Minor political parties sue California to get candidates on November ballot

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Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo

Secretary of State Debra Bowen was named in a lawsuit today from two minor political parties that want their candidates qualified for the November ballot.

Two minor political parties sued the California secretary of state today, claiming that the process of qualifying for the November ballot is burdensome and unconstitutional.

The ACLU of Southern California filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of the Justice Party and Constitution Party of California.

California law requires new political parties to file paperwork with the secretary of state 135 days before a primary election, which this year would have been Jan. 22. That deadline required 1 percent of the number of voters in the last gubernatorial race, about 103,000 people, to identify with the new party.

That process infringes on the First Amendment, according to the lawsuit.

“California’s party-qualification scheme violates the bedrock constitutional principle that like-minded individuals can join together freely and compete on fair and equal terms in the political arena,” said David Sapp, an attorney with the ACLU of Southern California.

“Courts have repeatedly struck down qualification deadlines that fall much closer to the relevant election, so California has no justification for continuing to enforce its January deadline, which is unquestionably among the most burdensome in the nation.”

There was no immediate comment from Secretary of State Debra Bowen's office.

The two groups are asking for an injunction against the state’s party-qualification policy. The Justice Party and Constitution Party of California also want their candidates for president and vice president be listed on the November ballot.

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