Gov. Ned Lamont made it a little easier, but not too easy, for political challengers to get on the primary ballot in August by changing the signature threshold for ballot access.
Lamont’s executive order reduces by 30% the number of signatures a challenger or an unaffiliated petitioning candidate needs to get on the ballot. It also extends the deadline for submission of those signatures by two days and allows individuals to mail or email a signed petition form.
The executive order states that a signature may be scanned or photographed electronically and sent by electronic mail to the candidate and later, to the registrar of the municipality by the applicable deadline along with a copy of the email demonstrating the electronic transmission of the petition by the enrolled party member.”
The order creates a series of steps petitioners and petition-signers must take, including printing out petitions, photographing them, and submitting them, one petition at a time for each signer.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill had suggested that “for challengers in primaries, lower the delegate percentage to gain primary ballot access at the conventions to 5%, apply that to both multi-town and single-town districts, and have that be the only way to get on the primary ballot aside from being the endorsed candidate at a convention.”
However, that would have opened the door to more challenges of incumbent lawmakers.
A spokesman for Merrill said the elections office is working on how it will implement the executive order.
Alex Taubes, who filed a federal lawsuit against the state last week, said the change doesn’t go far enough.
It prompted Taubes to amend his complaint.
Taubes said Lamont’s executive order requires candidates to handle thousands of additional pages of paperwork in order to qualify for the ballot — more paper than candidates would have required if the old petitioning requirements were left in place.
He said the order also “introduces a cumbersome new mechanism for collecting in-person petition signatures that are still required to be signed by hand and will require hundreds of in-person interactions or a massive mailing using U.S. mail that would cost thousands of dollars and still risk meeting the deadline, which has been extended only two days.”
Specifically, the new executive order, according to Taubes, requires petitions to be mailed or dropped off at voters’ homes unless the candidate has the email address of a voter with a printer and a scanner or photographic device with email capability.
Voters are then required to mail, scan and email, or leave the signed petition at their homes for candidates to pick up. Each voter must use their own piece of paper for their own petition, resulting in an explosion of paper forms not previously required to be individually printed for each voter.
The state is expected to respond to the lawsuit by June.