Several questions arose in response to my story regarding Indiana ballot access laws, my attempts to get a third-party candidate on the ballot and the Election Board’s failure to count legally cast votes.

Appeal to the Indiana Civil Liberties Union

The St Joe Valley Green Party did contact the Indiana Civil Liberties Union requesting assistance in challenging the St Joe County Election board.  This could have also lead to a larger challenge to restrictive state ballot access laws and other counties’ failures to report write-in votes.  In response to this request for help, however, the ICLU sent a form letter informing us they could not offer assistance and recommended we seek private counsel.  No explanation was given for why assistance could not be given.

Getting on the Ballot without “Ballot Access”

 I ran for a seat on the South Bend Common Council as a Green Party candidate in the 2007 election.  Because the Green Party does not have “ballot access” in Indiana, for my name to appear on the ballot, we needed to submit signatures from registered voters.  These signatures then had to be certified by the Voter Registration office.  Once again, about half of the signatures we gathered were thrown out, however we were able to submit enough to have my name appear on the ballot as a Green Party candidate.

The kicker is, if I had won the seat on the Common Council and wanted to run again as a Green Party candidate the following election, we would be required once again to gather and submit certified signatures of registered voters for my name to be on the ballot to be re-elected.  That is just one of the ways in which ballot access laws are stacked against third parties in Indiana.

 Time Frame for Gathering Signatures 

I worked for over a year gathering signatures.  To gain ballot access in Indiana, a party must run a candidate for Secretary of State.  For that candidate’s name to appear on the ballot, the state’s newly enacted formula requires a little over 30,000 certified signatures be submitted.  (The threshold was lower prior to the Libertarian Party’s successful bid to gain ballot access in Indiana.  Once the Libertarian Party gained ballot access, the number of signatures required increased AND the deadline for submitting those signatures was moved up several months to June 30th.  This is critical because it eliminates opportunities for signature-gatherers to work at typical large-crowd summer events such as the state and county fairs, park festivals and, of course, 4th of July parades). 

Our candidate, Bill Stant, and the Indiana Green Party recognized the monumental task it would be to get his name on the ballot, which is why we began early.  At one point we worried if Voter Registration offices would reject signatures gathered on older CAN-19 forms (the official petition form to get a candidate on the ballot), but the state ruled we could submit both versions of the forms.

End-Goal for Running a Candidate for Secretary of State

The purpose for all this work was not necessarily for Bill Stant to be Indiana Secretary of State (although he certainly had the qualifications and would have served that office admirably).  The higher goal was for the Indiana Green Party to gain state-wide ballot access. According to Indiana statute, if a party’s candidate for Secretary of State receives 2% of the vote in an election, that party gains ballot access for every elected office in Indiana in the following election.   That would have meant Greens could appear on the ballot for any office without expending precious time and resources gathering signatures.

Ramifications of Vote-count Failure in 2006

The failure of St Joe and several other counties’ Election Boards to count and submit official vote tallies for Bill Stant in 2006:

1) disenfranchised and silenced the voices of untold hundreds of voters,

2) may have denied the Green Party’s rightful place on the ballot for subsequent elections and

3) at a minimum, denied the Green Party information on its baseline of support in Indiana.