Wednesday, February 13th, the Senate Rules Committee voted 19-0 to pass SB668, Ballot Access Reform, with an amendment which Senator Johnson introduced in the meeting. The amendment grants the Election Board greater authority to answer questions and resolve disputes(pdf) over who is authorized to represent a new party in the state. It reads as follows:
In the event a question or dispute arises as to which person or persons have the authority to act on behalf of a recognized political party, the Secretary of the State Election Board shall have the authority to make such determination based on relevant state statutes, official documents filed with the Secretary of the State Election Board, the party’s by-laws, and, if possible, consultation with the party’s national chair or executive committee.
This amendment seems to be targeted at situations such as this past Presidential Election in which the state chapter of the Americans Elect Party tried to nominate the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. That nomination eventually went to the State Supreme Court which ruled that the state party did not have authorization to nominate a Presidential Candidate because the national party refused to hold a convention. This amendment would seem to allow the Election Board the power to resolve these disputes without going to court.
Unfortunately, this is the only amendment and one that is not really necessary. It would have been preferable to have the bill amended to require a set 5,000 signatures. I have not heard back from Senator Johnson or any other members of the Rules Committee on that matter.