Third Party & Independents Archives

Nader In Arkansas

In Little Rock Arkansas last Friday, Circuit Judge Timothy Fox listened as two parties argued their cases. The Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against Ralph Nader just days before citing petition fraud on behalf the Populist Party of Arkansas. Today Judge Timothy Fox ordered Nader and Camejo to be stricken from the ballots in Arkansas. The decision was made based on evidence that the Populist Party failed to follow proper Arkansas election procedures. The following is a breakdown of the three hour court case.

In the opening statements, the attorney representing Nader and the Populist Party of Arkansas (also known as the Better Life Party) argued that neither Nader nor Camejo were served properly. The subpoena to appear in court was received by Nader at his home around 11 P.M. the night before the trial. Camejo himself was not served at all but the subpoena was delivered to the campaign headquarters. The attorney claimed the defendants were without due process and requested the case be dismissed or postponed until a time when they could appear in person at their trial. This request was denied.

Argument One: The Populist Party was not qualified to be a party because they received less that 3% of the vote in the 2000 election. The rules governing the legal definitions of a political party make it so that a party must have received at least 3% of the last election vote to be considered legally.

Defense One: The defense claimed that the Populist Party was not by legal standards a party but instead a political group. This determines the type of petition required to support a candidate with. Apparently the party petition has a place for the party name which is not on the group petition. These petitions are lacking candidate verification so that canvassers can collect signatures for a party, not knowing candidate names. The group petition instead has a name for candidates, but no group name. The Secretary of State already ruled that the petitions were compliant with that of the group signature forms.

Argument Two: Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo had accepted the nomination for President in other states by other political parties. Nader and Camejo have accepted the nomination in some states by the Reform Party, and are also running as independents in others.

Defense Two: The rules governing the nomination for President in other parties deal with the state level. A candidate can only run in one party or as independent in a single state. Nowhere does the law say other states must be considered.

Argument Three: The Populist Party did not hold a convention. A convention is required by the election laws in Arkansas. The Democrats did not consider the six person conference call by the Populist Party to be a convention.

Defense Three: There are no laws specifying how a convention must be held, only that a convention has to take place. The Populist Party of Arkansas elected officials according to Robert’s Rules of Order. Under Arkansas code, this is perfectly acceptable.

Argument Four: The Populist Party of Arkansas changed to this name after being called the Better Life Party, and after collecting several hundred signatures. It was argued that this change constituted fraud on the part of the Party. Along with these accusations, it was also argued that the name of the Populist Party was left off the petitions so that the 1988 candidate David Duke would not be associated with this campaign.

Defense Four: This was seen as irrelevant to the court case and all objections were sustained by the judge.

Argument Five: The requirement of 1000 valid signatures in paper form from qualified voters was not met. Even though 1214 signatures were verified by the Secretary of State’s office when Nader was first put on the ballot, 370 challenges were issued on behalf the Democrats due to address problems.

Defense Five: The 1214 signatures were either verified by date of birth or by address. An additional 72 signatures that went uncounted in the original decision brings the count up to 1286. There is no law which states that if an address is omitted or is unverified, that a name must be taken off the petition.

In the closing statements, the defense reiterated their arguments. There is no law requiring group name be on group petition. There is no law which says a candidate cannot be running for more than one party in many different states. There is no law specifying the way a convention must be held. There is no law which says there must be an address on the group form, let alone a valid one. A final request was made to dismiss the case but this was once again denied. The Judge made his final statements and said that the evidence would be considered with a ruling coming no later than Monday, September 20.

The conclusion of this case leaves me in dismay. I believe that there is a lack of evidence which states that the Populist Party broke election laws here in Arkansas. The Secretary of State already verified the signatures and petition forms. How the Democrats can come back and overturn this decision is beyond me. One thing is certain though, the Democrats are sure narrowing down my choices come November. Not only can I not vote for Nader now, but I refuse to vote for such a disgraceful party such as the Democrats. We have entered an era where opponents must be sued off the ballots instead of faced down in debate. It is a dark time if you ask me.

Posted by Adam Ducker at September 20, 2004 8:01 PM