Final Brief Filed in Vermont Ballot Access on Petition-Checking Procedures

On August 3, Rocky Anderson and the Justice Party filed their reply brief in Vermont lower state court, in Anderson v State of Vermont. The issue is whether a petitioning candidate should be kept off the November ballot, not because he didn’t obtain enough valid signatures, and not that he didn’t submit them in time, but because some town clerks didn’t check the petitions quickly. This reply brief goes beyond just technical issues and is an interesting read.


  1. I would assume that if ‘candidate a’ submitted enough valid petition signatures for ballot access (within the time frame that is allowed), then the fact the clerks did not look at the petitions should not be relevant to the candidate’s ballot access.

    If the goal of ballot access procedures is to ensure that a candidate or party has a minimum level of support, in order to avoid “too many” options listed, then the clerks error should not hurt the candidate.

    Otherwise, a qualified candidate or party could be kept off the ballot because a clerk “forget” to review the signatures in time.

    This is not to say that the clerks are all lazy, I have not read the details of the law. It is quite possible that they are overworked or simply did not have enough time or staff to verify the petitions.

    Still, the candidate should be not punished for it.

  2. Benjamin Eastwood · · Reply

    Actually, the issue is that the candidate needs to bring the petitions to each clerk in the first place. No other candidates have to do this, the sec state checks any other candidates off the state list. The town clerks don’t verify signatures, they just check the names against their list. The process is that the candidate needs to bring the petitions to the clerks, and then the clerks have no deadline to check them, but it is up to the candidate to make sure they get to the sec state on time. It is a broken law, and no constitutionally eligible independent candidates were able to do it this year, despite a variety of candidates doing it in the past before the laws changed. the only candidate that did achieve access was the SLP and their candidates are ineligible because the presidential candidate is too young, and the VP was born in Columbia. Clearly the law failed to prevent frivolous candidates from reaching the ballot but was an unachievable hurdle for the Green, the Constitution, and the Justice Party. As it stands, there are no eligible independent candidates in VT at this time.

    I am one of the plaintiffs in the case, and the Vermont Point Person for the campaign and for the Justice Party of Vermont.

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