In a recent decision, Block v. Mollis, Judge William E. Smith ruled that part of our State’s election law is unconstitutional.
In a case brought by the Moderate Party of RI and its representative, Kenneth Block, Judge Smith held valid the RI law requiring that a third-party obtain signatures equal to 5% of the voter turnout in the previous election. Judge Smith, however, held unconstitutional the provision of the law that requires the political party to wait until January 1 of the election year to obtain the signatures they need to get on the State ballot.
The ruling eases some of Rhode Island’s ballot access laws which are among the toughest in the country. The moderate party website includes a graph indicating just how tough it is to get on the ballot in Rhode Island (i.e. only three States in the country require signatures equal to 5% of the prior voter turnout.)
This is a victory for anyone who desires a more open electoral process, including smaller political parties. While such parties will still need to obtain a great number of signatures, they will have a longer period of time to obtain them.