A federal judge ruled that a slate of alleged “sham” Green Party write-in candidates can stay on the ballot.
Maricopa County began printing ballots Sept. 10 as planned, with the nine disputed candidates listed as Green Party nominees. The Arizona Green Party argued that its constitutional rights to free association would be burdened if it was represented by candidates it alleged did not share the party’s views.
But U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell ruled that the candidates did not place a heavy enough burden on the Green Party, and said all political parties frequently deal with candidates who do not fully represent their platforms and philosophies.
“The Court is not persuaded, however, that every impingement on associational freedoms requires strict scrutiny,” Campbell wrote in his ruling late Sept. 9. “While it is true that the statute might require (Arizona Green Party) members to associate with candidates who do not share their views, that is not uncommon in political parties.”
Campbell also rejected the Green Party’s claim that state law, which allows some Green Party write-in candidates to win their primaries with a single vote, violates their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. Only newly recognized parties – the Green Party lost its ballot access after the 2008 election and regained it earlier this year – are subject to that statute, whereas the Democratic, Libertarian and Republican parties have a higher threshold for write-in candidates.
The law does not deny the Green Party or its members a fundamental right, Campbell wrote.
“They retain their right to vote, their right to speak, their right to campaign and organize. Although the statute arguably burdens their associational rights by requiring them to tolerate candidates they do not support, that burden, as discussed above, is not uncommon in political parties,” Campbell said in his ruling.
But Campbell also refused a motion by the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office, county recorders and the candidates themselves to dismiss the case.
The Green Party sued, with financial support from the Arizona Democratic Party, over a slate of candidates whom both parties allege were recruited by the GOP to run as Greens to siphon votes from Democrats. Most of the write-in candidates changed their voter registration to Green in July, shortly before the deadline for running for office, and several won their primaries with just one, two or four write-in votes.
Republicans denied recruiting the candidates to take votes from Democrats, the second straight election in which the GOP faced such allegations. Former state Rep. Steve May, a candidate for the House, said he recruited four Mill Avenue street people to run as Greens, but said his intent was to help friends, not hurt Democratic candidates.