Here is a press release that was sent out today:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 10, 2009
COUNTY COMMISSIONER JOELLE RIDDLE FILES FEDERAL LAWSUIT TO GAIN EQUAL ACCESS TO BALLOT AS AN INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE
Durango, CO — La Plata County Commissioner Joelle Riddle will file a federal lawsuit this week challenging the constitutionality of a state election law that imposes a heavier burden on independent candidates to obtain a place on the ballot.
The statute in question precludes an independent or unaffiliated candidate from being eligible to be nominated by petition for elective office unless they were not affiliated with any political party for one year plus 140 days before the general election, or by June 15 of this year. Riddle changed her affiliation on August 21.
While a similar statute appears to impose the same burden on major party candidates, that statute allows major parties to "opt out" of this requirement by adopting party rules to override the statute. Both major parties have taken advantage of this opt out provision and now allow a candidate to obtain the nomination of their party just as long as they have been a member of the party one year before the general election and thus providing an exemption from the 140 "additional" days required by all others.
"I seek to remedy this burden that falls unequally on small political parties and independent or unaffiliated candidates, unfairly discriminating against them and not affording them the same privileges as the major political parties. Throughout my campaign and during my three years in office, I have always maintained that partisan politics have no place in county government,” Riddle said. “I work for all citizens of La Plata County regardless of their affiliation and believe I can do so more effectively as an Independent County Commissioner and I would like an equal opportunity to be on the ballot as such.
"The Supreme Court has held that "[t]he exclusion of candidates also burdens voters' freedom of association, because an election campaign is an effective platform for the expression of views on the issues of the day, and a candidate serves as a rallying point for likeminded citizens."
"If an election law unfairly or unnecessarily burdens the citizens' political opportunity, it is unconstitutional", Riddle says.
The Commissioner invites public response to her filing the lawsuit at independentcommissioner.blogspot.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com