The Libertarian Party of New Hampshire has taken the state to court to challenge the signature threshold so they can become a recognized party. It looks like even the justices are having a hard time swallowing the state’s defense:
Justices asked Senior Assistant Attorney General Wynn Arnold a series of tough questions about how high the bar can be set before it infringes on voting rights.
“You think the average voter is going to be confused by three parties on the ballot?” asked Chief Justice John Broderick.
[…] Attorney Paul Twomey, who was representing Libertarians and other minority parties pro bono, cited everything from the 111-party Iraqi election to the McDonald’s drive-through window in arguing that voters can handle more than two parties on their ballots. The right to vote and the right to run for office are at stake, he argued.
“The majority party gets to drive the train, but it has to run on the tracks of the Constitution,”Twomey said.
[…] Justices focused a good deal of attention on why the bar was raised in the late 1990s.
“Voters in 1996 were not confused by three parties,” Broderick said. “Three years later, in 1999, we had to protect them from confusion? You think that’s rational?”
I’m willing to bet they strike down the law when the dust settles. I’m actually hoping someone has the balls to cite first amendment free speech rights as a reason to be on the ballot (or something to that effect). If we can get a case like this with ties to civil liberties violations. it would really give Libertarians and third parties in other states an extremely cite-able case for their own attempts at killing off draconian ballot access legislature, perhaps even making it possible for us to petition the U.S. Supreme Court for action on some of these unconstitutional ballot access laws.
The First Amendment guarantees not only freedom of speech and religion, but freedom of association. Voters have a First Amendment right to sort themselves out into whichever parties they wish. Ballot access is protected by the U.S. Constitution, and laws which keep us off the ballot violate the U.S. Constitution.