PHOENIX (CN) — Arizona law unconstitutionally requires political parties to file their presidential nominating papers more than 90 days in advance of a primary election, the Arizona Green Party claims in court.
The party, presumptive Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein, and two party members filed suit against Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan last week in Federal Court.
According to the complaint, an Arizona law requiring political parties to file their nominating papers within 90 to 120 days before a primary election unconstitutionally puts at risk “the electorate being denied the opportunity to vote for the presidential and vice presidential nominees of an established political party.”
Arizona is one of two states that requires political parties to submit the names of their presidential candidates before Aug. 1 of the presidential election year, the party claims. It also requires parties to submit the names before the national party convention takes place.
“Arizona has a history of voter suppression. Here Arizona state officials are ignoring prior court decisions,” Stein said in a statement. “We intend to fight these games in every state where the establishment parties try to prevent voters from supporting the candidates of their choice.”
The complaint says “limiting the ability of electors to cast votes if nominations for the electors are not received far in advance of the general election, diminish the statewide and national viability of the organization whose ballot presence is denied, thereby diminishing the value of votes cast by the harmed parties.”
The Green Party convention doesn’t take place until Aug. 4-7.
The party also claims Reagan did not send it the correct presidential candidate nomination forms in time to place its candidate on the general election ballot.
The first time Reagan informed the party of the deadline to file its nomination papers for its presidential and vice-presidential candidates was the same day they were due, June 1, the lawsuit says.
“Yet, even at that late date, the Arizona Secretary of State’s Elections Office had not sent the Arizona Green Party the correct and updated nomination papers forms to complete to meet the June 1, 2016, deadline, and the updated forms could not be located on the Arizona Secretary of State’s website,” the complaint claims.
The party says Reagan did not get it the current forms until June 9, at which time state co-chair Angel Torres delivered the papers to her office.
“The office issued a receipt for the papers and took possession of them, but elections officials said that the deadline to file them had passed,” the lawsuit says. Reagan’s office also said the party would have to go to court to get her to accept its papers.
The party claims the secretary of state’s office has sent a number of reminders in previous years about deadlines, including in the 2012 presidential nomination process.
“In consultation with the attorney general’s office we could not identify any statutory authority to waive that deadline or accept late nomination papers,” Reagan said in a June 7 statement. “The only remedy seems to be through the courts where a judge could direct our office to print the name of the Green Party nominee on the ballot.”
The Arizona Green Party seeks to have Reagan accept its nomination forms and place its presidential and vice presidential candidates on the general election ballot.
It is represented by Robert Barnes of Los Angeles.
“As Secretary Reagan mentioned, it’s unfortunate the Green Party missed the deadline and statute required us to deny the electors. There is no impending ballot printing deadline for the general election, so the statute’s incredibly early turn-in deadline doesn’t really make much sense,” said Matt Roberts, a spokeman for Reagan’s office. “It’s my understanding that we will enter into an agreement with the Party to accept their electors late and from what I understand the court will bless off on it. We’ve been happy to work with the Party to avoid a negative situation.”
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