On September 18, the Tenth Circuit upheld the Kansas voter registration form, which won’t let voters register into unqualified parties. The Constitution Party had brought the case in 2010. The Tenth Circuit had already ruled in 1984 that Colorado must let voters register into unqualified parties, if those unqualified parties are active enough to have at least qualified their nominees for the November ballot using the independent candidate petition procedure.
The Kansas voter registration form has a checkbox for all the qualified parties, and for “independent”, but no blank line for a voter to write in the name of an unqualified party. Kansas is one of only two states that makes it physically impossible for voters to register into an unqualified party; the other one is Wyoming.
The new decision says that the Constitution Party doesn’t meet the standards set out in the 1984 decision, because the Constitution Party has never qualified any nominees for the November ballot by petition. However, the Tenth Circuit is mistaken. In 2004, the Constitution Party qualified Michael Peroutka for the November ballot as an independent presidential candidate.
The decision does acknowledge that the Constitution Party was a ballot-qualified party in Kansas in the past, but says that doesn’t count because at the time, the decision says, the party had a different name. But the Tenth Circuit got that wrong also; the party was on the ballot in 2000 as the Constitution Party. The party had petitioned as a party in 1998 under the name Taxpayers Party, and got enough votes in 1998 so that it was automatically on the ballot in 2000. But Kansas had let the party change its name in 1999 from “Taxpayers” to “Constitution.” See footnote 8 in the decision. The Constitution Party went off the ballot in 2002 because it failed the vote test.