To My Neighbors-
On March 3, 2020, we Minnesotans will be holding an election costing around $12-million to decide which presidential candidate seeking our support best represents the views of the national political party with which we most closely identify. After we voters make our decision, delegates from the respective state parties will be sent to a national convention. Under our law, these delegates are bound to advance the nomination of the candidate we chose at these conventions.
It is my desire to advance the nomination of Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente at the Republican National Convention. The only way for me to do this is to participate in the primary election and cast my vote for Rocky to determine how many delegates of the Republican Party Of Minnesota (the “RPM”) will be bound to advance his nomination by the national Republican Party (the “GOP”). There’s just one problem: the RPM chairwoman notified the Secretary to print only one name on my ballot, that of President Trump. The chair’s notice is final and may not be changed. Being unable to vote for Rocky, he and I asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to order the Secretary to print his name on the ballot. A couple of days ago, the high court denied our request by issuing an order with an opinion to follow explaining why our arguments lacked legal merit. Now, I sit in wait for the high court’s opinion so I know how to act in the primary election to voice my desire with others across the country that Rocky receive the nomination of the national GOP.
It has been suggested that I can write-in Rocky’s name on my ballot. While it is true that I can scribble his name on a line, it is not true that my vote will be recorded as being a vote for Rocky. This is because the law requires the RPM chairwoman to notice the names that can be written-in, which she has expressed absolutely no intention of doing. Suppose that 100,000 write-in votes were cast for Rocky with one vote cast for President Trump: every single RPM delegate will be bound by law to advance President Trump at the national convention despite us tax-paying voters collectively deciding that we desire the exact opposite to occur. As stated by our 8th Circuit Senior Judge Jesse Henley about a similar issue:
“The right to associate with the political party of one’s choice is an integral part of this basic constitutional freedom. … The rights of political parties derive from the associational rights of members and candidates, and it would make little sense to afford greater protection to the rights of political parties than to the rights of voters and candidates.”Republican Party Of Arkansas v. Fulkner County, Arkansas, 49 F.3d 1289 at 1292 (¶4) and 1297 (¶38), 63 USLW 2567 (1995)
To understand what this means, consider the GOP’s allowance of Rocky to seek its nomination and that I (and others) want him to receive it. Rocky, his supporters, and I are “associated” together. The association between Minnesota voters and Rocky is then manifested by way of the RPM delegates that we bind in our primary election and send to the national GOP convention. The association between Minnesota voters and Rocky then gives rise to the rights of the RPM and the GOP. However, Minnesota law empowers the state parties to sever this associational relationship between Minnesota voters and nationally recognized candidates, which is exactly what happened to me. By empowering the RPM to prevent Rocky, who is affiliated with the GOP, from appearing on Minnesota ballots, our state law has allowed the RPM to sever the triangular relationship between me, Rocky, and the GOP.
Our tax dollars are paying our Secretary Of State to print the primary ballots as well as our county officials to distribute those ballots to us. Our tax dollars are maintaining our city halls in which the machines we purchased will be tallying our votes. Our tax dollars will then pay for the canvassing boards to compile and certify how we all voted as well as the reporting of those results to the state parties. And, our state has required state delegates to go to the national conventions bound as we tax-paying voters have directed. Aside from the associational relationships that are severed, the fact that we are spending millions of dollars to not be able to collectively make a decision is outrageous. As Minnesota’s own U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger said in 1974 writing an opinion for a unanimous court about a similar issue:
“[T]he right to vote is heavily burdened if that vote may be cast only for one of two candidates in a primary election at a time when other candidates are clamoring for a place on the ballot. It is to be expected that a voter hopes to find on the ballot a candidate who comes near to reflecting his policy preferences on contemporary issues. … The point, of course, is that ballot access must be genuinely open to all.”Lubin v. Panish, 415 U.S. 709 at 716, 719 (1974)
If only one candidate is to appear on my primary ballot, my ability to vote is more than heavily burdened: the state has allowed it to be completely stripped away from me. I have been wholly disenfranchised from my own state and federal government processes. And, the integrity of our election process is no longer fair, honest, or orderly. As Senior Judge Henley put it,
“By effectively depressing the number of individuals casting votes in the Republican primary, (the state) has likely increased, not decreased, the risk that a frivolous or fraudulent candidate could win that party’s nomination.”Republican Party Of AR at 1301 (¶52).
Furthermore, I am being forced to financially support those who are politically opposed to me while at the same time not being provided access to a similar benefit that my competitors enjoy on my dime. This election is not a query, nor is it being undertaken to collect information. We are spending millions of dollars to determine which national candidate we tax-paying voters collectively require to be advanced by state delegates at a national convention. If only a single candidate appears on our primary ballot while at the same time excluding others who are similarly situated, we waste millions of our own dollars and valuable state resources to literally not choose anything. What a swift kick in the shorts that is.
Even if the courts are dead wrong in their opinion that the rights of political parties are subordinate to the rights of voters and candidates, one must at least consider the rules of the political party at issue. The GOP clearly intends for Rocky to be able to seek its nomination, or it would not allow its related state parties to put his name on their ballots. After all, the current rules of the GOP clearly require its subordinate RPM to politically associate with Rocky so he can obtain its delegates by way of our Super Tuesday primary election:
“No state law shall be observed which hinders, abridges, or denies to any citizen of the United States, eligible under the Constitution … the right or privilege of being a candidate under such state law for the nomination for President … which authorizes the election or selection of … delegates from any state to the national convention.”Rules Of The Republican Party, Rule 16(d)(5). Page 22.
And further supposing the RPM need not adhere to the rules of its national GOP parent, the corporate law of the RPM currently requires its Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan to solicit Rocky for the placement of his name on the primary ballot. And, she is directed by her corporation to do so without giving preference or endorsement to any of Rocky’s competition, such as the incumbent President Trump:
“The Party officers generally shall have the responsibility … to seek out qualified candidates and encourage them to seek public office. No Party officer shall use his/her official position to promote pre-primary endorsement support or induce the candidacy of any individual by assuring Republican Party support prior to any endorsement by the convention.”Bylaws Of The Republican Party Of Minnesota, Article IV §8. Page 2.
The wasting of our tax dollars to suppress our collective will is inexcusably, unequivocally, and absolutely egregious. Especially so when you consider how President Trump paid off the RPM in carrying out this exclusion of candidates from our ballots in violation of his own party’s rules, and the RPM’s unwillingness to indulge the Supreme Court. If we are not able to decide for ourselves what we collectively believe is best, our electoral process will remain broken. I have interned my friends who have died in battle so that we may all participate in the decision of choosing who best represents us. I have buried members of my family who have lived with permanent physical disfigurement inflicted from war so that each of us may speak for ourselves at the decision making table. And, there are a countless number of others who have died for me to be able to choose who I believe best represents me, and they do not even know that I exist. This failure on the part of my state ignores, injures, and disrespects the sacrifices and memories of those who have paid the ultimate price. Though I do not yet know how my Supreme Court will vindicate my choice to associate with Rocky and his Republican supporters nationwide, I pray the Supreme Court will bring honor to our patriots in its to-be-released opinion.
14 January 2020
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