Here is what the new Count My Vote citizen initiative would do if passed by voters in November 2018:
- All candidates can only get on their party’s primary ballot by gathering signatures (and thus advance to the general election) – set at 1 percent of the number of party registered voters in the district the candidate is running in, or the whole state if running for a statewide office, like governor, AG, or U.S. Senate. (See accompanying story for what those numbers may be, and were before under SB54.)
- A candidate, not a political party, will decide if he or she belongs to a political party by registering as a member of the party with the county clerk or appropriate officer.
- The State Elections Office will determine what that 1 percent number is for each district up for election and statewide, and publish those numbers by Oct. 1 of the previous (odd-numbered) year, giving all candidates several months notice of the number they need to gather.
- A candidate can start collecting signatures from Oct. 1 of the previous odd-numbered year.
- Moves the general election year party primary from the fourth Tuesday in June to the first Tuesday in June.
For some time advocates of moving the late-June primary have argued it is a bad time for an election, with many individuals and families on vacation or otherwise not concentrating on politics.
- A candidate wins his primary election if he gets more than 35 percent of the vote.
- If no candidate gets 35 percent of the vote in a multi-candidate primary election, there will be a runoff election.
That runoff election will be held the second Tuesday in August, where the top two vote-getters in the primary will be on the ballot. The winner is the party’s nominee for that office.
That gives around four weeks for the top two vote-getters in the primary to run a run-off campaign against each other.
The run-off election will only be by mail-in or absentee ballots, and the county or state (as is now the case) will pay for the run-off election.
- Signature gathering is the ONLY way to get on the general election ballot under a party’s name or banner.
CMV does not outlaw party’s holding conventions, nor for delegates at conventions to vote on candidates. But any candidate advanced by a convention MUST ALSO gather signatures and must win the primary election to advance to the general election.
The result is any candidate that doesn’t collect signatures (and win his party’s primary) may be on the general election ballot, but only under independent or write-in status.
- Candidate signature petitions are due March 1st, or the first business day in March. Under SB54, this was the last day in March.
That gives a candidate who starts Oct. 1, five months to collect the number of signatures he needs to get on his party’s primary ballot.