A politically interested friend expresses due alarm at House Bill 1035, one of four bills carrying proposals from the Board of Elections to amend our petition and election statutes.
HB 1035 includes new restrictions on the petition challenge process. I summarized all of the niggly bits in my November summary of the results of the Board’s last meeting. The main provision irking my friend and me is the new set of restrictions on petition challenges. Right now, if the person in charge of an election rejects a petition for a candidate or a ballot measure, the candidate or ballot measure sponsor can file a challenge with that official pointing out errors in the official’s count and arguing that the official should reverse her call and certify the petition. HB 1035 takes away that opportunity. Rejected petitioners would be forced to go directly to court to fight for their place on the ballot.
As I explained in November, taking away that opportunity to challenge a petition rejection is unfair to petitioners. Opponents of a petition can take one free shot at blocking a petition from the ballot at the election office level; Supporters of a petition should get the same opportunity to protect their place on the ballot.
I’d say we could save HB 1035 by amending out this offending challenge restriction, but none of its other provisions—formally restricting grounds for petition challenges, applying new restrictions to paying petitioners to organize new political parties—make it an urgent reform. Let’s just nuke the whole bill and leave petitioners alone on this front.