Steve G.

Libertarian Party of Louisiana chair explains factors that led to missing the deadline to put Bob Barr on the ballot

In Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Politics on September 29, 2008 at 11:39 am

In a comment at Ballot Access News, the chair of the Libertarian Party of Louisiana explains why they missed the deadline to put Bob Barr on the ballot. Louisiana has one of the easiest ballot access requirements among all states, with no need to get signatures from voters – just a slate of electors to put the Presidential candidate on the ballot. There is an organized and active Libertarian Party in Louisiana, which is officially recognized as a political party by the state (unlike in some other states).

The Barr campaign’s attempt to complete the required paperwork got caught up in the confusion in the final week for regular filing, with both the electors needed to sign off on the papers as well as the Secretary of State’s office subject to evacuation due to Hurricane Gustav. Several smaller parties (including the Socialist and Reform Parties) also had the same problem. Several other parties and candidates avoided the problem by filing well ahead of the deadline.

The Libertarian and Socialist parties submitted their paperwork and sued the state, and the Libertarians (but not the Socialists) were initially granted injunctive relief by the court and placed on the ballot. However, an appeals court later reversed that ruling. The case is currently being appealed to the US Supreme Court.

Adrien Monteleone’s explanation of why the Libertarian Party was not among those that filed well ahead of the deadline:

We wanted to file these papers on the first day. However, the Barr campaign took it upon itself, without contacting the state party or the La SoS, to file and pay themselves. They did so incorrectly. The process of receiving the incorrect paperwork back from the SoS, forwarding to the Barr campaign for proper form of payment, and then getting it back in return took till the Wednesday before the Storm hit. It was on Thursday we were informed by the SoS that we in fact, as a recognized party, DID NOT need the payment. Had the SoS office been knowledgeable about the fact that we are to file in the same manner as the Dems and Reps from day one, we would have filed our paperwork on the first day.

Combine the Barr campaign’s lack of communication with the state party, the ignorance of the Secretary of State’s office of their own laws, and the hurricane closing the offices on the last day of filing (not to mention scattering some electors) and you see why we missed the Sept 2nd deadline.

Had we had even just the correct info from the SoS, the rest would have been irrelevant. The case required us to prove there was an action by the SoS which prevented us from filing – the combination of improper information of the requirements, as well as closing the offices on the last day (and lack of communication from them on re-opening) is what prevented the LPL from filing timely. Hence why we were granted the injunction.

In another comment on the same post, Richard Winger points out that

The Fifth Circuit opinion itself says the Dems & Reps didn’t file til Sep. 5. And, indeed, the Reps couldn’t have filed on Sep. 2, since they didn’t nominate for either pres or v-p until Sep. 3.

  1. double standards, incompetent officials, failure to work as a team …

  2. I’d like to share the same concern here that I wrote about in the thread at BAN that garnered this response from the LA State Chair.

    I believe there is a bigger problem here than just what occurred in LA. Nader is on in 46 states, the LP is currently on in 45.

    A hurricane, or misunderstanding by the SOS of LA of their own laws, or double standards, does not explain that fully, and if we miss learning the lessons from the 2008, it’ll be worse in 2012.

    Worse, IMO, means fewer states each election cycle and the end of the LP. I think that’s what’s at stake here, especially when a significant number of folks in the LP don’t even support a mission of actually winning, or working to win, elections.

    It seems to me the campaign dismissed some of our best ballot access folks, those with significant experience and insights, from working closest to the process — and more than dismissed them, drove them away. Perhaps I have a misimpression of that, but it’s what’s ringing true in my experience.

    I donated a modest amount to the Barr campaign ($250.00) but have not send more, largely because I was left feeling, after reading some of the financial reports emailed out by George Phillies, as well as talking with folks who felt West Virginia was a waste of time and money, that they had wasted what I had given.

    We’ve got all these lawyers, filing lots of lawsuits, all the way to the SCOTUS even. Seems to me their time, and our money, might have been better spent elsewhere.

    I don’t have the full answer to what went wrong here, I’m sure. Those closer to the process might, if they’re not so close they can’t see the forest for all the trees. But I wish we were seriously looking for those lessons, rather than blaming things on incompetent officials and hurricanes here (like we don’t know government officials are incompetent? or a hurricane is coming?), or sabotage by Nader forces there (like we should trust other political parties?), or an unfair deadline (like we don’t know the big boys on the playground like to bully small guys?)

    Maybe it’s the retired teacher in me, but the more excuses I read coming from the campaign, the more it sounds like unaccountable whining teenager, and the less interested I am in supporting more of that.

    I’m still voting for Barr, still have a bumper sticker on my car, a yard sign in the back window of my RV, still will invest 6 hours or so of my time at a booth at a university tomorrow supporting my own campaign and his, but a score of Nader 46, LP 45 just takes most of the enthusiasm for that out of me, leaves me embarrassed, and hoping I won’t get any questions about it.

    If I do, I won’t be blaming incompetent officials, double standards, hurricanes or Nader.

    The real problem, the only one we can fix for next time, is somewhere closer to home.


  3. Rereading this:

    “just takes most of the enthusiasm for that out of me”

    That’s a bit too strong. Not “most,” but much of it.


  4. Joe, please tell us more about what you perceive as the solution then.

    I see a lot of frustration like yours but I don’t see a lot of suggestions for fixing things in 2010, 2012 and beyond.

    Please note I am not criticizing you, simply attempting to learn from you and put your ideas and others for constructive future efforts to good use.


  5. George,

    Some simple solution I use in my own life:

    1) Never wait until the last minute to submit anything. The printer will jam, the traffic will stop, the car will break. GET IT IN EARLY. Pretend, if you must, that the deadline is earlier.

    When I earned my MBA at Purdue, they had a time stamp for papers. One minute late, zero credit. Power went off in the dorms, someone in family died, the professor had the wrong date on his syllabus — didn’t matter.

    THAT is how an effective business executive operates.

    2) Don’t put your life in the hands of others. Don’t blame others when they let you down — YOU ARE THE ONE WHO MADE THE CHOICE TO DO THAT. The “Nader folks lied to us” just translates to me as “We are stupid.” Nothing more or less than that. IT IS NEVER about the OTHER person. Be accountable, or you will not win support.

    3) Articulate an unequivocal Libertarian message.

    I’ve not seen that from the campaign, at least nothing that measured up to Ron Paul in the primaries, or even Chuck Baldwin on economic issues. Unless I misheard his answer, I thought I heard Bob Barr tell Comedy Central that the Bush Doctrine was correct, that we need preemptive CIA murder of foreign heads of state. At least that’s what it sounded like to me. I’m also unmoved by the slippery answer to other questions that it should be left up to the states, especially without knowing where Mr. Barr stands on those issues personally. It comes across as being embarrassed by pure Libertarian answers.

    And that diminishes enthusiasm among our most dedicated volunteers, ones doing it out of a sense of mission/life’s purpose rather than for only $$$. That, I believe, drove up the cost of ballot access, and led to missing some states.

    4) Prepare now for it to be worse in 2012. I’d not assume ballot access will be as easy as it is this year, or get any easier. I’d begin preparing for it to get worse.

    For example, unless I misunderstood (and I’m sure I misunderstand lots of things), ballot access for 2012 could begin in West Virginia now.

    5) Create a forum for Feedback. Ask for complaints. LISTEN. Sometimes all those who are pissed off really need is just an authentic experience of feeling heard.

    How many times have you walked out of a restaurant, for example, with a bad experience, but said “Fine” to the Cash register operator when asked “How was everything?”

    If you owned that restaurant, how valuable would that real, honest feedback be to you?

    People, contrary to popular belief, tend not to complain about things, especially in an environment where they believe they will not be heard, or will be punished.

    ASK FOR FEEDBACK. ASK more than once. Create the experience of feeling heard for those who are upset and reluctant to complain.

    6) Apologize to those who in 20-20 hindsight could have helped, but were cast off, dismissed, slandered, belittled, taken for granted EVEN WHERE THEY WEREN’T. Apologize even if it’s “unfair.”

    7) If after that there are still folks whose only purpose seems to be to drag down the energy, to do nothing but complain at EVERY turn and for no good reasons. Get rid of them. But don’t do it until you go the extra mile, and three or four after that.

    Good question. Answers above off the top of my head. Sure others can do better, but maybe this is a worthy start.


  6. Joe; that was an amazing, coherent, well-thought out response. Thank you for articulating some of my own feelings and misgivings about the Barr campaign.
    I’m a brand new Libertarian, so I don’t know a lot about the history and the machinations of the Party, all I know is that I’m excited about the possibilities, but so disappointed in the Barr campaign.
    They have ignored or at least slighted the local and state Libertarian parties, that’s for sure.
    What General would go into battle without his troops?
    Barr seems genuinely pleased to go at it with just Shane Corey and Russ Varney. Are you kidding me?
    I know I’ll be at the 2010 LP Convention in St. Louis, and I truly hope that things are better by then and I’ve helped in some small way.

  7. Joe:

    8) Move the LP nominating convention back in the calendar to create more time to get the work done and avoid substitution lawsuits and other unnecessary stuff would also help.

  8. Sorry, that 8) should have been an “8” followed by a right parentheses. Damn emoticons!

  9. Michael,

    I agree with moving the LP nominating convention up by 9 months to a year. Suggested that in response to the survey about where to have the convention in 2012 — DON’T. Instead have it in 2011.

    No more need to substitute, longer time for media coverage of the candidate and the party.

    No advantage I can see to having it only a couple of months before the RP and DP.


  10. On balance, I think you are correct.

    The counterargument is that more people will watch the convention if it takes place at a time when more people are paying attention to the election.

    Another argument is that we can attract more high quality candidates who make up their mind about running late in the process.

    To the first argument, I would say that we can have a rah-rah convention to showcase candidates and speakers and raise money around that time, or even after the D/R conventions.

    We can also have, e.g., bylaw and platform debates and selection of party officers at a separate time than the presidential convention. Perhaps make the meetings yearly instead of every other year, to allow for breaking things up a bit, and to allow the membership to have more of a say in the direction of the party a little more frequently.

    As for attracting the elusive billionaire/celebrity/top level major party defector/war hero:

    Substitution could still take place; it just shouldn’t be something we have to go through constantly.

    However, none of this applies to Louisiana.

  11. I don’t think there is necessarily a problem in most states with the current convention timing, though I would like to see the LNC offices be made into 4 year terms to be chosen in the “off year” conventions.

    This would mean more time would be available for dealing with other business during the Presidential race years, and you would have less of an issue w/ LNC races fighting w/ presidential candidates for support money and people. It would also have the advantage that the presidential race would be dealing with the same LNC, that has (hopefully) learned how to work together during the time before the presidential season, with no leadership changes at the convention. At the same time, if we aren’t forced to divide our attention between the LNC and presidential candidates, maybe we can give each more of the attention it deserves.

    One reason I’ve heard for wanting the late convention timing is that the current rules on fund-raising give candidates two windows for fund raising, one pre-convention, one post-convention, with the same maximum in each window, regardless of the convention date. Having the convention early will reduce the amount candidates can raise because it’s “too early” to get much interest, and then legally limit the amount that can be raised after the convention and make the winner spread that amount over a longer time period…

    Having a convention early enough to meet the NH standard would be very impractical, and it seems to me like the rest of the country has either only been a problem because of LNC / Barr campaign incompetence, or fairly well settled by precedents set this time around… I don’t see a big need to move earlier, and lots of potential disadvantages. (IIRC, we USED to have the conventions earlier, and moved them LATER because of the fund-raising limitations and an effort to make best use of the timing allowed by the current rules.)


  12. The off year convention is a brilliant idea. Some people see it as a capitulation. To what or why I have no idea.

    We should also have a party/publicity convention right around those of the Republicrats.

  13. Yes to moving presidential nominating conventions up to the prior year. No to extending terms to four years. Have the officers elected every two years – 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and the nominating conventions in 2011, 2015, etc. Problem solved with instability. LP also needs the presidential nominee in place by, say, Thanksgiving of 2011, so he or she can have time to build an effective organization in all the states. This 2008 effort appears to be a joke.

    I’m hearing Barr will be in Phila. for an appearance on Thursday. Does anyone know if he will meet/fundraise with LP leaders while here? Does anyone care?

  14. Joe Buchman is exactly correct here.

  15. One problem w/ having conventions every year is that you are asking an awfully big hit on the “regulars” for both time and money. Every two years is hard enough…

    You start having annual conventions and I suspect that you may well start seeing even more “convention packing” as those with specific agendas try to take advantage of the general burnout.

    I still haven’t seen ANY evidence that we gain real advantage from moving the Pres. nominating convention earlier for ballot access. (Other than in NH, which is solvable by helping Sue Blevins get the LPNH major party status) Nor has anyone shown any evidence that the issue I raised in my earlier post about the fund-raising problem of having a convention to early being inaccurate….


  16. I agree September 2nd was the dead line, not the first day to file. This should have been submitted back in July or August considering what a cake walk ballot access rules are in Louisiana. We had our paper work in by end of May in NC which required 69,000 signatures to get on the ballot. I have little sympathy for what should have been an easy job.

    I don’t see WV as a waste. It is a very difficult state because you have gather so many signatures within a narrow frame of time among a population of indoctrinated population which has benefited greatly from Federal government largesse.

    I do agree that Nadar being on more state ballots is a bit humiliating.

  17. It seems some people still do not understand what happened. I am not making excuses. I gave REASONS why we didn’t make the ballot. In hindsight, since we now know things we didn’t back then, had we known them, we could have made it. But since we didn’t know them, it was impossible. The outcome is what you saw.

    What we didn’t know, until now, is that we were given the WRONG instructions by the Secretary of State’s office. Had we had the correct instructions from day one, when we tried to file, we would have been on early with no problems. The incorrect instructions are what pushed us up to the deadline. The state offices being closed through and beyond the deadline are why we missed it.

    As for the other issues noted above, after experiencing Denver I would make the following recommendations:

    Off year conventions – Elect 4 year term LNC officers, platform and by-laws debate

    Presidential Years – nominate candidates, run seminars on electioneering. (I wasn’t able to attend any of this great stuff because I was too busy on the floor trying to stop chicanery)

    The Presidential conventions should be earlier, November prior is not too bad as this last cycle was just gearing up at that point.

    Since only a few of our state parties are large enough to require public run primaries, perhaps some type of competition system for pledged delegates to generate public interest?

    (p.s. – I concur, there is no excuse for the utter absence of communication from the Barr campaign to state affiliates. Did anyone else receive a phone call or e-mail concerning coordinating activities, anything? other than begging for money from the general mailing list)

  18. addendum – we learned our lessons and are wiser for it. This will not happen again in LA.

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