I attended the second hearing of the Montgomery County Court of Appeals today where there were many questions about “substantial compliance” including the part about “what the certificate of candidacy” actually means.
All of it was horse hockey. Early voting starts tomorrow and the judges were thinking it was too late to put Pace’s name on the ballot. They asked what the credentials of both the candidate and the circulator were, and if a candidate could sign his own petition (no).
After the two lawyers danced around legal precedent and not-knowing what was really going on, I asked if I could approach as a friend of the court and answer some of their questions. I was denied- although during the discussion- I did answer as many of the questions as I could.
A few things about “Substantial compliance”- no one is questioning that Pace had over 500 legitimate signatures, which is substantial compliance considering you only need 50 to run for Congress. Not only that, the Board of Elections took money from Mr. Pace, $45, which should indicate that not only did he wish to be a candidate, that they had accepted his application of candidacy. They further contacted him, asking him how he wanted his name on the ballot, and told him he had over 500 signatures.
The purpose of filing to be a candidate is to let the voters decide who they want to lead them, it’s not up to the Board of Elections to make that decision for the voters.
Not only that, in the “Certificate of Candidacy” part of the form, it clearly says “This petition, if found insufficient, shall be returned to William Pace at his address.” We know that Mr. Harsman at the BOE found the petition to be potentially insufficient days before the deadline for submission of his signature on a certificate of candidacy and did nothing to return the petitions to Mr. Pace.
The form is fundamentally flawed in so many places, that in many instances, filling it out differently has no effect on the candidacy of the petitioner. In fact, since no one knows whether there will be a primary until the petitions are turned in and validated, it’s fundamentally flawed with its dates that are presented to the voters, since they may or may not vote for the candidate in the primary- or the general election and either date could be entered on the first part of the form.
I also believe that this form doesn’t nominate a candidate in any way- it grants a nominating committee the right to place a candidate on the ballot. Therefore, regardless of the actions of Mr. Pace per the petition- the nominating committee is still in existence and valid, having over 650 valid signatures.
If the court of appeals doesn’t rule in Mr. Pace’s favor, this case should be continued and appealed to the next higher level. This is a clear instance of a partisan board of elections interfering with access to the ballot in a non-partisan election, because of a form, designed to keep partisan politics out of the process and let the people decide who shall lead them.
What good are elections if we can only choose between candidates whom the parties select, vet, and verify?