PHOENIX (CN) – The Arizona Green Party wants to kick 11 “sham candidates” off the November ballot, claiming the candidates – some of them homeless – were recruited by the Republican Party to take votes away from Democrats. The federal complaint claims that a state law allowing candidates to “hijack” a party’s nomination with only one write-in vote is unconstitutional, and “will cause party members to mistakenly vote for sham candidates.”
The Green Party says the law that allowed the candidates to qualify as candidates violates the party’s First Amendment rights “by forcing the party to be publicly associated with candidates who have not been nominated by the party, who will alter the political message and agenda of the party, who will mislead the voting public with respect to what the party and its adherents believe, and who will cause party members to mistakenly vote for sham candidates.”
According to the complaint, members of the Arizona Republican Party encouraged its own members and members of other parties to run as write-in candidates in the Aug. 24 primary.
Of the 11 candidates, “none were members of the AGP for more than a few days before becoming AGP candidates,” and they “do not share in the AGP’s values and ideologies,” according to the complaint.
Candidate Christopher Campbell acknowledged that he was approached by the Republican Party to “run as a sham AGP candidate in District 10 with the specific intent to take votes away from the Democratic nominee,” the complaint states.
Campbell was a registered Republican until July 15, when he filed as a Green write-in candidate – the last day to file as a write-in candidate, according to the complaint.
The Green Party says that the nomination papers of Anthony Goshorn, Thomas Meadows, Theodore Gomez, and Benjamin Pearcy were all written in the same handwriting that matched Steve May’s, a Republican candidate for District 17.
May admitted that he signed up people to run on the Green ticket, in a Wednesday interview with National Public Radio. “The grand poobahs of the Green Party don’t get to decide who’s on the ballot,” Green said. “It’s up to the people.”
In its complaint, the Green Party says that May is not the only Republican who is trying to “hijack” candidates. It claims that Matt Salmon, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, sent a Facebook message seeking to recruit Green Party members to run in certain races.
The Green Party claims that while “it is very difficult to qualify for the general election as a Democrat, Republican, and Libertarian write-in candidate … unopposed Green write-in candidates are able to qualify for the general election if they simply vote for themselves. This discrepancy makes it easy for other political parties or non-AGP members to hijack the AGP.”
Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian write-in candidates are required to obtain significantly more write-in votes to qualify for election, the Green Party says.
It claims that “minor parties face a greater danger that their constitutional rights will be violated simply because they operate against the ideology of the majority.”
By subjecting the Green Party to “a statutory mechanism that forces them to associate with unwanted nominees while simultaneously shielding major parties from this same mechanism,” its 14th Amendment rights to due process are violated, the party says.
The party wants the Arizona Secretary of State and all the county recorders and commissions enjoined from placing the sham candidates on the ballot.
The party is represented by Keith Beauchamp with Coopersmith, Schermer, and Brockelman.