Petition for Writ of Mandate, compelling Respondent, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, to require proof of eligibility prior to approving Presidential candidate names for ballot placement and to declare unconstitutional California Election Code section 6901.
John Albert Dummett, Federal Election Commission registered candidate for President of the United States, is asking the Sacramento County Superior Court to require Ms. Bowen to ensure, and verify, that all Presidential candidates meet the Constitutional requirements prescribed for President of the United States, as specified in Article II, Section I, Clause 5, of the United States Constitution.
Joining John Dummett at the press conference will be Gary Kreep, Executive Director of the United States Justice Foundation ( www.usjf.net ), Attorney of Record for Mr. Dummett in the lawsuit.
This action challenges the failure of Respondent Bowen to verify that all candidates for the Office of the President of the United States seeking to be placed on the California Presidential primary and/or general ballots.
An unprecedented and looming constitutional crisis is before the court if Debra Bowen does not require that Presidential candidates provide proof that they meet the U. S. Constitution, Article 2, requirements for the Office of the President prior to a candidate’s name being placed on the ballot, since voters can and will, reasonably rely on the assumption that all names on the ballot have been verified as eligible for the office. The voter’s only remaining task is to select a candidate to vote for.
Secretary California State law provides that any voter in California may seek a writ of mandate for errors in placing of a name on the ballot: “An elector may seek a writ of mandate alleging that an error or omission has occurred, or is about to occur, in the placing of a name on, or in the printing of, a ballot, sample ballot, voter pamphlet, or other official matter, or that any neglect of duty has occurred, or is about to occur.” California Elections Code § 13314(a)(1). Further, the U. S. District Court in Hollander v. McCain held, “a candidate or his political party has standing to challenge the inclusion of an allegedly ineligible rival on the ballot, on the theory that doing so hurts the candidate’s or party’s own chances of prevailing in the election.” Hollander v. McCain, 566 F.Supp.2d 63 (D.N.H. 2008).
John Dummett is running for President, and he is a California voter, who is concerned that one or more unverified candidates for President of the United States will be included on the California Presidential primary ballot. His interest is in ensuring that candidates for President are running only against other candidates who are eligible to run for and serve as President. Finally, the language of California Elections Code § 6901, compelling the Secretary of State to place any candidate nominated by a political party on the ballot, without verifying that the candidate is eligible for the office, is in direct conflict with the requirements for Presidential eligibility in Article II of the United States Constitution.
Since the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land, under both the United Stales and the California Constitutions (U.S. Constitution, Article VI, Clause 2; California Constitution, Article 111, § I), any statute which conflicts with the United Stales Constitution is an unconstitutional variance, and is, therefore, void and unenforceable.
California Secretaries of State have historically exercised their due diligence by reviewing necessary background documents, verifying that the candidates that were submitted by the respective political parties as eligible for the ballot were, indeed, eligible. Debra Bowen has exercised this power to remove ineligible candidates from the ballot. Just this year, Peta Lindsay was selected by the Peace and Freedom Party to be their Presidential candidate on the 2012 California Presidential primary ballot. Ms. Bowen, however, rejected Ms. Lindsay, and refused to place her name on the ballot, because she is 27 years old, when the U.S. Constitution, Article 2, § 1, requires that candidates for President be at least 35 years of age.
Ms. Bowen is required by California statutes to oversee California elections, and to enforce California election law. This requirement cannot be satisfied by attempting transfer the duty to enforce election law to any other entity, such as to political party national committees, or even to the California electorate.
PETITIONERS, therefore, respectfully request that the Court:
1. Determine whether Bowen has required all candidates for President of the United States to provide proof that they are, in fact, eligible lo serve in the office of President of the United States under the United Slates Constitution, Article 11, Section 1;
2. Enjoin Bowen from placing the names of candidates who have failed to so prove their eligibility on the 2012 California Presidential primary election ballot;
3. Mandate that Bowen require all candidates for the office of President of the United States provide sufficient proof of eligibility prior to approving their names for the ballot
4. Find California Elections Code § 6901 to be unconstitutional and unenforceable.
Grant PETITIONERS such other and further relief the Court deems just and proper.
The Secretary Of State Has Failed To Comply With Her Duty To Enforce California Election Law.
These three requirements for holding the office of President, while clearly stated in the U.S. Constitution, are not required by the California Secretary of Stale to be proven by candidates seeking to be named on the Presidential primary ballot. For this reason, PETITIONERS, upon information and belief, have reason to believe that Bowen has not required candidates to prove their eligibility for the office and, as a result, have formally placed on the ballot, and will place on future ballots, names of candidates who are ineligible to hold the office of President, and should have been ineligible to run for said office.
There is a reasonable and common expectation by the voters that, to qualify for the ballot, the individuals running for office must meet minimum qualifications, as outlined in the federal and state Constitutions and statutes, and that compliance with those minimum qualifications has been confirmed by the officials overseeing the election process. In some states, a signed statement from the Presidential candidate, attesting to his or her meeting those qualifications, is required. The California PETITIONERS seek a judicial determination as lo whether BOWEN must require proof of eligibility from the candidates prior to approving their names for printing on the California Presidential primary ballot.
Bowen may attempt to explain her failure to comply with her duty to verify the eligibility of Presidential candidates on the grounds that California Elections Code § 6901 supersedes the California Secretary of State website (http://wwvv.sos.ca.gov/admin/about-lheaaency.hlm) lists the duties of that office, including the duly of the chief elections officer for California, to ensure that California election laws are followed (California Government Code §24 12172), the duly to investigate election fraud (California Government Code § 12172), and the duty to advise candidates and local elections officials on the qualifications and requirements for running for office (California Government Code § 12172).