Overview of the January 1992 decisions re: Green Party election rules

Report for GPCA General Assembly, November 1992
Subject: Overview of the January 1992 decisions re: Green Party election rules 
Sponsor: Coordinating Committee 
Presenter: Cuest, Sacramento

January 21st, 1992 - The Green Party of California (GPCA) is certified as a qualified political party by the Secretary of State.

January 25th-26th, 1992 - The GPCA holds its first statewide meeting after achieving ballot status (Sacramento).

In an attempt to assure the new Party's key values be melded with California law - and especially to protect the Party's integrity in its first electoral outing, the party adopted an alternative set of election rules - differing from any other ballot-qualified party in California. This ‘adoption of alternative rules’ was contrary to the California tradition/practice of accepting the rules of another party first, then petitioning the state legislature for new rules later.

January 28th, 1992 - The GPCA formally informs March Fong Eu, California Secretary of State, that the GPCA intends to implement alternative election rules. The letter’s key points were that

• all partisan races would be declared closed unless the regisered members of a given county or district ask that the races be open to candidates (this rule had received 92% support at the GPCA statewide meeting)

• blank ballots should be tallied and used to determine if any candidate should go forward to the general election, such that if there were more blank ballots than votes for any candidate, the party will be deemed to have no candidate. (this rule was supported by consensus at the January 25th-26th GPCA statewide meeting).

January 29th, 1992 - Anthony (Tony) Miller, Chief Deputy, responds on behalf of the Secretary of State, rendering an administrative decision denying the GPCA’s alternative rules, stating that in the absence of “statutory authority or an appropriate court order”, the Secretary of State would not operate in accordance with the GPCA rules.

February 3rd, 1992 - The GPCA appeals the Secretary of State’s administrative ruling to the Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento. Mark E. Merrin, of Dicksen & Merin in Sacramento, is the Attorney for the GPCA.

February 10th, 1992 - The GPCA wins in court (Green Party vs. Eu, 94-16564). Superior Court Judge James T. Ford rules the Secretary of State should recognize and abide by the GPCA’s duly promulgated rules, including that:

(1) in all GPCA races in which elections are held that the ballot choice “none of the above” (NOTA) shall be placed on the ballot (Order, RP 124). Election officials must tally all votes marker for NOTA. If NOTA receives more votes than any candidates for that race, the party will be deemed to have no candidate.

(2) GPCA primary elections would occur only in those races for partisan offices where, under GPCA rules, the party has first decided that any given GPCA race shall be opened to candidates.

note - The GPCA had originally not asked specifically for NOTA, but rather ‘that blank ballots be counted, and if they receive more votes than any candidate, the party would be deemed to have no candidate’. Judge Ford altered this by-law to NOTA, with the GPCA’s permission. The court's decision was then appealed by the Secretary of State. The GPCA's rules were allowed to stand in the 1992 and 1994 elections.

March 2nd, 1992 - Two challenges were made to the GPCA’s closing of certain legislative districts - by the Green Party of Mendocino County and by David "Honey" Davis of Hollywood. Judge Ford denied these challenges and upheld his earlier ruling, finding that the GPCA had followed its process properly, and that the GPCA had the right to establish its own rules.

June 2nd, 1992 - NOTA Results in the California Green primary NOTA defeats Roger Donaldson in the 53AD, 207-171 (54.8% - 45.2%), after Donaldson decides to pull out of the race and mails to all of the registered Greens at the last minute, urging them not vote for him. Other high votes for NOTA were in the 51st CD, were Richard Roe beat NOTA 265-122 (68.5%-31.5%) and in the 5th CD, where Tian Harter defeated NOTA 660-233 (73.9% - 26.1%).