Atlanta, GA September 4, 2021: Judge Leigh Martin May of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has ruled to reduce the ballot access petitioning requirement for third parties from 5% to 1%. This comes as a result of an ongoing legal battle between the Libertarian Party of Georgia and the Secretary of State over the requirement that third-party and independent candidates must collect signatures before their names can appear on most Georgia ballots. The reduced-signature remedy gives relief to candidates currently excluded from ballots because barriers are too high to be reasonably met. This interim measure will remain in place until the Georgia General Assembly can move to enact permanent legislation.
The court awarded summary judgement to the Libertarian Party of Georgia in this case, ruling that the exclusionary practice violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The current remedy is proposed as a compromise to the two-option remedy recommended by the plaintiffs which provided a choice between a qualifying fee of 3% of the salary of the office or a petition of 500 signatures. This proposal was rejected as the defendants argued that the state has a vested interest in eliminating frivolous candidates and this proposal would provide no meaningful ballot access requirements.
The Democrat and Republican parties currently have no petitioning requirements and are automatically included on election ballots. No additional candidates have qualified for Georgia’s U.S. House elections since the rules were established, even when many incumbents run unopposed.
Chair of the Libertarian Party of Georgia, Ryan Graham, responded, “With this win, the plaintiffs toppled 80% of the illegitimate wall designed to keep challengers off of the ballot. Collusion by the two old parties to exclude everyone else is a violation of our rights to self-governance and equal protection of the law. What I’m most proud of is this: the Libertarian Party of Georgia didn’t sue to add ourselves as a third option. We have sued—and won—a greater opportunity for any Georgian who rejects the old parties to run for a role in their own representation.”
About The Libertarian Party of Georgia
The Libertarian Party of Georgia is a state affiliate of the national Libertarian Party. “The Party of Principle” strongly opposes government interference into personal, family, and business decisions, believing that all Americans should be free to live their lives and pursue their interests as they see fit as long as they do no harm to others.
Information and Press Inquiries:
Elizabeth Melton Gallimore, Executive Director
Libertarian Party of Georgia