HB 1134 has been pulled from the calendar and appears dead. However, we must remain vigilant. We will continue to monitor the legislature to make sure this bill doesn’t get revived or added to another elections bill.
State Rep. Ethan Manning (R) pulled his bill, HB 1134, from the House calendar. The bill sought to add the same signature requirements to minor party candidates seeking nomination at a closed convention as those the major parties’ candidates are required to submit to get on the primary election ballot.
Timothy Maguire, Chair of the Libertarian Party of Indiana, said he believes that HB 1134 was retaliation by disgruntled Republicans for how well Libertarian candidates did in the November election.
“It’s obvious to anyone paying attention that the party of Trump has abandoned any notion of small government principles and is hemorrhaging supporters. Instead of looking inward and reforming themselves, they blame third parties for their failures”, Maguire said.
For the first time in modern history a third party candidate received more than 10% in a 3-way statewide race in Indiana. Donald Rainwater, our 2020 candidate for Governor, received nearly 12% of the vote and came in second place in 32 of Indiana’s 92 counties.
But how was HB 1134 an assault on the Libertarian party if it just seeks to make the system fairer, as Rep. Manning has stated? Rep. Manning pointed out that Republican and Democrat candidates have to gather 4,500 signatures with at least 500 of them being from each Congressional district. Why shouldn’t our candidates have to do that?
I’m sure most of you know that Republicans and Democrats are nominated through a publicly funded primary election held in the spring. To keep their primary ballot from being jammed with dozens of candidates for each race, the legislature has imposed rules that require each candidate to gather enough valid signatures to show a minimum level of support from the voters.
But we don’t participate in the primary election. In fact, we are barred by law from participating in the primary system. So, we nominate our candidates at an annual convention paid for and attended by party members.
HB 1134 would have required our candidates to gather and submit 4,500 signatures to the state and county election boards prior to being nominated at our convention. Those signatures would then be reviewed, verified or rejected, and possibly challenged by our Democrat and Republican competitors.
“Getting a reasonable amount of petition signatures to appear on a ballot is logical to keep a ballot from being too crowded, but parties that nominate candidates at convention don’t have ballots that could be crowded. So, there is no reason for such signatures. It would be like requiring someone to collect ten signatures before being allowed to enter their local church” said Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News and a nationally recognized ballot access expert.
Rep. Curt Nisly (R), with the full support of the Libertarian Party of Indiana, submitted an amendment to HB 1134. The Nisly amendment would have kept Rep. Manning’s signature requirements, but in exchange it would have granted any party with ballot access an automatic seat on the state and county election boards.
“If we are going to require minor parties, who have achieved ballot access, to submit signatures to election boards prior to nominating their candidates, then they should have a voice on that board,” Nisly said.
HB 1134 would have saddled our candidates with the primary election requirements without the benefit of being in the primary or a voice in the review process. That is neither fair nor equitable.
“The Libertarian party of Indiana is grateful to Rep. Curt Nisly for his tripartisan action and for championing our cause in the legislature. Having the integrity to work with your opposition to ensure that they aren’t being legislatively bullied is a characteristic lacking in many state legislatures across the country” Maguire said.
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