Feb 25 2012

California Senate Elections Committee Amends Bill on Party Officer Elections to Respect Wishes of Minor Parties

Source: Ballot Access News

On February 21, the California Senate Elections Committee passed AB 1200, a bill to revise the California law on how parties elect county central committees. California has five ballot-qualified parties other than the Democratic and Republican Parties. The Libertarian Party, and Americans Elect, have chosen not to have party officers elected in public primary elections. However, the American Independent, Green, and Peace & Freedom Parties do prefer to have party officials chosen at their own primary elections.

The Elections Committee passed the bill, but first amended it to reflect the desires of the three minor parties that had concerns. The American Independent Party state chair, Mark Seidenberg, testified in favor of one amendment, and his wishes were respected. Peace & Freedom Party leaders also attended the hearing and the Committee amended the bill in accordance with their testimony. The Green Party did not send a representative, but had communicated with the committee.

The amendment concerning the American Independent Party acknowledges that elected members of the party’s county central committees may choose whether to be sworn in either by government officials, or by county chairs of the party. If the bill had not been amended, the committee members would have been sworn in only by county chairs of the party (or the designee of a county chair).

The amendment desired by the Peace & Freedom Party, and the Green Party, preserves the ability of people to be write-in candidates for County Central Committee. The original bill would have eliminated the write-in option except in cases when more people had filed to be on the ballot for a particular county central committee race than there are vacancies. The reason write-ins are important in County Central Committee races is that existing law won’t permit certain people to appear on the primary ballot if they had been members of another party during the preceding period, but such people can be write-in candidates.

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