By Associated Press - Tuesday, March 30, 2021

ATLANTA (AP) - A federal judge has ruled that Georgia’s requirements for third-party candidates seeking to run for Congressional seats are unconstitutional.

A 1943 state law requires third-party candidates to submit a petition signed by at least 5% of registered voters, a bar no third-party candidate in Georgia has ever met, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May on Monday ruled the law is “overbroad” and shuts out third-party candidates.

Bryan Sells, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told the newspaper voters deserve more choices than the two main parties.



“This ruling is going to wake people up,” Sells said. “You’re going to see a lot of candidates coming out of the woodwork to try to get on the ballot.”

May ruled that the barriers to ballot access for third-party candidates violate the First and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

“Even reasonably diligent political-body candidates who have expended considerable time and resources have failed to access Georgia’s ballots,” May wrote.

Currently, 5% of registered voters means more than 19,700 signatures. To run candidates in all of Georgia’s 14 House districts in 2020, the Libertarian Party would have needed to collect nearly 322,000 signatures and pay $73,080 in qualifying fees, May wrote.

Candidates nominated by the Republican and Democratic parties appear on the ballot automatically.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit have 21 days to submit a proposal for a new signature requirement. May will then rule on how many signatures third-party candidates need to gather to appear on future ballots.

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