now what do I do with it?
I am not going to provide details while this matter is still unresolved, but it is possible that Tom Wakely, kat gruene, and I will be restored to Texas ballots this fall. Said matter is now before the State Supreme Court.
Not having details at hand doesn't mean that I have nothing to say about it.
There's a downside to a positive outcome in this case: It will look as though an all-Republican Court intervened on behalf of a party that the Democrats perceive as posing "permanent and irreparable harm," to quote MJ Hegar's attorney. That in turn would buttress the perception among Democrats that the Greens are just tools of the Republicans.
From Alejandro Serrano in the Houston Chronicle (paywall) Saturday, with an update Sunday:
The state’s high court Saturday rejected an effort by state and national Republicans to remove 44 Libertarian Party candidates from the ballot for failing to pay candidate filing fees.
This particular article repeats the old canard that Libertarians steal votes from Republican candidates and Greens from Democratic candidates—or are "generally seen" as doing so. It is "generally seen" in the journalistic community that one cannot write an article involving either party without a paragraph about siphoning votes from the big parties. The article does not mention, as a previous piece in the Chronicle did, that the GOP did not try to knock Libertarians who face no Republican opposition off the ballot.
As GPTX Co-Chair Laura Palmer said in her plea to the SOS Office, enforce the statute equally or not at all; since we consider the filing fee provision unconstitutional, we would prefer not at all.
What the Court Said
Here is the Supreme Court's 12-page decision in its entirety. As the heading reveals, it wasn't even the Texas GOP as a whole that request the writ of mandamus; it was the Texas House Republican Caucus PAC. Below is the key paragraph from that decision (emphasis mine):
Although the result in this instance may be that candidates who failed to pay the required filing fee will nevertheless appear on the ballot, this Court cannot deviate from the text of the law by subjecting the Libertarian candidates’ applications to challenges not authorized by the ElectionCode. The Legislature established detailed rules for ballot access and for challenges to candidates, and courts must carefully apply these rules based on the statutory text chosen by the Legislature. The available mechanism for seeking the Libertarians’ removal from the ballot for failure to pay the filing fee was a declaration of ineligibility. However, the deadline by which such a declaration can achieve the removal of candidates from the ballot has passed. The Election Code does not permit the relators to bypass that deadline by belatedly challenging the Libertarians’ applications. The petition for writ of mandamus is denied.
The decision was 7-0, with two justices not participating. As evidenced by the several appearances of "we agree with the relators that" and similar phrases, the Court's only rationale for denying the writ of mandamus was that it was filed too late to provide a remedy.
Advice on Campaign Strategy
This blogger, who last year applied to run for US Senate without the accompanying $5,000 filing fee or 5,000 petition signatures, does not recommend the same practice for any Green, Libertarian, or People's Party member intending to run for public office in 2022. As of now, prospective candidates should be aware that, should they choose to run without the fee, the Secretary of State's Office will not deny their applications unless and until a declaration of ineligibility is submitted.
(BTW, what will the shorthand demonym for a People's Party member be? They can't really use "Populist" because that word has developed some negative connotations. "Peoplist" perhaps?)
The circumstances in the previous paragraph may change following the 2021 legislative session. I'm fully expecting a sequel to HB 2504 and additional ballot-access entertainment from the Lege.
Be advised also that the above circumstances pertain only to statewide offices and offices with districts in more than one county. If the office one seeks has a jurisdiction entirely within one county, then the County Clerk or equivalent authority determines whether an application is valid sans fee or petition signatures.
The formatting tools in Weebly are now working as they should, so I'm fixing the formatting for this entry. Hyperlinks, however, still don't work right.
Dikeman, Texas Libertarian nominee for US Senate in 2018, has published (and subsequently updated) an account on Texas Free Press concerning the recent successful effort by Democratic candidates to shove my Green comrades and me off the ballot. You can copy and paste the URL below to read the full article.
Dikeman is also a lead plaintiff in the federal lawsuit against the Texas Secretary of State's Office, challenging the filing fee provision of HB 2504 as unconstitutional. He provides a good, detailed explanation for why the whole business, including the filing fees, makes no logical sense except as a way to thwart so-called third parties.
While the Republicans (and the Democrats in Davis) tried to argue the law equalized the situation between 3rd Party and Major party nominees, it in fact did the opposite. Unlike the primary filing fees paid by the Republican and Democratic candidates—which are paid to their own party--to be on the party's primary ballot for nomination (ostensibly to both reduce the number of primary candidates and defray part of the state funded primary costs), the HB2504 law required 3rd Party candidates to pay equivalent dollar amounts of fees directly to state or county coffers, and to do so to be on the general election ballot, which the Republicans and Democrats are not charged to be on—because of course, the 3rd Party conventions by law are privately funded, and the Republicans had zero desire to write an equal law that would effectively fund the party they were trying to impact. (emphasis Dikeman's)
Party suppression is voter suppression. If you deprive people a chance to vote for the party and candidates who best represent their values, you essentially deprive them of a vote.
But you might say, "Hey, Dave, what about actual Nazis—not just Republicans with Nazistic tendencies, but loud, proud Hitlerites? Would you want to have them on the ballot?" Of course I wouldn't, but (1) fortunately their numbers are too small to compete in legitimate elections, and (2) although one can fantasize about outlawing organizations that advocate violence toward certain demographic groups, per the First Amendment the law can act only when that advocacy turns to action. In this Land of the Allegedly Free, Nazis don't need swastika flags to take power when they have major-party politicians willing to enact at least a portion of their agenda.
Despite their reputation, especially in left-wing circles, as Second Amendment absolutists, true Libertarians are not Nazis. The fact that several Texas Libertarians have gone to bat for the Greens this year illustrates that they believe we should have a place at the table. The policy positions that Greens and Libertarians have in common, particularly that of ending imperialist wars, exemplify coalition politics in the multi-party system we hope to create.
Now you can too! I'll see about getting some individual speeches up later.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.