Suing for My Right to Vote
On Monday, July 20, 1992 I will file a lawsuit in Federal Court to be allowed to vote in both the Democrat and Republican primary elections. The following is a copy of the lawsuit that I have prepared so far. I'll be representing myself in this suit.
The interesting think about this suit is that if I win, then the opposition, if there is an opposition, would have to appeal the case directly to the Supreme Court. Needless to say, arguing this case in front of the Supreme Court would be a most interesting experience. Although it is interesting to fantasies about it, I would give myself a 5% chance of actually pulling it off.
My biggest obstacle, the way I see it is that the judicial system is a closed system and they don't like people to participate in it unless a lawyer is involved. And a lawyer is a servant of the court and is under control of the judicial system, at least to the extent that the wish to continue to practice law for a living.
Other than that, I think my logic is sound. If the case were tried on the merits of the facts, I think I should win easily. But that's just my opinion, and opinions are like assholes, everybody has one. So here it is. You decide if this argument has merit.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI Marc Perkel, Plaintiff ) ) vs. ) No. ____________________ ) William Struckoff, Greene County Clerk ) William Webster, Attorney General ) State of Missouri ) Ron Brown, National Democratic Party ) Richard Bond, National Republican Party ) * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * STATEMENT OF CLAIM ... I, as a member of both the Republican and Democratic parties am being denied my right to vote in both primary elections. I claim that my constitutional right of suffrage to participate free and open elections is taken away by a Missouri statute that is unconstitutional. I also claim that my right of political expression on the issue of political cooperation is being impaired and that laws restricting me to one party ballot violates my right to free speech guaranteed under the first amendment of the constitution. RELIEF SOUGHT ... As a member in good standing of more than one political party, I am seeking the right to vote in the primary elections of all of the political parties for which I am a member. *===================[ B R I E F ]==========================* BEING BOTH DEMOCRAT AND REPUBLICAN ... I, Marc Perkel, am a member in good standing of both the Democratic and Republican parties. The law says that I can not vote on both the Democratic and Republican ballots even though I wish too. Therefore, my right to vote in free and open elections is being violated because I am not allowed to vote in the primary elections of the parties that I am a member of. It is my position therefore that this law is unconstitutional and incomplete and should be modified or overturned. Because of the law, I am not allowed to vote for a Democratic Senator and a Republican Governor. I shouldn't be forced to have to make that choice. The law is based on the assumption that an individual can not be a member of more than one political party; an assumption that in my case isn't valid. The law was designed to prevent people from one party raiding the election of parties that they are not a member of. In some states the individual has to register as a member of a party before they are allowed to vote in that parties primary. Those who are not members of any party are not allowed to vote in any parties primary election. In my case, I am an active member of both the Republican and Democratic parties. I attended the Democratic State convention as a Clinton delegate and I attended the Republican state convention as a guest. I am actively campaigning for candidates of both parties and have donated money to candidates, attended party functions, and donated money to the party itself. I differentiate myself from being an "Independent" because an independent is traditionally considered not to be a member of any party. I am just the opposite. I'm a member of two political parties. I have prominent members of both parties that are willing to testify in court that I am indeed a member in good standing of both parties. Under the law I would have no trouble qualifying as a member of either the Republican or Democratic party. If I explained my position to the election judge he would have no trouble giving me my choice of ballots. The real question is, are political parties mutually exclusive? Is it possible to be a member of more than one? I think it is. Historically, political parties evolved from political clubs where club members got together to promote a candidate or slate of candidates. As private organizations the parties were allowed to make their own party rules and to this day political parties are still technically private organizations. But as the party system evolved states began to regulate some party practices in regards to not allowing parties to discriminate against people on the basis of race or sex or income. Thus the state took a position that the constitution protects the rights of the individual to participate in the primary election of his party. I feel that I am a victim of discrimination on the basis of being a member of more than one political party. ARE POLITICAL PARTIES MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE? ... If you are a Democrat, does that mean you can't be a Republican? If you are a Republican does that mean you can't be a Democrat? The first task would be to see if we can define what a Democrat or a Republican is. So what are Democrats and Republicans? Well, these parties have a platform which is a set of principles that the members supposedly believe in. The theory is that to be a Republican that you believe in the Republican platform or to be a Democrat you believe in the Democratic platform. And that perhaps these platforms are so different as to be like black and white, good and evil, or the Cardinals vs. the Royals. But is this reality? No! In reality there is not that much difference in the platforms and the candidates and party members are allowed considerable leeway to deviate from the party line. There are, for instance, a lot of pro-choice Republicans as well as pro-life Democrats. And the parties allow for this. It is also acceptable, although not preferred, that party members vote a "split ticket" in the general election. Thus, party members are allowed to vote for and support candidates in more than one party without losing their membership status. The only activity that is restricted under the law is the primary ballot. And it is my contention that in comparison to the other multi-party activities that are allowed, that this is unfair. In Missouri, an individual is allowed to vote in a primary election by just saying that he is a member of a party even though he has never attended a single party event or have any knowledge what the party platform is or what the party stands for. Many voters think that party membership is a genetic trait. A person might say that he is a Democrat because his parents are Democrats. In my case, my father was a Republican and my mother a Democrat. Thus I am both. In fact, I believe that a more accurate description of the reality of elections is that there are good candidates in both parties and bad candidates in both parties. There are issues that I'm proud to support in both parties and issues that make me sick. It is also a reality that candidates from both parties are going to win elections and that we will end up with a mix of individuals from both parties. Realizing this, it is logical to conclude that if an individual is going to be most influential that one should support and be involved with the candidates he chooses and therefore create a working relationship with people from many parties. One also is more effective to learn how to work with and cooperate with a variety of elected officials in order to create positive change. Thus being a member of multiple parties is not only valid, but strategic! PARTISANISM VS. COOPERATION ... It is my political belief that partisanship is hurting our nation. Democrats and Republican are deadlocking government and that this battling over non-issues is destroying our country. Thus I oppose candidates who are positioning themselves as warriors who are going to oppose the other in favor of those candidates who position themselves as cooperating with elected officials of other parties in order to produce meaningful law for the good of everybody. It is also my belief that the Supreme Court of the United States is being used as a partisan tool to undermine the Constitution. This, in my opinion has resulted in judges being appointed to the Supreme Court based on political ideology rather than judicial qualification. This polarization of government has resulted in ridiculous laws being passed such as mandatory sentencing. Thus stripping judges of their role in tailoring punishment to fit the crimes on a case by case basis. Thus it can be said that one of my personal political issues in voting is partisanism vs. cooperation and I am squarely on the cooperation side and I support candidates that agree with me on cooperation issues. I consider my being a member of multiple political parties as a form of my political expression of my commitment to this concept. And I consider the law that prevents me from voting in the primaries of the parties for which I'm a member to be an unjustified restriction of my expression of my political views. (Political views being the highest form of free speech.) Therefore my first amendment rights are being violated because the law prevents me from exercising my right to express my political view on the issue of political cooperation between elected officials of different political parties. SHOULD I BE ALLOWED TO VOTE FOR CANDIDATES FOR THE SAME OFFICE? ... Is there a conflict, being a member of both parties, that I vote for a Republican Governor and a Democratic Governor? In the primary election, these candidates are not running for Governor, they are running to be elected party nominee for Governor. The run for Governor in the general election. Thus the election for Democratic nominee for Governor is a separate and distinct election than the one of Republican nominee for Governor. Being a member of both parties, I should be eligible to vote in both elections. That way I can vote for the best candidate in each party helping to assure that I am satisfied with whoever wins the election. IN CONCLUSION ... It is clear that the constitution protects the right of the individual to vote in the primary election of the party of his choice. There is also law that is intended to prevent people from voting in the primary of parties for which they are not members. But nowhere in the law does it address the issue of being a member of more than one party. I contend that the law is incomplete on this issue. If parties were to set rules that membership in that party is exclusive of all other parties, then I would think that these rules could be overturned on the basis of being unconstitutional. I would think that in order for a party to restrict the right to vote that they would have to demonstrate a logical basis for exclusivity that precludes the individuals right to vote. I doubt that the parties could meet this challenge. In my case I can demonstrate my membership in these two parties. I therefore ask that my right to vote in my parties primaries be recognized. SUMMARY ... 1) My right to vote for a Democrat for the Senate is precluded by my right to vote for a Republican for Governor in the primary election. 2) There is no basis in reality that being a member of one party is mutually exclusive of being members of any other party. 3) I qualify as a member of either party individually. Without the rule of mutual exclusivity, I would be a member of both parties. 4) The law preventing me from voting in the primary elections of the parties that I am a member violates my right to vote and is therefore unconstitutional. 5) The law also restricts my right of political expression to support my position that political cooperation is better than political partisanship. The law restrict my freedom of speech protected by the bill of rights. It also gives an unfair voting advantage to those who support partisan politics over those who oppose partisan politics because the law requires partisanism.
If parties are truly private political clubs then a person shouldn't vote in the primary unless they can demonstrate membership in that party or parties. Thus an independent shouldn't be allowed to vote for either Democratic or Republican primary candidates. There needs to be some form of membership established for which voters must qualify as party members. This membership can be as simple as registering with the party.
A Practical Solution
In order to not upset the public too much the election judges could allow a person to declare that he is a member of one party, but require some form of proof that a person is a member of more than one party.
Missouri Law 115.397
Voters may receive only one party ballot - voters not wishing a party ballot may vote for independents and on all other propositions and questions.
In each primary election, each voter shall be entitled to receive the ballot of one and only one political party, designated by the voter before receiving the ballot. Each voter who participates in a party primary shall be entitled to vote on all questions and for any nonpartisan candidates submitted by political subdivision and special districts at the primary election. Each voter who does not wish to participate in a party primary may vote on all questions and for any nonpartisan candidates submitted by a political subdivision or special district at the primary.
American Jurisprudence References:
Elections - Construction #184
Statutory and Constitutional provisions concerning elections will be strictly enforced to prevent fraud, but liberally construed in order to ascertain and effectuate the will of the voters, unless discrepancies are shown which prevented the full and fair expression of the voters.
Constitutional and statutory provisions #202
Constitutional provisions relating to elections are usually of a very general character with respect to the manner of voting, this being left almost wholly to statutory direction. Accordingly, the legislature, in the absence of any controlling constitutional provision, may control and regulate the ballot so long as the right of franchise is not destroyed or made so inconvenient that it is impossible to enjoy it. Where such regulations are imposed for the purpose of guarding against fraud, undue influence, and oppression, and of maintaining the secrecy of ballot, they are clearly within their legislative power, provided that they are reasonable and nondiscriminatory in their provisions and operation. The courts are inclined to take a liberal view of legislative authority in the matter particularly where the law is passed for the purpose of securing the purity of the ballot, and all doubts will be resolved in favor of that authority. Laws so designed will not be declared invalid merely because their enforcement may result in the restriction of the right to vote, although if the legislature destroys or unnecassarily impairs the right of suffrage, it's acts cannot be upheld.
Generally; constitutional and statutory provisions. #225
Elections, to be valid, must be held under authority of law and substantially as required by statutes providing therefor. However, statutes tending to limit the citizen in the exercise of the right of suffrage are construed liberally in his favor and the courts are loathe to disfranchise voters who are wholly innocent of wrongdoing.
Jurisdiction of federal court. #370
There is no doubt that the federal courts have jurisdiction of controversies concerning voting rights.
By express statutory provision, Federal District Courts have original jurisdiction of any civil action authorized by law to be commenced by any person to redress the deprivation, under color of any state law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any right, privilege, or immunity secured by the constitution of the United States or by any act of Congress providing for equal rights of citizens or of all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States. Under the terms of this statute a Federal District Court has jurisdiction of the subject matter of an action brought for a declaration that a state legislative or congressional apportionment act is unconstitutional and for an injunction restraining the holding of any further elections under the act, where it is alleged in the complaint that the effect of the act deprives the plaintiffs of equal protection of the laws by virtue of the debasement of their votes.
Articles of the Constitution
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any States on account of sex.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice-President, for electors for President or Vice-President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
As you know Ross Perot dropped out of the Presidential race ... or did he? I saw Ross on Larry King Live (07-17-92) and he was incredible! For those of you who didn't see it, let me say that Ross is by no means out of the picture. Ross came up with a better idea than running for president. I listened to his idea and it was absolutely brilliant! I can now see how he became a billionaire. Here's what happened.
Ross stated that if he continued to run that he would not be elected. The race would have gone to the House of Representatives where there are no independents there to elect him. "I'm and engineer.", he said, "I deal in facts."
He also pointed out that during his campaign he became more familiar with how the political system actually works. He realized that even if he got elected that it was questionable on how effective he could be. Thus, he concluded that, even if successful, he would not achieve the goal of turning America around.
Realizing this he devised a better plan. A vast Perot support organization had been formed. This organization could create a political force that could influence the election. It could be the swing vote to decide who will be president. Thus the "Perot Platform" would have a new life.
But, this block of voters wouldn't limit their influence to just the Presidential race. They will pick candidates to support in every House and Senate race. Perot realizes that the partisan deadlock in politics is the main factor in what is ruining this country and that in order to turn this country around we are going to have to elect a House, Senate, and President that can work together. And demonstrating the ability to work together, Democrat with Republican, is one of the tests for the endorsement of the group. And "Dirty Politics" is the opposite of cooperation and thus a reason to be excluded from the endorsement.
You can see, of course, why I like this idea. It's the same concept that I'm suing for in my lawsuit that I'm filing on Monday.
The Perot state coordinators are meeting in Dallas this weekend and the plans are being made. The idea of this is to be a "Grass Roots" party. Perot does not see himself as one of the crowd, rather than the focus. Now that he isn't a candidate, he isn't as much a target as he was, and therefore can be more effective.
"As you get closer to the problem", Perot says, "you often see that there is a better solution." I think this solution is far more broad based than merely running for one office and likely losing. Not only that, I think this new solution, if successful, has a serious chance of actually making the difference in turning this country around. And, I think that they are more likely to be successful. I want to find a way to be part of it.
The Perot people are going to put together a platform and present it to Bush and Clinton. When asked what will be the platform, Perot said that the people will decide that. The only thing he said for sure was that "Dirty Politics" was out. Then they will gauge how well all candidates running for office respond to it. When asked if this was the start of another party, Perot responded that it could be. What he wants is to try to make the two party system work like it should. He said that he though that the parties can be fixed once the voters have a voice again. But if it can't then it can be converted to a third party. And, Perot still wants to get his name on the ballot of all 50 states so that if neither party gives them what they want then his name is still there.
When pressed on the idea that he might still get elected, he admitted that it was possible, but if he did that it represented a failure to achieve the goal of turning the political system around.
My wife and I stopped in at the local Perot headquarters today while shopping for a new stereo and signed the petition to put Ross Perot on the ballot.
Perot and Change
Perot and his supporters have said that they are the movement for change. Perot proved it this weekend when he completely changed the course of his campaign. So the first party that is going to have to get used to change is Perot's own party. I see it as an opportunity for Perot's own people to experience change first hand. The way I see it, if you are serious about change then you should embrace the opportunity to make changes to take advantages of opportunities as they come up. The thing to always remember is that change is our friend.
Ross Perot is a self made billionaire. Being a self made entrepreneur myself I've had a glimpse of what it takes to succeed. There are key moments of chance that are passing us by all the time. Moments that can create enormous benefits. The difference between ordinary people and self made billionaires is that these billionaires learn to identify these moments of chance and have the courage to make the chances necessary to take advantage of them. And I can tell you that identifying moments of chance is easier than making the changes to take advantage of them.
"So Marc" you might ask, "are you saying that I can become a billionaire if I learned 'the change thing'?" Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. Be unconventional! Take a "Walk on the Wild Side". Break out of the rut! Rise above the herd!
How Will Perot Affect the Election Now?
Perot didn't put forward a party platform yet. He is leaving it up to his people. But he did state 2 planks of that platform:
Clinton has run a clean campaign. He has avoided all forms of personal attacks on his opponent. He has attacked his opponents on their history in office and the positions they support, which in my opinion is fair. Clinton has avoided participating in rumors against other candidates such as the time when Jerry Brown was accused of having drug parties at his house. Clinton wouldn't touch it.
Clinton also avoided attacking Perot during the time it was a three way race for the president. The worst thing Clinton said about Perot was that it wasn't going to be as easy as he thinks it is and that Perot was naive about how the system works. As it turned out, Perot learned Clinton was right.
On the other hand we have the campaign of Bush who is running a Willie Horton style campaign. Bush has attacked Perot in very dirty ways and went to a great effort to define Perot as someone who investigates everybody. Which is an interesting accusation considering that Bush used to be head of the CIA.
George Bush's idea about getting in on the "Change Thing" is to say that he could have change if the Congress were Republican. Thus, Perot plank #2 requiring candidates to be bipartisan is not compatible with Bush's position.
For Bush to get the Perot endorsement he would have to give up dirty politics and partisanship, which is presently the basis of his campaign. It would take a 180 degree turn around for the Republican party to even begin to compete with where the Democrats are now.
Perot hasn't endorsed either party. His plan "is to put enormous pressure on the system" to see if he can change both parties and make the two party system work again. In other words, he is going to give both parties and candidates of both parties the opportunity to change. And, as we all know, the opportunity for change is a blessing.
As a member of both parties I will now speak as a Republican. As a member of the Republican party I see that my party is especially blessed with the opportunity for change. My party is engaging in dirty politics in a way that is very destructive to the country. If my party were to shun dirty politics then this would be a message to the county that we Republicans were serious about change. We need to get back to the basic values that we as Republicans believe in. Values like honesty, keeping the government out of peoples personal lives, and defending the constitutional rights of our citizens.
Our Republican party has sold out to the so called "religious right". We try to impose a false morality on the public that says that it is all right to steal and cheat, but sex is evil. We are a party of bigots as we look down our noses at the week and helpless. We are intolerant of the diverse factions of our society and the diverse cultural background from which we came.
We Republicans are in a very awkward position. We we continue personal attacks against our opponents then we will lose the Perot supporters vote. We can no longer blame the Democrats in Congress and run on the basis that we can not work with the Democrats and must have a Republican Congress to work with. We are going to have to decide that we are either going to go along with the Perot supporters any make the reasonable changes they demand, or write them off and oppose them and take our chances with a traditional dirty campaign.
Now, speaking as a Democrat, I see that we too are blessed with the opportunity for change. Our party is infected with special interest groups that are leaches and sucking the life out of America. The Democratic party is the party of lazy government workers and the unions who want to soak the American public under the protection of law. We have to pander to the fringe at the expense of hard working middle America. We seem to think that the businessmen who create our jobs are some form of "Golden Sow" that we can milk dry. We are the party of the NEA who has bleed our schools dry and created an environment where a good teacher would not want to teach.
When we think of Democrats we think of Mail carriers that make $40,000+ a year and can't deliver the mail. We think of Detroit auto workers making Chevy Vegas (a car that only lasted 50,000 miles). As a Democrat, I see the Perot vote as an opportunity to move back to the support of the people instead of having to rely on special interest groups to fund our political base. The Perot support can give us the power to stand up to our own party insiders to create the change our country needs.
Speaking now as a Perotee (from the word Devotee which is a Kare Krisna disciple), I presently see the Democrats as being closer to what I want to see. But are they close enough? Not yet. I want to see if Clinton means what he says or is it all "Just Talk"? I want to see if he is willing to say no to the special interests in his party in exchange for my support.
I also want to give Bush a chance to change and respond to our conditions. I want to see if the Republicans are serious about the opportunity to change. I want to see what Republican candidates can show a commitment to being able to work with Democrats in a bipartisan way to solve the problems of our country. I want candidates that do more than just say what I want to hear. I want candidates that will do what I want them to do.
The way I see it is that the Democrats and Bill Clinton are way ahead of the game on courting the Perot vote. As a Republican I think we need to get serious about change fast or whe can kiss this election season goodby.
May I Suggest a Stratedgy
This is a message to Ross Perot and his supporters. You are trying to
make the two party system work be creating pressure for change. I would
like to suggest that you create that pressure from the inside as well as
the outside. I am filing the above lawsuit to support my right to be a
member of more than one political party.
Ross Perot made it clear that he wanted to elect people from both parties that are capable of working together. Thus it would seem logical that we Perotees should set the example of nonpartisanism by being members of both the Democratic and Republican parties and work for positive change within both camps. I hope that my lawsuit will open the door so that every American can enjoy this form of political expression.
I think that every Perotee, if you want to be serious about fixing the two party system, should join both parties and work to make both of them better.