Let These Third-Party Candidates Run, Too

Judges who keep minor-party candidates on their towns' November ballots ring the bell for democracy, giving town voters greater choice.

Stamford Superior Court Judge Kenneth Povodator's recent ruling allowing Save Westport Now on the ballot was a welcome precedent for at least a dozen other Connecticut cities and towns where minor-party candidates have been thrown off municipal election ballots because of a filing technicality.

So was the ruling by Middletown Superior Court Judge Edward Domnarski permitting candidates from the Chatham Party to appear on the ballot for municipal election in East Hampton.

Other third-party candidates should be restored to ballots, too.

In 2011, the legislature amended state election law to require minor-party nominees in municipal elections to personally sign a certificate of endorsement that's filed with town clerks. Democratic- and Republican-endorsed candidates have no such requirement in municipal elections.

The change in law was not enforced by election officials in the 2011 municipal elections. But they sure did enforce it this year. Several town clerks jumped on endorsed candidates who didn't personally sign certificates of endorsements, disqualifying them from the ballot.

The change makes sense. It is to verify — through the signature requirement — that the endorsed person actually wants to be endorsed by that party.

But the number of candidates caught in noncompliance suggests that the 2011 change in the law was poorly communicated to minor-party organizations and officeholders.

The law also treats minor-party candidates differently from major-party candidates and that's unacceptable. Why not require Democrats and Republicans, too, to sign their certificates of endorsement in municipal elections? They all are required to sign in statewide elections.

A state's election laws should not disadvantage minor parties, which could come to play a larger role in politics and governing as the major parties continue to show a growing incompetence.

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