Mitt Romney Might Not Be On the Washington State Ballot In November

Due to technicalities in Washington State law, American’s most famous Mormon, Mitt Romney, may not be on the ballot in the state come November because the Republican Party doesn’t currently qualify as a “major party” any more. The Stranger laid out the details earlier this month:

RCW 29A.04.086 tells us that “”Major political party” means a political party of which at least one nominee for president, vice president, United States senator, or a statewide office received at least five percent of the total vote cast at the last preceding state general election in an even-numbered year.”

In 2010, the only state-wide race was a race for U.S. Senate.

The Republican Party did not nominate any candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010 because neither the Rossi contingent nor the Didier contingent wanted to risk losing a nomination vote at the 2010 state convention of the Republican Party.

Because the “Top-2″ primary is only a winnowing primary – not a nominating primary – Mr. Rossi, who proceeded through the Top-2, was not the Republican Party nominee.

Because the two Republicans running for the US Senate seat in 2010 weren’t officially nominated by the Republican Party, that means the Republican Party didn’t get at least 5% of the vote in a statewide election. And that, in turn, means Romney would have had to file as a minor party candidate (requiring his campaign to collect at least a thousand voter signatures at a nominating convention taking place after the first Saturday of June and the last Saturday of July.) And, it seems, Romney’s campaign did not do that.

Back when The Stranger first reported on this, no one expected that Washington’s Secretary of State would actually leave Romney’s name off of the ballot because of this technicality. But now it seems the Libertarian Party is suing (PDF) to keep Romney’s name off:

The suit seeks an order declaring that the Washington State Republican Party is “minor party” for purposes of the 2012 general election and directing the Secretary of State to issue ballots for the November election that do not contain the printed name of any Republican Party nominee.

It’s possible the Libertarian Party is just making a show of things to make Republicans sweat. But if they’re serious and if a judge rules to the letter of the law, Romney won’t be on the ballot. I have a hard time believing they wouldn’t find some sort of work-around to avoid that happening but it will be very interesting to watch over the coming months.

***Update*** (8/23/12): A Thurston County Superior Court threw out the lawsuit submitted by the Libertarian party. It’s not yet clear if they’ll appeal.

About Ericka M. Johnson

As a lover of science and reason, Ericka M. Johnson has an affinity for evolutionary biology and is the president of Seattle Atheists. She revels in any opportunity for a thoughtful debate on the meaning of life, the universe, and everything (especially over a pint.) Follow her on twitter @ErickaMJohnson

  • http://www.bricewgilbert.blogspot.com Brice Gilbert

    Luckily for Romney he probably wouldn’t win in Washington anyways.

    • ErickaMJohnson

      It’s a pretty safe bet that Romney wouldn’t win in WA. But it looks bad for his campaign.  Also, it would be interesting to see how him not being on the ballot would affect other items, like Referendum 74.

      • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ trivialknot

        Looks bad for Romney?  Are you kidding?  It would be easy for the Romney campaign to frame this as his opponents exploiting legal loopholes instead of facing him fairly at the ballot box.

        • ErickaMJohnson

          It would not be easy to spin this. The Secretary of State is a Republican and it’s the Libertarians that are pushing the issue.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Hall/683151978 John Hall

            If Fox and the Republican party have shown anything in the last dozen years, they can spin anything.

            “It’s part of Obama’s Kenyan plan. He infiltrated the Libertarian party to attack Poor Mitt Romney! Then he used YOUR tax dollars to pay off that RINO secretary of state!!!”

            I can see Romney saying that now.

            Obama needs to step up and demand Romney being on the ballet. That would make him look good to the independents imo.

          • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ trivialknot

             The public mind does not care for details.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I have a hard time believing they wouldn’t find some sort of work-around to avoid that happening

    You can bet if it were any other party, they wouldn’t bend the rules.  But you’re right.  In this case, they will.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anne-Murphy/1408010278 Anne Murphy

    It looks like this would affect much more than the race for president.  Interesting…

    • Coyotenose

       I’m a pretty strong liberal, but have been registered as a Libertarian for eight years. THIS is why. Their end game is psychotic, but they’re the only ones with a shot at cleaning up garbage laws. The Libertarian Party in North Carolina has to spend its energy just getting on the ballot, and has little left for campaigning after that, thanks to unjust laws that let the big two players keep things nice and simple for themselves.

      It amuses me greatly when some neocon moron proclaims that he supports the Libertarians or that he considers himself one, and I reply, “Well, I’m a flaming liberal who has made sure to increase the number of registered Libertarians in the state, has donated to them, and has promoted their events. But it sure is nice that you ‘consider’ yourself one of us. Maybe you’ll have some conviction one day, enough to actively support even people you dislike when they’re in the right instead of crying that you know what they’re ‘really thinking’.”

  • Kim

    There is so much election fraud it boggles the mind.

    • http://twitter.com/gingerjet gingerjet

      And what proof do you have of this?

      • 3lemenope

        She feels it in her gut. What more proof could you possibly need?

        • dcl3500

          Oh I just have to, god told her! LOL

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Hall/683151978 John Hall

            And not just any god, Mormon God, superhero of all gods, told her!

    • Baby_Raptor

      1) Where is your proof for this statement?

      2) How is this fraud? It’s based off a law that anyone with more than one brain cell can see is actually a law. 

      3) Turn off Faux. They lie to you. It’s bad.

      • Marcodbeast

        In all fairness, republicans plan well over a million cases of voter disenfranchisement fraud.

  • http://javver.com/ JC

    Didn’t they get the missing signatures tomorrow retroactively in June?

  • avalpert

    What’s good for the goose – Romney wasn’t exactly urging accommodation to his fellow Republican primary candidates in Virginia and other areas where they had trouble getting on the ballot.

  • Aaron Scoggin

    I’m a Libertarian, and I approve this message.

    No, seriously, bravo. If they want to vote for him, the can just write his name in.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Ah, but… In California, since we passed our own ‘top 2′ election reform, write-in have not been counted!  Now, the rules are a bit different for the presidential election, and there will be more than two on the ballot for that race, but whether they’ll count write-ins I’m not sure.  (And of course,  I don’t know about WA, just CA).

      (Yes, CA ballots had a write-in spot, but they were not counted.  Your democracy in action folks!)

      • https://sites.google.com/site/ferulebezelssite/ Ferule Bezel

         In all fairness they are only counted when there is a mathematical possibility for them to change the results, just like provisional votes.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          No.  In the past all votes were counted.  It’s about more than just trying to make sure you have the winner, it’s about determining the proper representation.  Or at least it used to be.

          It’s already incredibly difficult for a 3rd party to ‘break in’ to the system.  What they have done is make it more difficult still.  If a write-in did reasonably well in one election, then in the next more people might think they’re not a throw away vote, and build support.  If nobody knows how many votes they got, that will never happen.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/ferulebezelssite/ Ferule Bezel

            That’s not what I was told in my poll worker training.  Of course this was some time ago and in CA.   Things may have changed.

            The unfortunate truth is that a plurality winner system is going to lead to two dominant parties with only the occasional outsider winning.  There are other voting systems that address this but, as Kennneth Arrow showed, they have other downsides.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              I’m also talking about CA, but now trying to back up my statement, you may be right.  There are a few lawsuits against CA’s ‘top two’ and I’m involved in one of them.  I’ll try to get a clarification on the details.

              True there are problems with a plurality winner, but even so other countries manage to have a robust multi party system.    In other parliaments there’s greater value to having a seat, even if a small minority.  I suppose that could be true in the US for the House, but our president is all-or-nothing.  I think as much as anything it’s the American mindset that there are only two parties. Even with real reforms, I wonder how long it would take for people to support anything other than ‘the two’.  My grandparents were lifelong ardent Republicans, but talking to them, they were really much more libertarian in ideology.

              • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                Bit of an update: I’ve been told that in CA they ‘used to’ (not sure when) count all the ballots, including write-ins.  I suspect that could vary by precinct though.

                However, if it was clear that the write-ins would not affect the outcome, then they were not required to.The important part though is that with the passage of SB6, they banned the counting of write-ins.  That is, the primary is the time to get on the ballot, by write-in if necessary.  They still had the write-in spot on the ballot though, but I think this was an oversight.They have since fixed the problem by removing the write-in spot for the Nov election.  There will be a write-in spot for POTUS, and local things like I think judges, but not for other races.  At least, that’s the current understanding of the situation.  Time still remains, but I don’t see anything changing until at least after the election.   

      • http://www.adrenaldesign.com/ Joby Elliott

        That’s because if they only get 10,000 write-ins and then the winner leads by 50,000 votes they don’t NEED to count the write-ins. They’ll go back and count them later if they need to, but don’t off the bat because they’re much more time-consuming to count.

  • machintelligence

    The Republican party came close to losing major party status here in Colorado. A major party must garner at least 10% of the vote in the most recent governor’s race or senate race. The doofus that the Tea Party Republicans nominated for governor only got 12% of the vote. 

  • Robster

    Could they get some of the recently baptised dead new-mormons to sign up? What a crack up. The mormons are quite infamous for their economic use of truth, so they’ll try anything, I’m sure, to get their guy on the ticket.

  • Leohat

    Rmoney is filthy farking rich, silly things like laws don’t apply to rich people.

  • Emil Vikström

    I think this is just fair. The major parties have instituted bureaucratic rules favoring themselves in elections and making it really hard and time consuming for smaller parties to participate at the same terms. It is easy to miss a rule and get thrown out from the election altogether. Voting systems everywhere are corrupt only for this reason: they try to favor the established parties.

    I live in Sweden where minor parties have to print and distribute their ballots themselves. There is no way you can pay for getting the ballots distributed together with the major parties’ – you have to solve this yourself. Not only that but you (as a minor party) are responsible for keeping the ballots visible during the entire election day, across the whole country. You have to be there when the election room opens in the morning (no way to leave the ballots to the staff the day before) so it is impossible to have the ballots out at all locations at opening time because they all open within an hour from each other. Some may take ballot deliveries 15 minutes before opening time, but not all do this. You also have to make sure the ballots on the table don’t run out by checking back a few times during the day (something the staff does for the major parties but always refuses to do for minor ones).

  • amycas

    I think it’s taking it too far to not put a legitimate candidate’s name on the ballot because of a technicality. If it were something Romney had done to cause his name to not be on the ballot (like forget certain paperwork or something), then fine, don’t put it on there. But this situation had nothing to do with any decisions Romney or his campaign made, so I think it’s stretching it a bit for the libertarian party to sue. 

    • amycas

       Actually, I think I will retract my statement upon learning more about the situation. I think this could possibly look bad for Romney’s opponents (i.e. Faux news spin), but I support the enforcement of the law.

  • James Bozman

    The thing is, these are the same types of techicalities that the Rs use to keep us off the ballot. However, the Rs and Ds get special treatment from the courts, as seen by the fact that neither party registered their paperwork in time for the 2008 election in Texas, yet both apperared on the ballot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    I think the Libertarian Party has a fair gripe to make about this. If the rules are restricting them from being recognized as a major party, why shouldn’t the Republican party be treated equally? I’ve be surprised if this was “just to make a show of things.”

  • Greggles44

    Yay atheism!

  • 5Arete23

    Given the obstacles placed in the way of 3rd parties by laws passed by the duopoly parties, it would be poetic justice for a duoply party to be kept off the ballot by such laws.

    However, I reckon that the courts will decide that everybody knows that the intent of such laws is to keep 3rd parties off the ballot and that the laws must be ignored if they would have that effect on a duopoly party.

  • Aworkzone

    I don’t think so they get it on June.

    Aworkzone


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