Saturday, September 13, 2008

Socialist Candidates to File Lawsuit for Inclusion on Louisiana Ballot

Brian Moore Blasts Louisiana officials for "shamelessly obstructing minor party access to ballot in aftermath of Hurricane Gustav"; accuses Gov. Jindal and Secretary of State Dardenne of using natural disaster to protect John McCain and the GOP

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Saturday, September 13, 2008: Brian P. Moore of Florida and Stewart A. Alexander of California, the Socialist Party-USA candidates for President and Vice President, respectively, have initiated lawsuits against the states of Louisiana and Mississippi for denying the Socialist Party's presidential ticket a place on the ballot in the November general election. Both lawsuits are expected to be filed early next week.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Secretary of State Jay Dardenne were blasted today by the Socialist Party's presidential candidate for their "shameless" actions to keep the Socialist Party's presidential ticket and four other parties, including the Libertarian Party, from being on the Louisiana ballot on November 4. Mark R. Brown, a law professor at CapitalUniversity in Columbus, Ohio, who is representing the Socialist and Libertarian parties in their lawsuit against Louisiana, has written to state election officials urging them to reconsider their decision to deny both parties a place on the official ballot. "I cannot imagine that the Secretary [of State] would want to take advantage of a natural disaster to further his own political ends," wrote Brown in a letter dated September 10, "but that is certainly the way it is shaping up."

Secretary of State Dardenne's office decided to exclude the Moore/Alexander ticket and the Libertarian Party's ticket headed by former Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia from this year’s ballot because both campaigns failed to deliver the requisite paperwork to his office by September 2, 2008, notwithstanding the fact that the Elections office was officially closed on that date by executive order. In his letter addressed to Murietta Norton, the state's legal counsel, Brown said "that people in New Orleans and Baton Rouge were ordered to evacuate before Hurricane Gustav hit the coast, which would have made it extremely stupid for anyone to attempt to come to Baton Rouge to deliver papers on September 2, 3, 4, or 5." Brown also noted that the Secretary of State's own web site explicitly stated that the office would be officially closed until, Monday, September 8, 2008.

Brown further noted that the city of Baton Rouge still lacks essential services as of this date; many basic functions—including water, sewage, electricity, and the mail—are not fully up and running. Brown, who last month won an historic victory in federal court for the Socialist Party in Ohio — placing the party's presidential ticket on the ballot in that battleground state for the first time since 1932 — pointed out that, as a direct result of Hurricane Gustav, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana has extended all deadlines for lawyers with offices in Terrebonne and LaFourche Parishes until September 22, 2008. In his letter, Brown also noted that the Secretary of State recently postponed the state's congressional primary, which was rescheduled for September 13, 2008, because voting precincts in many parishes are not yet functioning.

Moore stated that this action by the state of Louisiana is not only an "attempted disenfranchisement of the state's socialist-leaning voters," but was also an obvious attempt by Gov. Jindal and Secretary Dardenne, both of whom are Republicans, "to protect John McCain and the GOP from the Libertarian Party's Bob Barr and other alternative candidates." Moore also noted that Gov. Jindal, "a rising star in the GOP," had been on McCain's short list of vice-presidential possibilities. "These guys are using a natural disaster to keep Bob Barr and myself off the ballot," Moore stated. "After Katrina, one would think the last thing they'd want to do is to take political advantage of another hurricane. It's unconscionable."

The Socialist Party's presidential ticket received 1,795 votes in Louisiana in 2004, finishing sixth in a nine-candidate field. This year the party hopes to be on the ballot in at least ten states — the most since 1952. The Libertarian Party's Bob Barr, who has already been certified for the ballot in forty-four states, had been registering as high as six percent in national polls earlier this summer and is seen as a real threat to McCain's prospects in November.

Citing the party's historic victory in federal court in Ohio on August 21, Matt Erard, Moore's national ballot-access coordinator, stated that, among nationally-organized parties on the left, the Socialist Party and the Moore-Alexander campaign were "leading the fight against undemocratic ballot access laws this year."

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