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Vol. 76/No. 34      September 24, 2012

SWP argues for right
to be on ballot in Florida
MIAMI—The Florida Department of State informed the Socialist Workers Party Aug. 31 that it would not place the party’s presidential candidates on the ballot for the November election. A few days earlier, campaign supporters had filed a list of 29 electors and three alternates at the Division of Elections office in Tallahassee.

The SWP was on the presidential ballot in Florida in 2000, 2004 and 2008. This year, officials used a new undemocratic election law, adopted in 2011, to declare the party ineligible.

To get on the presidential ballot, what the state calls “minor” political parties—that is anyone but the Democrats and Republicans—must either collect 112,174 signatures on nominating petitions or be affiliated with “a political party that is registered with and recognized as a qualified national committee of a political party by the Federal Election Commission.”

Attorney Michael Krinsky, of the noted political rights firm Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, wrote a letter accompanying the Florida filing of its candidates and electors, explaining why the candidates should be placed on the ballot.

The letter pointed out that the SWP is a “duly registered and recognized” party in Florida with a long history of running candidates and campaigning in the state and nationally. The party “has run candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States in every election since 1948, as well as numerous other candidates for state, federal and local offices between 1938 and today.”

For 40 years, the SWP has fought for and won an exemption from having to file the names and addresses of its campaign contributors with the FEC to protect them from being targeted and harassed by government agents and rightists.

Based on this history, in 2010 the FEC advised the SWP campaign committee that “commission records indicate that your committee is a party committee.”

However, in order to avoid onerous reporting and structural requirements, the committee is registered as a Political Action Committee and has not sought “national committee” status.

This is the basis on which the Division of Elections claims the SWP candidates are not qualified to be on the ballot.

The requirement to be recognized by the FEC as a “national committee” in order to have candidates on the ballot “is, itself, clearly unconstitutional under the governing decision of the Florida Supreme Court,” Krinsky argued. In 2004 the court held that the “FEC’s interest relates to the integrity of campaign fundraising access, whereas the state’s interest lies in protecting the integrity of the ballot.”

“Inclusion of the FSWP candidates on the ballot would not confuse or deceive voters,” Krinsky said, “but rather would give them a choice to vote for FSWP’s distinctive political positions, which are unlike those of all other parties presenting candidates on the ballot.”
Related articles:
‘US bosses’ 2-party system provides illusion of choice’
SWP pres. candidate starts Pacific tour in Australia
Fla. meeting answers denial of ballot status to SWP
Chicago: Socialist candidate backs teachers’ fight  
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