Sunday, September 7, 2008

Unethical Obama and unethical McCain appear on Texas ballot, in violation of state law (Bob Barr has a point)


At Positive Liberty, Jim Babka asks a question:

Do you think you live in a nation of laws? That all are created equal and even the powerful must abide by the law?

So, do you?

Well, let's look at the interesting case of Bob Barr and Texas Election Code § 192.031. We'll start with Ballot Access News:

Section 192.031 of the Texas election code says that political parties must certify their presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the November ballot no later than 70 days before the general election. It says, “A political party is entitled to have the names of its nominees for president and vice-president placed on the ballot if before 5 p.m. of the 70th day before presidential election day, the party’s state chair signs and delivers to the secretary of state a written certification of the name’s of the party’s nominees for president and vice-president.”

This year, that deadline is August 26. UPDATE: At 2:30 pm Texas time, August 27, Kim Kizer of the Texas Secretary of State’s elections division says neither major party’s certification has been received in the Elections Division.

The website proclaimed "Bob Barr Cements being the only presidential candidate on the ballot." forgets that the two excluded political parties are the parties that spawned the Clintons and Richard Nixon. Somehow I have a sneaking suspicision that, in the words of Jerry Harrison, "the rules do not apply."

If you go to the Texas Secretary of State web page, both major political parties have their candidates listed on the ballot.

On Friday, Bob Barr's campaign issued a statement:

The Bob Barr presidential campaign has stated “serious legal consequences” will occur should Senators Barack Obama and John McCain be allowed on the Texas general election ballot after they knowingly missed the state’s deadline to file.

According to documents obtained by the Barr campaign, neither John McCain nor Barack Obama complied with Texas Election Code § 192.031, which requires that filings must be submitted “before 5 p.m. of the 70th day before presidential Election Day,” listing the “names of the party’s nominees for president and vice-president.”

“The Election Code of the State of Texas imposes requirements on a political party, which must be met if its candidates for president and vice-presidents are to appear on the general election ballot,” Russell Verney, Bob Barr’s campaign manager stated in a letter sent to the Texas Secretary of State’s office. “The Democratic Party and Mr. Obama, and the Republican Party and Mr. McCain, blatantly ignored the Texas statutory deadline.”

The deadline, which was set at 5 p.m. on August 26, passed before Sen. Obama was nominated and before Sen. McCain had even selected his running mate.

“The law is clear, and it was clearly not followed,” says Verney. “The Texas Supreme Court was emphatic when it stated that the law ‘does not allow political parties or candidates to ignore statutory deadlines . . .’ Senators Obama and McCain did not file by the deadline; therefore, Texas should abide by the laws it created. No political party or candidate is above the law.”

Section 192.031 of the Texas Election Code can be found here.

And The Moderate Voice's account of what happened next can be found here:

"Since we sent out our release yesterday regarding Bob [Barr] being the only presidential candidate certified in Texas, a spokeswoman for the Texas Secretary of State’s office stated that, 'Upon further checking, both parties filed before the deadline. We expect their amended filings after both parties finish their nominating process at the conventions.'"

The people doing the heavy lifting on this investigation have yet to locate any exception in Texas election law allowing for substitutions of candidate names or amendments after the filing deadline. The law is short, clear and concise. Such exceptions are allowed in West Virginia, Massachusetts, Maine and Pennsylvania.

The Moderate Voice then adds the following:

These are all states where the Republican Party has filed in court to try to get Barr off the ballot.

Let's go back to Positive Liberty:

Those who participate in minority party politics (a/k/a, “third parties”) learn first hand about segregation and discrimination. They must do a great deal more, in most states, to qualify for a place on the ballot — a ballot that is printed and counted at taxpayer expense. No equal access here.

And if these minority parties make a mistake on their infinitely more difficult filing process, no matter how minute and technical, they lose their ballot line. They can challenge it in court, they can even appeal the initial decision — which usually goes against them — but by the time they might win that appeal, the election is over.

And incidenally, this isn't the first time that a major political party messed up on filing deadlines:

George W. Bush missed the filing deadline in Florida in 2004 which, at that time, also had no exceptions for the filing deadline, but was put on the ballot anyway.

(This actually boggles belief. Of all states to miss the filing deadline in 2004, the Bush team failed to file in - Florida?)

Positive Liberty asked:

And why isn’t this being discussed on the 24-hour, all-politics, all-the-time channels. Palin’s daughter, Obama’s charisma, and Mrs. McCain’s dress are more important? No, even the mainstream media expects Texas to ignore the law and so this is a non-story.

I just searched the and websites (using the search term "texas ballot") and confirmed that neither site has covered this story.

The Roanoke (Virginia) Times scooped them.

So, the next time that you hear Barack Obama and John McCain talking about integrity, ask them why they're on the Texas ballot.


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