S o S

March 9, 2010

I have been asked to comment on efforts that are under way in several states to draft and enact into law new election statutes that would require candidates for President whose names appear on the ballot to undergo eligibility screening intended to establish whether these candidates satisfy the Constitutional eligibility for the job.  Here’s what I have to say about this.

Why bother?

The Secretary of State, who in most states is given the statutory job of overseeing elections; also has statutory authority to promulgate the rules and regulations required to carry out the job.  So, in those states that require the candidate whose name appears on the ballot, to be eligible for the job – AL,* GA, HI, MD, SC, TX, and VA have been identified so far – the SoS just needs to exercise the rule-making authority of that office to write new eligibility rules.  And these rules can be amended as time and technology require.  (I would imagine, it would be much easier to persuade a SoS to tighten up procedural requirements to get a name on the ballot than to lobby the legislature (and governor) to pass a brand new law.)

In states without such ballot eligibility laws, these laws need to be enacted.  (In some states, this also requires either amending existing laws that currently entitle the nominee for President from the major political parties to appear on the ballot; or drafting the new law to incorporate such existing entitlements.  Still, I would imagine it would be much easier to pass legislation requiring simply that, only the names of eligible candidates may be printed on the state election ballot AND to amend existing laws that apply to major political parties; than to labor on persuading legislators to adopt both the principle of candidate eligibility to appear on the ballot AND the detailed methodology drafters are attempting to construct so as to ensure such eligibility.)

* AL has been identified as an applicable state for citizen complaints of election fraud but, no Alabamans have volunteered to help me obtain the final piece of information required to draft a complaint.  (I only read the AL law when a non-Alabaman happened to look up the law in that state, for a ‘friend,’ and forwarded this to me for review.)

P.S. For those of you who are going about this the hard way; please keep in mind that targeting BO for coverage under any new regime can trigger challenges on the grounds, the new law constitutes a Constitutionally prohibited bill of attainder.  (This is the principle that sunk Congress’ attempt to de-fund ACORN, cited by the federal court in granting ACORN’s motion for a preliminary injunction.)  See this comment posted here back in January, and my response.

This should be some good news. A story from Arizona says a legislator wants to require proof of citizenship to put Obama’s name on the ballot in 2012.

“If President Obama wants to run for re-election he would need to produce proof of both his U.S. birth and citizenship to get on the ballot in Arizona, if one state lawmaker gets her way.

Rep. Judy Burges, R-Skull Valley, is preparing a law to require anyone running for president or vice president to provide proof to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office that they are legally eligible to seek the office. The U.S. Constitution requires the president — and, by extension, the vice president — to be “a natural born citizen.”

Burges would require the secretary of state to verify that status independently.

“If it’s not certifiable, then that person’s name would not go on the ballot,” she said.


ksdb: Not so fast. I read the article you linked. Of course, I agree in principle with amending the requirements the candidates must meet before states agree to print their names on state ballots. This is what I have advocated all along. However, for several reasons, this proposed legislation is not what I had in mind.

For starters, notwithstanding her protestations to the contrary, Representative Burges sounds like she is proposing this legislation specifically to ‘get’ BO. That will kill the bill on challenge, for sure. http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2009/12/acorn_funding_cut-off_was_unco.html ADMINISTRATOR

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