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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Friday, April 17, 2009

Democrats Fail to Keep Mayoral Candidate Off The Ballot

Ballot Access News is reporting that U. S. district Judge Allen Pepper has blocked the Democratic Party in its effort to keep James Lowe off the Democratic primary ballot for mayor of the Washington County city of Leland. The Democrats' motivation is that Lowe had recently been a member of the Republican Municipal Executive Committee.

Pepper said that there is no basis in either state law or Democratic Party rules to deny Lowe a place on the May 5 primary ballot. The Democrats had adopted a rule that anyone who had served on another party's municipal executive committee could not run as a Democrat, but they did not do so until after Lowe had filed for mayor.

It remains to be seen whether the Democrats will appeal to the 5th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Pepper is the same judge who, in June 2007, ruled that Mississippi's primary election law[1] is unconstitutional. He went further and also ordered party registration and voter ID. In May 2008, however, the 5th Circuit dismissed the case on the ground that the Democratic Party had not adopted a bylaw prohibiting non-members from voting in Democratic primaries. Mississippi Democratic Party v. Barbour

Here are Judge Pepper's judgment and his opinion. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the links.

Mississippi could, of course, avoid situations like the one in Leland by changing to the system now used by the big majority of U. S. municipalities: nonpartisan elections ("open primaries"), in which there are no party primaries, and all candidates run in the same election.

Leland is the former home of Jim Henson and is the birthplace of Kermit the Frog ("It's not easy being green!").


[1] The state law mandates that any party holding a primary must permit any registered voter to participate in that primary.


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