Monthly Archives: August 2016

Hillary’s Nomination Tainted by Enduring DNC Scandal

Last month’s leak of DNC (Democratic National Committee) e-mails resulted in a resignation of DNC chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz and several staffers. That, however, was the extent to which the Democratic party leadership was willing to go. Hillary Clinton was nominated in Philadelphia as planned. Last night Debbie won the primary to hold on to her congressional seat.

Media continually tries to distract viewers from the content of the DNC e-mails by speculating that Russia is behind the leak in an effort to manipulate U.S. elections. Party loyalists have been very active trying to diminish the importance of what was discovered about DNC’s attitude towards Clinton’s rival for the Democratic party nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders.

There is no way even Clinton supporters didn’t feel something (fear perhaps, if not disgust) on discovering through the leaked e-mails that DNC was plotting anti-Sanders narratives to plant them in the media. From Clinton-supporting friends to on-line regulars the dominating reaction was, at first, silence. That is because there is a universal understanding of what a fair contest is, no special course in the U.S. government is needed, and so their initial reaction of silence was the most honest one.

If during a school science fair it would be discovered that a teacher helped one student, but not the others – the student would be disqualified and both would face consequences. No one would be asking for proof of how much the teacher’s involvement changed the outcome.

If it was discovered that a government employee fed information to one of the contestants for a government contract, that employee would lose his/her job and the company competing for the government contract would lose the contest and possibly suffer additional penalties. No one would be asking how much the leaked information helped the contestant.

If in the Miss Galaxy International contest a juror was caught having a relationship with one of the contestants the contestant would be disqualified and the juror would lose his job. No one would be asking if perhaps the contestant would still have won without the compromised juror’s vote.

And so on, and so forth…

Although it is best to ignore obviously disingenuous attacks they give us an opportunity to remind ourselves of how our government works and what our rights are, as citizens and as humans.

DNC is the governing body of the Democratic party ultimately responsible for the primaries, therefore DNC bias compromised the election process and the results should have been voided

After a day or two of complete silence following the release of the damning DNC leaks on July 23rd, the internet started buzzing with various takes diminishing the importance of the discovery.

Here are some of the statements that were circulating:
“The Democratic party has nothing to do with the elections” (sic)
“Only state parties are responsible for elections, not the DNC”
“The party only controls the caucuses and Bernie won those”
“The leak is not a big deal because there is no proof the attitudes and actions of DNC discovered through the leaked e-mails influenced the election results”
“The elections were fair because Hillary Clinton got more votes”

The last comment was shared on Facebook by a friend of mine, a woman with two master’s degrees and 30+ years of professional work experience at high levels of management. This perhaps illustrates that people who author or repeat these statements are not necessarily unaware that it’s complete nonsense. They are just willing to commit murder on logic and morals in order to justify nominating the person they want to see in the White House. “The elections were fair because Hillary Clinton got more votes” is obviously an illogical statement after it was discovered that the integrity of the election process was compromised. We don’t know how many votes Hillary and Bernie would have respectively received if the elections were not compromised. Therefore true results are not known and it follows that the known results are not valid.

What about “the leak is not a big deal because there is no proof the attitudes and actions of DNC discovered through the leaked e-mails influenced the election results?” We don’t need to show that! When the integrity of the election process is compromised, through organizers siding with one of the contestants, it is universally understood as automatically triggering voiding of the results and consequences for all involved! That is the ethical standard governing every kind of contest from school competitions to the Olympics. Perhaps there is some confusion stemming from the fact that no authority has forced the Democratic party to void the results and that they nominated Hillary Clinton a few days after the DNC leak. As if nothing happened, with media silent on the subject, which supports the myth that the primaries are exclusively an internal party matter. The media’s current interest in the integrity of the election process in the context of general elections approaching long after the Democratic party nominee has been chosen seems to suggest media take part in bullying the population into believing that we have no right to demand that the primary elections are as “fair and square” as the general election.

Moving on to the next argument, is DNC really off the hook because “the state parties are responsible for elections?” DNC is, of course, the governing body of the Democratic party. This Daily Kos diary explains well what the DNC is and the process of electing the chairperson. The chairperson of DNC, in particular, is responsible, according to their own bylaws, for making sure party officials nationwide as well as the DNC staffers are neutral. To sum up – DNC is in charge of state parties, including the specific responsibility to maintain their neutrality during the primaries.

What about “the party only controls the caucuses and Bernie won those?” Meaning, I guess, that DNC’s anti-Bernie words discovered through the e-mails leak, didn’t translate into anti-Bernie actions because he overwhelmingly won the caucuses (which the statement’s author incorrectly claims are the only thing DNC has control over, but I will address that later). First of all, Bernie did lose the very crucial caucuses in Iowa and Nevada. Secondly winning a contest doesn’t mean that there was no cheating or at least attempts at cheating by your opponent. It is thankfully very hard for the party to cheat at the caucuses, as once the supporters of a candidate are in a group together, they are a force to reckon with and it is very difficult to conceal any foul play from them. They do the “supporter counts” themselves, they write down the final results and send them over to their candidate’s campaign independently from the party structure.

Yet there were still many “irregularities” reported from the caucuses. Organizers “running out” of registration forms, which eliminated new voters (usually going to Sanders). Bernie supporters were shut out of the caucuses despite being on time versus Hillary supporters being let in even after the registration was finalized. Hillary’s campaign allowed to talk to the undecideds, while Bernie campaign was not. Caucus venues decorated with Hillary campaign gear and caucus attendees being told by those in charge that they must vote for Hillary. People allowed to vote for Hillary without prior registration, people pressured by employers and their union to vote for Hillary and “silent observers” getting involved and campaigning against Sanders. Sanders voters not being able to get a legitimate recount versus Hillary supporters getting unlimited recounts until the desired result, etc., etc. These are some of the complaints I saw on the internet and they might very well be mistakes, exaggerations, lies or even outright attempts by outsiders to stir the pot. However, at the very least, they show there is some room for the Democratic party organizers to influence and manipulate the results of a caucus. DNC leaks confirm that party leadership worked in a variety of ways to the benefit of Hillary Clinton and against Bernie Sanders. This is breaking their own bylaws, so it is not far fetched to believe they also tried (and perhaps succeeded) to influence caucus results in ways not permitted by their own bylaws.

I saved my favorite ridiculous statement for last, “the Democratic party has nothing to do with elections.” First of all, it’s really funny how the same side can make this sweeping statement and at the same time claim that Democratic primaries are the party’s internal election and it’s not anyone’s business how they do things. Democratic party, of course, has a lot of control over the Democratic party primary elections. But it is not just their internal election either and I am devoting an entire chapter to explaining it later on.

But first,

let’s look at the ways the Democratic party controls the primary elections.

One of the most important ways in which the party controls the election is deciding who is a “serious candidate.” Anyone remembers Vermin Supreme or Rocky De La Fuente among the unfamiliar names on the Democratic primary ballot in New Hampshire? The first one is a performance artist, the second, a very successful bilingual (English/Spanish) businessman who is currently the presidential nominee of the Reform party (of Ross Perot fame). Vermin received only 268 votes but Rocky made the ballot in many states and received a total of 67,457 votes which is quite impressive considering he had no help from DNC or the media. Anyone who is at least 35 years old, is a natural born citizen, has lived in the US for at least 14 years, can afford the ballot fees or collect enough signatures can be on the Democratic Party ballot. This article lists the steps to becoming a candidate and this is a full list of 2016 candidates and their share of the popular vote.

Unless a candidate is someone already famous or rich enough to flood the media with paid ads months before the first primary contest, being acknowledged by the Democratic party is crucial to getting national exposure. They have their own internal messaging system through mailers, phone calls and e-mails targeting registered Democrats. They have their state party conventions which took place before the primaries kicked off. They have such events as televised Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinners (dedicated to party founders) during which the candidates have a chance to speak and make their positions known. They organize forums and “town halls” with the candidates. They write open endorsement letters reprinted in the press. They bundle their endorsements maximizing media impact. What they should do is to help voters get acquainted with all the candidates and their platforms. What they do is implement bias from the beginning of the process, by deciding who is “in” and once they are “in” how much exposure and support the party is going to give them.

As far as exposure it is hard to match the importance of the televised debates in the primary process. Perhaps you have heard of Laurence Lessig? He is a professor of law at Harvard University and campaign finance reform activist. He was for a short time a Democratic party presidential candidate but he resigned when he couldn’t get into the Democratic party debates. He wrote an article about it, which is an important insight into how decisive it is to have DNC approval in order to be a successful candidate. He wrote:

“Here’s how you make the debates: After one declares, a candidate is formally welcomed into the race by the Democratic National Committee. Polling firms, taking a cue from the DNC, include that candidate on their questionnaires. Candidates that poll at 1 percent nationally in at least three separate polls earn an invitation. Simple enough.”

But that’s not what happened for Lessig. He was not treated as a serious candidate by the DNC (neither were Rocky De La Fuente or, perhaps understandably, the performance artist Vermin Supreme, and many others). Lessig was not officially welcomed into the race, and that resulted in media excluding him from many polls. Amazingly he still polled well enough to qualify for the second debate on November 14, 2015, which prompted the DNC to change the participation rules thereby excluding Lessig.

Getting into the debates, the number of debates, how they are scheduled – means everything for the lesser known candidates. In addition, Lessig’s story shows us that media were very influenced by DNC in their presentation of the candidates. It mattered when at the New Hampshire convention Clinton got an hour to speak and Lessig only 5 minutes. It mattered when Sanders and O’Malley both got less speaking time than Clinton at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in the same state. BTW, that event was a piece of political theater that belonged more in a totalitarian country than the “free” world. Bernie supporters were as numerous as Hillary’s, but they were positioned behind the cameras and far from the mikes. The area between the cameras and the stage was populated by Hillary supporters. They looked very uninspired during Bernie’s speech. The momentum of the evening was building up for Hillary as if she was a rock star. She spoke last. The lights were dimmed.
When she appeared the whole area between the cameras and the stage erupted with Hillary signs and glow sticks. Her supporters having the benefit of being close to the mike appeared to be a much stronger group. In fact thanks to the positioning of the cameras it looked like she had the support of the entire room. That political theater mattered not only to the candidates’ exposure within the party through people who were watching the live stream, it also mattered to how it was covered by the media. Media “took their cue” from DNC not only on whom to include in the polls, but everything else about the candidates. Every biased decision of the DNC was amplified by the media.

Even if this was the only thing the party did have control over, it could have decided the election. The difference in pledged delegates was small: Clinton won 54% to Sanders 46%. As Carl Beijer has convincingly demonstrated in his blog Sanders preference and favorability among eg. black voters was closely related to name recognition. Cutting down the number of debates from 28 during 2008 election season to 6 in 2016, DNC hurt Sanders’ chances considerably. The leaked e-mails show this was done intentionally.

Continuing the subject of Democratic party control over its primaries: party leadership decides how many delegates constitute the national convention (currently 4,763) and how many each state is sending (both “pledged” and “superdelegates”). They decide whether “pledged” delegates are elected through voting at the polls (regular elections conducted by the states through their boards of elections) or through the caucus process (run exclusively by the party). “Superdelegates,” a group of party’s top current and former elected officials, were introduced in 1984 and it was decided they would form 14% of all convention delegates. Currently, that percentage translates to 715 “superdelegates,” allowed to vote for the candidate of their choice, no matter how strongly their constituents support another candidate. Here is a good article explaining the history of the superdelegates. It is worth noting that during the last month’s Democratic convention in Philadelphia, Sanders delegates asked for abolition of superdelegates and the party agreed to a compromise, in which 2/3 of the superdelegates for the next Democratic convention in 2020 will be bound by results of primaries and caucuses in their states.

Next, the Democratic party leadership decides the rules for the Democratic primaries schedule. For example, since 1980, the first state to hold a primary contest (in the form of a caucus) is Iowa, followed by New Hampshire. Current rules allow for 4 states only to hold primary contests in February. This is a good introduction to the subject.
In addition, the Democratic party working through state legislatures (if they have the majority) decides the date of the state primary, that is which day of the week is the primary election or caucus to take place (making it more or less accessible to voters) and how the contest is positioned within the primary season. Eg. “Dating back to the early 1970s, the idea was that the South would speak with one voice behind a more moderate candidate who would, in their way of thinking, make those southern states blue in the fall general election campaign.” You can read about the development of the practice of “front-loading” the primaries with Southern states (which affected Bernie Sanders candidacy very negatively) here. If a state government decides on a date that the Democratic party doesn’t like, the party can always decide to have a caucus instead. There are trade-offs involved. Caucuses have to be paid for by the Democratic party, but if the party goes with the caucus, then the party is in control of such things as the date of the caucus and who is allowed to participate (just registered Democrats, or also Independents, perhaps even Republicans?). This is a good article explaining differences between primaries and caucuses.

Unlike caucuses, the state-run primaries are not always under the Democratic party control. The rules are set by the state legislature, which can be Democrat or Republican dominated. Things that are decided by state legislature include: who is allowed on the ballot, who is allowed to vote (eg. different rules on felons), whether the primary election is open, closed or semi-open, when are the registration deadlines, what are the party affiliation deadlines, what (if any) documentation one must bring in order to vote, general rules of voting in state (such as whether there is early voting, voting by mail, absentee ballots, the rules governing polling places, rules governing audits). New York is, of course, a “blue state” so suggesting (as many Clinton supporters have done at the time of the NY primary) that the Democratic party has nothing to do with its draconian party affiliation deadline (6 months before the primary election) was ludicrous. Democrats together with Republicans are responsible for shaping voting laws that in practice exclude many voters. Eg. an easy solution to problems with registration deadlines would be implementing automatic voter registration for every citizen on reaching 18 years of age. A good solution in the meantime is allowing same day registration and party affiliation on the election day – something Democrats in many state legislatures are not eager to do despite paying lip-service supporting voting rights for all.

Besides legislatures, election boards have a big hand in shaping the Democratic party primaries (in states where the Democratic party decides not to hold a caucus). There are over 13 thousand election boards across America, including state boards or commissions. They chose the voting system for their jurisdiction, they decide who gets on the ballot, the look of the ballots, the number and location of polling stations, the hours of opening, the method of recruitment and training for poll workers. Election boards are in theory “neutral” but what that really means is that they are composed of (usually) an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, not including representation for the 42% of Americans who do not identify themselves as either.

In addition to that, election board members are nominated by local party structures (of both parties respectively). That means that there is a “chain of command” from DNC down to Democrats on election boards. The Clinton Democrats I spoke with believe that the presence of Democrats on election boards guarantees fair election systems and practices and that the presence of Republicans on election boards precludes any kind of bias against one Democratic candidate over another. However, there are multiple reasons this might not be true. There might be common goals that both sides tacitly agree on, like the exclusion of independents, or not meddling in each other’s primaries, or keeping the ratio of the rich to poor voters where it is, or (real or used as a pretext) budgetary concerns.

Decisions reached by these “neutral” election boards have a potentially enormous influence on the results of the elections. Eg. election boards are responsible for choosing the voting system. Not so long ago all voting was done on paper ballots that were then counted by hand in the presence of representatives of all candidates who were on the ballot. Many countries in the world have kept that old, tried, transparent system. But in the US, one election board after another decided to switch to voting machines. The main types of electronic voting equipment are optical scanners and DRE (Direct Recording Electronic) machines, some of which leave no paper trail. 40+ states use machines over 10 years old. This Ballotpedia page describes different types of equipment and where it is used across the United States.

Probably most concerning are the voting machines that leave no paper trail and therefore are un-auditable. After all, machines can malfunction, yet various election boards in 11 states decided to buy them with total confidence audits will not be necessary! Not to mention the machines are open to foul play as explained in the classic 2006 documentary “Hacking Democracy” linked here. It is very concerning that after it became national news that our elections are not secure, the election boards with old and/or un-auditable equipment did not buy new auditable equipment or simply return to old secure voting methods. This can not be blamed on Republicans! Democrats, under the chain of command leading down from the DNC, are part of the election boards making those decisions across the nation.

Un-auditable voting machines are a huge problem, but at least the optical scanning machines and those DRE machines that leave a paper trail guarantee the integrity of the voting process, right? Not so fast. Look what happened in Chicago during the recent Democratic primary (as described in Counterpunch). A group of citizens decided to audit the official, legally mandated, 5% audit of voting and tabulating machines. They observed various irregularities, the most glaring of which (clip below) was adjusting the paper trail count to the machine results the paper trail was supposed to verify.

The citizens’ group came to the Chicago Board of Election meeting on April 6, 2016, to present their objections to certifying the election results. As you can see in the full video from the meeting (linked in the Counterpunch article) the election board is completely indifferent to the testimonies. They argue with the citizens that they are not qualified to understand what they saw. They argue that the audit was to test the machines, and is not the basis to challenge the elections results, implying that the citizens’ group objections are irrelevant. I encourage everyone to see this “democracy in action” for themselves.

Between the experience of the Chicago citizens group, the experiences of members of the public attending New York state audits or affidavit ballot counts (eg. this post by Lisa Barri) the behavior of the election board employees in the Volusia County, Florida, featured in the 2006 documentary “Hacking Democracy” (linked above, but here it is again) one gets the feeling that although the election boards are supposed to be neutral and work for us they are not always transparent, or careful with the voting records, or ready to take action to address citizens’ concerns about tampering with the results. Another question is whether the random 5% audits even work as an indicator of possible election fraud. We were told during the primaries that since American exit polls are not designed to detect election fraud, and the audits only check if these specific machines work (but not 95% of others) how are we to know when there is tampering with the results? Richard Hayes in the article for Black Box Voting (organization featured in “Hacking Democracy”) suggests targeted audits.

“Generally speaking, election fraud does not occur across the board, by shifting votes from one candidate to another in every ward and precinct.Such alterations would be discovered by any random audit. Rather, alterations to the vote count vary from precinct to precinct and are most apparent at the precinct level. The most anomalous precincts are the ones to be audited. If the ballots match the official count here, in a targeted audit, in suspect precincts specifically chosen for a fraud investigation, it is more convincing than a random audit. But if the ballots do not match the official count, it is prima facie evidence of fraud or egregious error.” – Richard Hayes
The Truth About Exit Polls and Vote Counts

Election boards reducing the number of voting locations, when Bernie was winning in the polls and the state governor was a staunch Clinton supporter (like in case of governor of Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo) could have been perceived as governors’ undue influence on election boards, as was acknowledged by internal DNC e-mails revealed by DNC leaks: “If she (Clinton) outperforms this polling, the Bernie camp will go nuts and allege misconduct,” the DNC staffer wrote. This is because people understand that 1. Boards of elections can manipulate election results by the strategic closing of polling places in areas they estimate are more likely to favor the candidate they want to lose, 2. That although theoretically neutral, boards of election members might have a hard time resisting the influence of a powerful politician such as governor or mayor. Similarly, in Puerto Rico, where governor Alejandro Padilla endorsed Hillary Clinton, the number of polls was reduced from 2,306 open for 2008 primary to 432 during the June 2016 primary. Of course, there is no proof that poll closing was done to hurt Sanders. But Puerto Rico denied Sanders observers entry to prisons (while Clinton observers were let in) and his poll volunteers were being denied certification. It has been raised by Clinton supporters, that the polls were probably just closed for budgetary reasons (Puerto Rico is going through a serious crisis). But, in that case, why was the primary contest not conducted in form of a much cheaper caucus? Indeed, this was the original plan. Puerto Rico then petitioned DNC in the spring of 2015 to have a primary instead and the permission was granted provided Puerto Rico could guarantee a certain number of polling locations, a promise they ended up not keeping. If you want further details – this is an excellent summary of problems with Puerto Rico Democratic primary.

Election boards are also in charge of the ballots and the rules governing their use. During the primaries there were many reports of caucuses and polling places running out (negligence) or “running out”(on purpose) of voter registration forms or ballots, thus reducing the numbers of new voters, who were known to overwhelmingly vote for Sanders. In California, independents were allowed by law to vote in the Democratic primaries but not on the ballot they were mailed. Already in the early voting period. there were reports that less than half of the independent voters (polling overwhelmingly for Sanders) managed to vote. This article provides useful statistics to show the huge effect this had on the results: out of 322 thousand independent early voters almost 200 thousand did not participate in the presidential primary (only voted for local candidates). Confusion also continued during voting in person on election day: apparently poll workers were not trained to give the independent voters the special “cross-over” Democratic ballot, and if the independents voted for a Democratic candidate either on independent or Democratic ballot – their votes were uncounted, which is also the title of the excellent documentary below, based on interviews with California primary elections poll workers.

Unlike the DNC, which showed no interest in informing Americans during the primaries about the voter registration deadlines, Sanders supporters ran a great website called How and when to vote for Bernie and “Sanders for President” subreddit. They not only posted information available on state websites but included deeply researched and detailed info and practical tips. This was obtained by contacting the appropriate authorities and people who have previously taken part in caucuses and primaries in their states. DNC did not show the initiative to inform and engage voters until after the primary was over. At least in my state, New York, the call for Latinos to register to vote, delivered by the actress America Ferrera, appeared in TV ads right after the state primary on April 19th.

Similarly, while hundreds of Sanders grassroots volunteers registered new voters all over the country there seemed to have been no voter registration drives initiated by the DNC, as Shaun King of the New York Daily News noticed in this article. Democratic party poses as the party which supports wide citizen participation in the voting process. Hillary Clinton said in the Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech last month in Philadelphia: “we must nominate Supreme Court Justices that will (…)expand voting rights, not restrict them.” Yet it was very much in the hands of the party to expand voter participation during the primaries, and the party did nothing. This is another way in which the party controlled the primary results, as newly registered and newly affiliated voters overwhelmingly went to Bernie Sanders.

To be continued…

Author: K.S. Locklear
Publisher: Progressive Army
Date: August 31, 2016


Hopeful candidates file for place on November ballot

By Matt Murphy, Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Kym Zwonitzer has filed a petition to run as an independent candidate in Senate District 6, challenging Anthony Bouchard, who won the Republican primary for the seat.

Zwonitzer was the only independent candidate from a Laramie County district to file a petition by the Monday deadline.

The Wyoming Secretary of State’s office must still certify that Zwonitzer has enough registered voters who have signed the petition before she is placed on the ballot.

Zwonitzer is the wife of current Rep. Dave Zwonitzer.

Dave Zwonitzer also ran as a Republican for the Senate District 6 seat, but while he won in Laramie County, he lost the portion of the district that lies in Goshen County, causing him to lose to Bouchard by four votes.

Lindi Kirkbride was the other Republican candidate in that race.

Three other candidates filed petitions to run as independents in the state: Joseph Porambo in House District 58, Sandra Newsome in House District 24 and Cindy Baldwin in Senate District 18.

Three presidential candidates also could be added to the ballot if their petitions are certified to have enough registered voter signatures – 3,302 in all.

Supporters of Dr. Jill Stein, a Green Party candidate, turned in what they said was almost 12,000 signatures.

A press release from the Wyoming Green Party said if Stein is placed on the ballot, it would be the first time a Green Party presidential candidate would appear on the statewide ballot in Wyoming.

Stein would technically be an independent candidate on the ballot, however, as the Green Party does not currently have full ballot access in Wyoming.

Evan McMullin, an independent presidential candidate, may also appear on the ballot.

McMullin is a conservative who is running as an alternative to Donald Trump and is appealing to Republican voters who do not support Trump.

Supporters of his campaign filed their signatures Monday afternoon.

Finally, the campaign of Rocky De La Fuente also filed for him to run as an independent candidate.

De La Fuente sought the Democratic Party’s nomination earlier this year, but did not succeed.

With the petitions filed, the Secretary of State’s office now has to verify at least 3,302 signatures for each petition.

The office will run names through the state’s voter database until it is determined that the number of required signatures has been reached.

“We need to verify they meet the threshold,” said State Election Director Kai Schon.

Once a petition has been certified, the Secretary of State’s office will issue a press release announcing the candidate will appear on the general election ballot.

The office has until Sept. 8 to complete the task.

Author: Matt Murphy
Publisher: Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Date: August 30, 2016


Rocky De La Fuente Wins One Point in South Dakota Ballot Access Lawsuit, But Still Doesn’t Have Enough Valid Signatures

On August 30, U.S. District Court Judge Roberto Lange ruled from the bench in De La Fuente v Krebs, 3:16cv-3035. He said the state cannot invalidate signatures because the signer failed to fill in the “county” blank. The rationale is that no city or town in South Dakota is partly in one county and party in another. Therefore, the Secretary of State can easily know which county the signer lives in, by seeing what town or city the signer shows. The Secretary of State uses random sampling so the validation process is not very difficult for a petition that only requires 2,775 valid signatures.

But Judge Lange upheld another restriction, which is that sheets of signatures are entirely invalid if the Notary Public made a technical error when notarizing that sheet. De La Fuente had argued that notarization is not needed. But in South Dakota, notaries don’t charge to process ballot access petitions, so the judge felt that the notarization requirement is not a severe burden.

De La Fuente doesn’t quite have enough valid signatures, even though he won on the issue of signatures without a county listed. The case remains alive and it is likely De La Fuente will amend his complaint to also attack the South Dakota ban on out-of-state circulators for candidate petitions. It will be difficult for South Dakota to defend that restriction, because South Dakota allows out-of-state circulators to work on a petition to qualify a new party.

Author: Richard Winger
Publisher: Ballot Access News
Date: August 31, 2016


5 independents on TN ballot (4 with party affiliations)

Five people have been approved for listing as Independent candidates for president on Tennessee’s November ballot, including four who are otherwise designated as nominees by national party organizations less known than the Democratic and Republican parties.

Tennessee’s list of presidential candidates was finalized Thursday, according to a spokesman for the state Division of Elections, overseen by Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

Only Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump will be identified by party affiliation on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot under a state law that has been the subject of lawsuits in recent years. But four are campaigning nationally as nominees of third parties. They are:

Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, a wealthy Orlando businessman who is also one of five candidates for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate in Florida’s Aug. 30 primary elections. In the presidential race, he is running as nominee of the Reform Party, founded in 1995 by Texas billionaire Ross Perot, though the party’s website says Perot is no longer active in the group.

Gary Johnson, former Republican governor of New Mexico, who is the Libertarian nominee for president. Nationally, the website RealClear Politics says Johnson is averaging about 9 percent of the vote in polling matchups against Clinton and Trump, the highest polling average for a third-party candidate since Perot ran in 1996 and finished with 19 percent of the vote on election day.

Alyson Kennedy of Chicago, a former coal miner who is running as the Socialist Workers Party candidate.

Jill Stein, a Massachusetts physician who is the Green Party nominee and has gained some national attention — notably by saying earlier in the year that should would abandon her candidacy if Bernie Sanders won the Democratic nomination. Real Clear Politics says she gets about 3.5 percent support nationally on average when included in polls with Clinton, Trump and Johnson.

The fifth independent candidate on Tennessee’s ballot will be Mike Smith, a Colorado Springs, Colo., lawyer specializing in advising small businesses, who is running without any party affiliation. His campaign website says he founded law firms in both Tennessee and Colorado, but does not name them. WVLT, Channel 8, has reported Smith is a graduate of Farragut High School.

Five others filed qualifying petitions with the state Division of Elections but failed to qualify by the deadline by failing to get the required 275 signatures on the petition from registered Tennessee voters. Evan McMullin, a former CIA agent and banker who lives in Washington, got just 129 on his Tennessee petition, according to Politico, which has joined some other national media outlets in reporting on McMullin’s campaign as an anti-Trump conservative.

Others filing petitions in Tennessee but failing to qualify for the ballot were Darrell Castle of Germantown, Tenn.; James Germalie of Parma, Ohio; David Limbaugh of Murfreesboro; Kyle Kopike of Flint, Mich.; and Emidio Soltysik of Los Angeles, according to a list provided by Adam Ghassemi, spokesman for Hargett.

Author: Tom Humphrey
Date: August 29, 2016


Idaho voters to have 8 options for presidential candidates

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho has swung for Republican presidential candidates for more than four decades, but voters will still have plenty of options for those who don’t want to pick either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton come November.

In all, there will be eight candidates seeking the country’s highest political office on the Idaho ballot. Those include Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, known for his advocacy work to legalize marijuana, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein, a medical doctor who ran against Mitt Romney in the 2002 race for governor of Massachusetts.

Darrell Castle is the national Constitution Party’s nominee, but he’ll appear as an independent on the Idaho ballot. This year, Idaho’s small Constitution Party selected Rev. Scott Copeland of Texas to be their nominee in this year’s first-ever Constitution Party presidential primary for Idaho.

Author: KIMBERLEE KRUESI Associated Press
Publisher: The Herald Dispatch
Date: August 26, 2016


Wisconsin Elections Commission approves November ballot

The state Elections Commission has finalized the list of candidates who will appear on ballots in Wisconsin this November. Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a motion to have the ballot appear as agency staff recommended.

The move means Wisconsin voters will have seven names to choose from in the presidential race – Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, along with Libertarian Gary Johnson, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Darrell Castle with the Constitution Party, Monica Moorehead with the Workers World Party and Rocky Roque De La Fuente of the American Delta Party.

The election is Tuesday, November 8th.



Wisconsin Elections Commission approves presidential ballot

MADISON — Wisconsin election officials have approved placing five candidates on the state’s presidential ballot besides Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

The state Elections Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to place the Constitution Party’s Darrell Castle, Libertarian Gary Johnson, the Wisconsin Green Party’s Jill Stein, Monica Moorehead of the Workers World Party and Rocky Roque De La Fuente of the American Delta Party on the ballot.

Commission staff wrote in a memo to members that all five candidates as well as Trump and Clinton have met the standards to be on the ballot.

The most recent Marquette University Law School poll released on Aug. 10 showed Clinton leading Trump by 15 points among likely Wisconsin voters.



Eye on Boise: Idaho presidential ballot to offer eight choices

Idaho’s presidential ballot for November has ballooned to eight candidates, as three independents turned in enough signatures just in time to qualify for the ballot.

The three who qualified late last week were Jill Stein, who’s the Green Party nominee; Darrell Castle, who’s the national Constitution Party nominee; and David Evan McMullin, a Republican and former House GOP aide who launched a last-minute campaign to oppose Donald Trump.

Another independent, Rocky De La Fuente, already had qualified. So that brings the number of candidates who will appear on Idaho’s presidential ballot in November to eight, the highest number in decades. The candidates on Idaho’s ballot:

Trump, Republican; Hillary Clinton, Democrat; Gary Johnson, Libertarian; Scott Copeland, Idaho Constitution Party; and the four independents – Stein, Castle, De La Fuente and McMullin.

Here are the tallies of valid Idaho voter signatures the independents turned in to qualify for the ballot, according to the Idaho secretary of state’s office; each needed 1,000: McMullin, 1,168; Stein, 1,292; De La Fuente, 1,034; and Castle, 1,152.

Polar opposites?
Idaho and Washington may share a border, but according to the latest presidential election forecast on the FiveThirtyEight blog, they’re polar opposites: In Washington, the blog gives Clinton a 96 percent chance of winning the state; in Idaho, it’s Trump by that same 96 percent.

2018 contest already brewing
Former state Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, has announced that he’s running for governor in 2018, going up against Lt. Gov. Brad Little in the GOP primary in a bid to succeed Gov. Butch Otter. Fulcher unsuccessfully challenged Otter in the GOP primary in 2014, and took 43.6 percent of the vote to Otter’s 51.4 percent.

A tea party favorite, Fulcher ran against Otter from the right; he was endorsed by current 1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador, who campaigned with him. Fulcher is in the commercial real estate business and is a former Micron executive. A Meridian native, he holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business from Boise State University.

Little announced in late June that he’s in for the 2018 contest.

Consumer complaints draw restitution
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden reports that his Consumer Protection Division recovered more than $2.96 million in restitution for Idaho consumers in fiscal year 2016, nearly four times the division’s budget. The division received 791 complaints, mediated 603, recorded 12,861 consumer-related contacts and completed 22 enforcement actions. Wasden said this is the 24th consecutive year that the division has recovered more for Idahoans than the Legislature appropriated to run the division.

“Idaho’s consumer laws protect consumers, businesses and the marketplace from unfair or deceptive acts and practices, as well as unreasonable restraints of trade,” Wasden said in a letter to Idahoans that opens the annual Consumer Protection Division report. “My office seeks to fulfill this charge efficiently and economically through consumer education, mediation of consumer complaints, and where appropriate, enforcement actions.”

Complaints about motor vehicles were the most common topic in the 791 consumer complaints the division received over the course of the year. Also ranking high were complaints about health care, landlord-tenant issues, loans and mortgage lenders, and construction contractors. The number of complaints was down from 829 the previous year.

Shift led to tax increase
A new analysis by Idaho Education News shows the 2006 tax shift engineered in a one-day special session by then-Gov. Jim Risch – cutting property taxes that previously funded schools, while raising the sales tax from 5 to 6 percent – has actually resulted in a tax increase 10 years later. Idahoans paid out $324.8 million in voter-approved supplemental property tax levies and increased sales taxes in 2015-16, while reaping property tax relief worth $303.1 million. The net effect: A tax increase of $21.7 million.

The EdNews analysis also found that as a whole, Idaho schools are collecting more tax dollars than they would have received under the pre-2006 tax structure, but there are winners and losers. The losers: 18 of Idaho’s 115 school districts are collecting fewer state and local dollars than they did a decade ago, when the Risch tax shift became law. The winners: 26 school districts are actually collecting more local property taxes now than a decade ago, thanks to voter-approved levies.

More cabin sites auctioned
Idaho’s state Department of Lands has auctioned off 30 state-owned cabin sites at Payette Lake for a total of $12.6 million, bringing the total auctioned so far to 258 cabin sites, 141 of those at Priest Lake and 117 at Payette Lake. Twenty-five of the sites in the latest Payette Lake auction already were leased to people who owned cabins on them; all but two of those sold for the appraised value to the current lessee. The other two saw competitive bidding, and one went for $27,500 above its $74,000 appraised value; the other went for $14,000 above its $77,000 appraised value, and both went to competitors who were bidding against the current lessees. The successful bidders will have to pay the cabin owners appraised value for their improvements.

Five of the sites auctioned Aug. 19 weren’t leased to anyone; three of those saw competitive bidding.

The auction was part of the state’s ongoing effort to phase itself out of the business of renting state-owned cabin sites on which private owners build and own cabins; that’s led to numerous lawsuits and fights over the years about what constitutes fair rent for the underlying ground.


Reporter Betsy Z. Russell writes the Eye on Boise column for the Sunday edition of The Spokesman-Review. She also reports Idaho news updates on the Eye on Boise blog at www.spokesman. com/boise. Russell can be reached at or (208) 336-2854.

Beyond Trump and Clinton

Beyond Trump and Clinton

Utah residents who are unenamoured with presidential candidates Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will have plenty of options to pick someone else on Election Day.

Aside from the two major party candidates, at least a dozen other names will show up on Utah ballots this Nov. 8, according to candidate information posted by the state elections office.

Normally a shoo-in for Republican candidates, Utah has seen more attention as a potential swing state this year after early summer polls showed Clinton and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson running close behind Trump.

More recent polling has shown Trump increasing his lead, including a 15-point advantage in a Public Policy Polling release from last week, but his 39-percent figure in that poll shows significant change for a state that gave Republican Mitt Romney 73 percent of the vote four years ago.

Despite a majority of state political leaders saying they’ll back Trump in order to avoid Clinton, the GOP candidate’s relative lack of popularity has third party and independents hopeful.

The same thinking has Democrats feeling optimistic as well.

Zachary Almaguer, chair of the Washington County Democratic Party, said he expects some Republican voters to shy away from Trump, potentially making people consider choices down-ballot that they haven’t traditionally.

In Washington County, nearly half of 2014’s voters (46 percent) voted straight-party ticket, and there were more Republican straight-ticket votes (10,667) than the total number of votes any Democratic candidates were able to garner, according to county election records.

Democrats still face an uphill battle, especially in southwest Utah, but the dynamics of this race, especially with so many third-party and independent candidates available, are very different, Almaguer said.


“I see that as an advantage because that only means more options not to vote for Donald Trump,” he said.

At the same time, Clinton remains deeply unpopular as well, and the Public Policy Polling figures from last week showed her at only 24 percent.

State Republican leaders have been urging voters to get behind Trump, if only to deny Clinton.

Attorney General Sean Reyes, himself facing a reelection challenge from Democrat Jon Harper and Libertarian Andrew McCullough, has been adamantly campaigning for Trump because he says it could prevent a more liberal-minded Supreme Court.

“I get that he’s not the perfect candidate, but you have to ask yourself, in terms of the Supreme Court, in terms of other things that are important to you as a conservative, can you really stomach a Hillary Clinton administration?” Reyes said.

The unpopularity of the two major party candidates also has election officials wondering if voters might stay away from the ballot booth altogether, which could be troubling given Utah’s recent history.

Voter participation has trended downward since the 1970s throughout much of the country, but especially in Utah, which ranked in the nation’s top 10 for turnout as late as the 1980s but now typically ranks near the bottom.

Utah is rarely a swing state, and political observers say the heavy Republican advantage makes some voters feel as if their votes won’t affect the outcome. In addition, Utah is the nation’s youngest state, with a median age of just 29, and younger people tend to vote less than older generations.

However, research indicates that Utah doesn’t fare well even compared to states that face similar demographic challenges.

The state finished second-to-last by number of residents who registered to vote in 2012, and finished third-to-last in voter turnout in 2010. Only Idaho voters contribute less money to political campaigns, per capita.

Follow David DeMille on Twitter, @SpectrumDeMille, and on Facebook at Call him at 435-674-6261.

Third parties and independents

Utah voters will have at least a dozen presidential candidates to choose from besides Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton this November. An Associated Press compiling of the candidates who have filed so far shows some of the alternatives:


A businessman who served two terms as the Republican governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson is the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president and may be best known for his years-long advocacy to legalize marijuana. He was the Libertarian Party’s nominee in 2012. His campaign is based in Salt Lake City.



Evan McMullin of Provo is a former congressional staffer and CIA officer who recently jumped into the race as an unaffiliated candidate. He’s only on the ballot in Utah and a few other states but says he’s a conservative who offers an alternative to disaffected voters who don’t want to back Clinton or Trump.



Darrell Castle is a Tennessee attorney who represents the conservative Constitution Party. His anti-abortion stance calls on Congress to remove the Supreme Court’s ability to rule on abortion cases and for the U.S. to withdraw from the United Nations.



A Wal-Mart employee from Chicago, Alyson Kennedy is a candidate for the Socialist Workers Party and advocates for a $15 an hour minimum wage. Kennedy is a former coal miner who lived in Utah for four years and joined a protest this year in the state against the fatal shooting by Oregon state police of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, an Arizona rancher involved in the armed standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge.



Jill Stein is the Green Party nominee, a role she also held in 2012. Stein is a medical doctor who ran against Mitt Romney in the 2002 race for governor of Massachusetts. Stein is calling for efforts to stop climate change, hydraulic fracturing, offshore drilling and uranium mining. She also wants forgiveness of student debt.



Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, a real estate developer, is an unaffiliated candidate on Utah’s ballot. In other states, he’s running for president with the American Delta Party and the Reform Party.

He wants all U.S. students to have access to free, online college education.

In Florida, he’s one of five candidates vying to become the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate.



Monica Moorehead of New York is the Workers World Party candidate for president. She is the managing editor of the left-leaning newspaper Workers World and was also the party’s candidate in 2000 and 1996. Moorhead’s campaign platform calls for the end of capitalism, a stop to deportations of those in the country illegally and affordable housing.



So far, five people have filed as write-in candidates in Utah: Stephen Paul Parks, Emidio Soltysik, Jamin Burton, Cherunda Fox and Laurence Kotlikoff. Write-in candidates have until Sept. 9 to file their declaration.

Source: /

Author: David DeMille,
Publisher: The Associated Press
Date: August 27th, 2016

The Reform Partys History of Minority Candidates

For Immediate Release – In recent years, the Reform Party has worked to representing minorities by running minority candidates. Over the past years, with the support of minorities waning within the Republican Party, the Reform Party has made moves to capture disenfranchised minority voters. This is best illustrated by the current and past Presidential candidates of the Reform Party.

Andre Barnett was an African-American small business owner, and wounded veteran. During the 2012 Presidential campaign, he was endorsed by the Fredrick Douglass Foundation – a group that furthers the goals of black conservatives. As the party’s standard bearer, he worked to bring the Reform Party message to minority communities.

The Reform Party’s current Presidential candidate is Roque De La Fuente. De La Fuente is a Hispanic business owner with ties to minority communities across the country, and international business ties to Central and South America. During his campaign, he has been interviewed by numerous Spanish language media outlets, and built inroads for the party in Hispanic community.

The Reform Party has had a rich history with minority membership and advocacy. In 2004, the Reform Party’s Presidential Candidate, Ralph Nader, met with the Congressional Black Caucus. One of Ralph Nader’s running mates was American Indian Winona LaDuke. In 2000, Pat Buchanan’s running mate was Ezola Foster, a conservative African American woman.

It is possible to learn more about the Reform Party at or to email a representative at


This press release is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Read full copyright information here.