Ballot Access in Arizona

Arizona toughened its ballot access laws after Steve Davis, a Republican Congressman, switched to the Libertarian Party in the mid-1970s, ran for Congress as an independent, and came in a close second in a three-way race.

The state totally rewrote its election code, adopting a completely new Title 16 in the late 1970s.

Among the new code's provisions were minutely detailed specifications of a political party's internal structure, such as who could vote for party officers, when, where and how meetings were to be held, and so forth.

Ernest Hancock mounted a legal challenge to the new code in 1991. He ran for office as an independent in 1990 in order to gain standing to file the lawsuit, and filed the federal lawsuit Hancock v. Symington, et al. on July 3, 1991.

Hancock's challenge was based on Supreme Court case law, the State Constitution, and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution supporting the claim that the State has no authority determining the internal structure of a political party. Legal cases involved include Norman v. Reed, Tashijan v. Republican Party of Connecticut and Eu v. Democratic Party of San Francisco.

The lawsuit succeeded in changing Arizona law, particularly gaining a statement by the Arizona Attorney General that the State cannot determine internal party structure.

Source: May 12, 1995, posting to Libernet by Ernest Hancock.