The Libertarian Party won a legal victory Wednesday that allows them to hire out-of-state contractors to collect signatures for candidates petitioning their way onto the ballot.
Currently, only Connecticut residents are permitted to collect signatures. Professional circulators from out-of-state firms, which are often hired by candidates, must be accompanied by a Connecticut resident.
The lawsuit filed in December by Stanley Twardy of Day Pitney on behalf of the Libertarian Party says that the restriction is unconstitutional and increases the cost of collecting signatures.
U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall granted a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction Wednesday that stops Secretary of the State’s office from enforcing the law in this year’s elections.
The state argued that the current law helps minimize fraud, but Hall suggested that a “more narrowly tailored means to achieve” that goal is possible.
Hall concluded that circulating a petition is “core political speech” and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill would be infringing on the Libertarian Party’s First Amendment rights by impeding it.
“This decision is good news for free speech,” Dan Barrett, the ACLU of Connecticut’s legal director and a cooperating attorney, said. “The Libertarian Party deserves the chance to deliver its message by hiring signature-gatherers based on their qualifications, not their zip codes.”
The decision, according to Barrett, aligns with other federal court rulings across the country.
“We will comply with the law fully,” Patrick Gallahue, a spokesman for Merrill’s office, said.
Libertarian Party candidates have run in every election cycle in Connecticut from 2010 to 2014, and the national Libertarian Party candidate has appeared on the Connecticut ballot for President and Vice President of the United States in six of the seven past presidential election cycles.