Green Party Loses Arizona Ballot Challenge

Arizona’s Green Party lost its constitutional challenge Friday to the state’s180-day signature-gathering deadline to qualify for the primary ballot.

The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal said the Green Party failed to file any supporting evidence that the 180-day requirement significantly burdened its constitutional rights, such as showing that the party struggled to get signatures in the allotted time, or spent lots of money on it.

The party had to show that Arizona’s law creates an “undue burden” by requiring new parties hoping to appear of the ballot to get more than signatures from roughly 23,000 people at least 180 days before the ballot.

Arizona election law gives political parties three options for state recognition: receiving at least 5 percent of the votes cast in the preceding general election, or garnering a threshold number of registered voters or gaining required support by petition.

“The Green Party has not met its burden of showing that Arizona’s 180-day petition-filing deadline significantly burdens constitutional rights, while the Secretary [of State] has demonstrated that the restriction serves Arizona’s important interest in administering orderly elections,” Judge Margaret McKeown wrote for the panel.

The Green Party sought recognition via petition in 2014 because it lost its official status in 2013. It was on notice in November 2013 that it failed to gain 5 percent of the vote and at that point had just three months to gather the signatures to restore its status.

But rather than filing a new party petition, in February 2014 the Green Party filed a lawsuit claiming civil rights violation.

“The Green Party cannot prevail by ‘simply parroting thee language of earlier cases without demonstrating how it actually applies to the challenged scheme,’” wrote McKeown.

McKeown was joined by Judge Michelle Friedland and Judge Joan Lefkow, a visiting judge from Illinois’s Northern District.

Case: Arizona Green Party v. Bennett, No. 14-15976




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