The Coalition for Free & Open Elections (COFOE) held its annual board meeting on July 15 in Baltimore. COFOE is a loose coalition of most of the nation’s nationally-organized minor parties, plus other groups that support COFOE’s goals of better legal treatment for independent candidates and alternative political parties.
The new officers are: Tom McLaughlin chair, Gary Odom vice-chair, Phil Huckelberry Secretary, Alice Kelsey Treasurer. The Board voted unanimously to attempt to persuade the national leaders of Americans Elect to let persons in each state (in which Americans Elect is ballot-qualified) who are interested in Americans Elect to have the freedom to meet in their own states and determine whether or not to choose presidential elector candidates, and determine which presidential candidate these electors would be pledged to.
In states in which Americans Elect is ballot-qualified and in which that state has registration by party, all the registrants in Americans Elect could be invited to such a meeting. In states without party registation, attendance could be open to any registered voter who is interested.
This policy would almost certainly mean that Americans Elect would have different presidential candidates in different states, but there is nothing new about a U.S. political party having different presidential candidates in different states. Parties that have had different presidential candidates in various states include the Whig Party in 1836; the Greenback Party in 1884; the Republican Party in 1912; the Prohibition Party in 1928; the Farmer-Labor Party in 1928; the Democratic Party in 1948, 1964, and 1968; the States Rights Party in 1956; the Constitution Party in 1960; the Libertarian Party in 2000; and the Reform Party in 2000, 2004, and 2008.
Giving state branches of Americans Elect the ability to help the ballot access for presidential candidates such as Virgil Goode, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and Rocky Anderson (all of whom have been elected to public office) would enhance voter choice and mean that the money spent on Americans Elect ballot qualification was not entirely wasted.
COFOE also voted unanimously for a resolution to draft a Bylaw that would say member organizations are expected not to challenge the ballot access petitions of other members of COFOE, particularly when those challenges involve presidential candidates.