On August 9, 2016, Arkansas Director of Elections Leslie Bellamy wrote a letter to Rocky De La Fuente, saying Arkansas Code 7-7-204 states that “a person who files as a candidate for nomination by a political party shall not be eligible to be an independent candidate for the same office at the general election.”
However, this law was in the election code in 1992, and Arkansas let Lyndon LaRouche on the ballot as an independent candidate for President that year, even though he had run in the Arkansas Democratic presidential primary. LaRouche received 14,656 votes in the May 26, 1992 Arkansas Democratic primary. In November 1992 he received 830 votes as an independent presidential candidate in Arkansas.
The Arkansas “sore loser” law existed in 1992. It was then in section 3-105, and said, “A person who has been defeated in a party primary shall not be permitted to file as an independent candidate in the general election for the office for which he was defeated in a party primary.”
Furthermore, for Arkansas to ignore its 1992 precedent and apply the sore loser law to presidential candidates undermines the Arkansas rationale for not allowing write-in votes for President in the general election. Arkansas law 7-5-205 says, “Write-in candidates’ votes – when counted. No votes for write-in candidates in general elections shall be counted or tabulated unless the candidate or his agent shall notify in writing the county board of election commissioners and either the Secretary of State, if a state or district candidate, or a county clerk, if a candidate for a county or township office, of his intention to be a write-in candidate not later than 90 days before the election day.”
Despite that clear law, Arkansas for the last 15 years has interpreted the write-in filing law not to apply to presidential write-ins (even though presidential write-ins were tallied in 1972 for John Schmitz and in 1976 for Eugene McCarthy) because the write-in law is not incorporated into the chapter on presidential elections. But the “sore loser” law also isn’t inside the chapter on presidential elections. Under the Secretary of State’s interpretation of the write-in law, the “sore loser” law, which is also not inside the presidential chapter, doesn’t apply to presidential elections.
Posted on August 26, 2016 by Richard Winger