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Maine Libertarian Party Files Suit Seeking Recognized Party Status, Ballot Access

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Author: Ben Swann
Created: 07 January, 2016
Updated: 16 October, 2022
3 min read

The Libertarian Party of Maine filed a federal lawsuit on January 4 seeking official recognition as a party on Maine’s election ballots.

Truth in Media previously reported that Maine Sec. of State Matthew Dunlap had rejected the party’s request for official party status on Dec. 9 despite the fact that the party had submitted 6,482 registration cards to prove that it had over 5,000 members as of Dec. 1 as required by state law. Independent parties in Maine must prove their level of membership by Dec. 1 of the year prior to an election.

Officials in Maine only certified 4,489 of those registration cards, leaving the Libertarian Party just shy of the required 5,000 mark.

According to a copy of the complaint obtained by Ballot Access News, Libertarian Party of Maine v. Dunlap names Sec. of State Dunlap, Deputy Sec. of State Julie Flynn, Division of Elections Assistant Director Tracy Willett, and the Maine Department of the Secretary of State as defendants.

The complaint states:

With the sole exception of the office of President of the United States, the primary election is the exclusive gateway to participation in Maine’s general election for all political parties and their candidates, major and minor alike. Unlike other states around the nation, Maine does not allow minor political parties to nominate candidates for federal, state or local office by holding a party convention. Unsurprisingly, no minor party candidate for the U.S. House or Senate has gained access to the general election ballot in Maine during the past ninety (90) years.

It added, “On or about December 8, 2015, at a meeting with Deputy Flynn and her assistant, Melissa Packard, at the Department’s offices in Augusta, Plaintiff Maderal was told that the unofficial ‘verified’ number of Maine voters enrolled in the Libertarian Party according to the Department’s records was only 4489, falling below the 5000 threshold for qualification under 21-A M.R.S.A. § 303… The unofficial ‘verified’ number of enrollments verbally reported to Maderal on December 8th raised numerous discrepancies and concerns, when compared with the number of voter registration and enrollment forms submitted to the Department and all the various town and cities prior to December 1st (totaling 6,482). Of particular concern was what appeared to be an unusually high rejection/failure rate for the enrollments (amounting to some 31% of all enrollments submitted), and LPME’s inability to verify whether the towns and cities actually received and processed all the forms submitted to them and to the Department.”

The complaint argues that the Dec. 1 deadline for proving party status “unnecessary burdens on Plaintiffs’ rights to express themselves, to associate politically, and to cast their votes effectively, among others, which rights are guaranteed to them under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”

The Libertarian Party of Maine maintains that Sec. of State Dunlap’s decision prevents the party’s candidates from obtaining ballot access and disenfranchises the party’s voters. Party officials also argued that Dunlap’s ruling effectively nullifies thousands of the party’s membership applications.

Editor's note: This article, written by Barry Donegan, originally published on Truth in Media, and may have been modified slightly for publication. 

Photo Credit: Joseph Sohm / shutterstock.com

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