What limits should states be able impose on ballot access in federal elections?

There are moves in some states to make ballot access contingent on release of tax returns. For example there is the proposal that passed the legislature in California:

Should states be able to restrict ballot access based on release of tax returns? Does it matter if the law is tailored to target one candidate?

What about other restrictions? For example, can a state require presidential candidates to prove that they were born in the US?

Can a state say set an age limit on candidates? For example, setting a limit of 75 would allow Trump to run but would remove Sanders and Biden from the ballot.

My observation is that removing a major party candidate from the ballot from even one or two states would effectively make the national popular vote totals even more meaningless than they are already.

The only requirment that state should have is the person who is running for office swear or affirm:

  1. That they are a Natural Born Citizen.
  2. That they are 35 years of age or older.
  3. That they have been a resident of the United States for 14 years

The only other things I would agree to: A small registration fee (less than 1,000 dollar) or a petition signed by 1,000 people.

No other requirments are needed (and my last two are sketcy at best)

I am going to agree that states requiring tax returns is not a good direction to go.


Here is what the constitution says:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector. Article II, Section 2

States are not even required to have popular elections under the constitution. Theoretically they could auction off electoral votes to the highest bidder without violating the constitution, although I am not sure if that would violate federal law.

Should the federal law be a changed to restrict the limits states can impose on ballot access in federal elections?

No states are not required under the constitution to have public elections. Originally the state legislatures chose the members of the elctoral college and told them who to vote for.

Tecnically today, votes of the states are not voting for a “candidate” but a slate of electors that will vote in the electoral college.

I think there is one state were the presidential candidates name doesn’t appear on the ballot, but the slate of electors does.

Still Each presidential candidate in each state has a slate of electoral college members that will go and vote.

The proposed California law doesn’t address the electors.
It addresses the candidate. And access to being on the ballot.
One could make a “freedom of association” and “republican form of government” argument that the law unconstitutionally restricts the CA Republican party’s rights.
If the CA GOP wants to nominate a candidate who meets the federal requirements, it would be unconstitutional to deny them that.

There is a constitutional right to appear on the ballot? Many states impose restrictions, especially on third-party candidates.

Could California simply pass a law that prevents electors from voting for a candidate who does not release his tax returns?

those are the only restrictions to hold office, not to be on a ballot…

Wouldn’t they be one in the same? Requirments to hold the office be the requiments to be on the ballot for the office?

Why would it be different?

there is zero constitutional requirement to have a popular vote or any mention of ballots or how the states decide to cast their electroral collage vote…

it has always been left up to the states…

there is no requirement for a ballot…

the ballot is purely an arbitrary, optional process done by the states completely at their discretion…

california could hold a popular election, one candidate could get 95% of the vote…

the electoral college could decide to give it to joe the plumber who never even was running…

there is no federal law or constitutional sentence that prohibits it…

california could create a state law the defines that the popular election decides where the electoral college votes go… and many states have such laws…

but it is wholly a state level law…

Pretty good summary of the issue. It would wind up in the Supreme Court, of course.

Lets see…if California does this, what could states which were predominately Republican come up with?

If this is going to be a tactic, let California be the state to bring it up for court decision. Trump isn’t going to get any of their electors anyway.

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Suddenly this would be a bad idea. :smiley:

They can make limits but the Federal Congress can pass a laws to overrule them.

Yes, the states dominated by one party could make it very difficult for the opposition to get on the ballot. Balance of terror?

There have been some court rulings about ballot access. For example, the Supreme Court ruled that laws related selection of electors are limited by the fourteenth amendment:

On the other hand states have been very creative in keeping third parties and independents off the ballots. Barriers include large numbers of signatures required in multiple locations with short time limits. Here are links to some examples:

Doubt this goes anywhere. State laws trying to effect federal stuff always get overturned. I remember years ago Georgia passed a law setting term limits on their federal senators and representatives. Supreme Court said nope.

I think they should be allowed to gerrymander and restrict people from giving each other rides to the polls.

Update: California bill requiring Trump release tax returns for ballot access becomes law. For now the law is limited to presidential primaries.

If the California law withstands a court challenge, perhaps some strongly Republican states should enact an age limit of 75 for ballot access. That would eliminate Biden and Sanders from the ballot.

One would bar candidates based on what information they willingly provide and the other bars them based on who they are. Only one of those can be interpretted as discrimination

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