Candidate Appeals Being Denied Place on Ballot
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Tim O’Brien
DEARBORN. “We’ll go all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to,” vowed State Board of Education candidate Jon Coon as an appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals was filed on behalf of both him and the Libertarian Party he represents.
The appeal arises out of a ruling by the Bureau of Elections barring Coon from appearing on the November 7th general election ballot because he refused to sign a new form stating under penalty of perjury that he is in full compliance with every detail of campaign finance law.
“We are challenging the constitutionality of this new ballot access requirement,” said party executive director Tim O’Brien. “The legislature is empowered by the constitution to regulate the ‘time, place and manner’ of elections in order to ensure that the process is orderly,” he continued. “They do not have the lawful authority to deny an otherwise qualified candidate, properly nominated by a bona fide political party, the opportunity to appear on the ballot at all as a method of enforcing an essentially unrelated law.”
But isn’t campaign finance related?
“No,” O’Brien answers. “There may be good and compelling reasons why candidates should be required to disclose the sources and amounts of their campaign funding. But that is about how — and on behalf of whom — they conduct their campaigns. It has nothing to do with regulating ‘the time, place and manner’ of elections,” he reiterated, “which is the only constitutional authority of the legislature in the area of elections.”
Both Coon and the LP were undaunted by an August 23, 2000 ruling by Ingham County Circuit Judge Michael Harrison that upheld the Election Bureau’s decision.
“The sum and substance of Judge Harrison’s ruling was that the new law merely requires that candidates swear that they have filed every form, not that the information they provided is true and complete. That is a strained, if not just plain silly distinction,” he concluded with more than a hint of exasperation.
“I expect,” said attorney Ghazey Aleck, “that the case will be remanded to Judge Harrison to rule on our main contention that the new law unconstitutionally makes compliance with the Michigan Campaign Finance Act a qualification for running for office.”
The appeal is expected to take months to complete and will not get Jon Coon back on the November 7th ballot.