STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN SUPREME COURT
Mary Kiffmeyer, Secretary
of State of
September 14, 2006
of Appellate Courts
L L A B U S
Minnesota law bars a candidate for elective
office from filing additional signatures on a nominating petition after 5 p.m.
on the last day for filing for elective office, and also bars filing additional
signatures on a petition filed in place of the required filing fee after said
time and date.
Heard, considered, and decided by
the court en banc.
I N I O N
By a letter dated July 21, 2006, the
office of Secretary of State Mary
Kiffmeyer notified petitioner, Peter I. Idusogie, that his nominating petition
for the office of United States Senator from Minnesota lacked the number of signatures “required
by law.” After receiving this letter, Idusogie
filed a petition with our court under Minn. Stat. § 204B.44 (2004) requesting
an order directing the secretary of state to place his name on the ballot for
the September 12, 2006 primary election, and the November 7, 2006 general
election. Idusogie alleges in his
petition that the secretary of state wrongly rejected his nominating petition
and wrongly prevented him from filing additional signatures in support of his
candidacy. This opinion confirms our
order filed on August 22, 2006, denying Idusogie’s petition.
Candidates for elective office in
Minnesota must file with
the secretary of state an affidavit of candidacy under Minn. Stat. §§ 204B.03 and
204B.06 (2004). In addition, candidates
seeking the nomination of a “minor” political party and candidates running
independently of any political party must file a “nominating” petition.
Stat. § 204B.03. The requirements
for a nominating petition are set forth in Minn. Stat. §§ 204B.07 and
204B.08 (2004). Pertinent to this case
is the requirement that the number of signatures on a nominating petition for
United States Senator be “one percent of the total number of individuals voting
in the state at the last preceding state general election, or 2,000, whichever
is less.” Minn. Stat. § 204B.08, subd. 3(a)
(2004). Minnesota Statutes § 204B.08,
subd. 1 (2004), further requires that nominating petitions “shall be signed
during the period when petitions may be filed as provided in section 204B.09,”
that is, during the 14-day filing period, between the 70th and the 56th day
before the day of the state primary election.
§ 204B.09, subd. 1 (2004).
On July 18, 2006, Idusogie filed
with the secretary of state an affidavit of candidacy for United States Senator,
together with a nominating petition bearing approximately 1,000 signatures. Idusogie also sought to use his nominating
petition in place of the $400 filing fee required under Minn. Stat. § 204B.11,
subd. 1(b) (2004), as is permitted under Minn. Stat. § 204B.11, subd. 2 (2004).
It is undisputed that Idusogie’s nominating
petition bore far fewer than the 2,000 signatures required to nominate Idusogie
for the office of United States Senator or the 2,000 signatures required under
Minn. Stat. § 204B.11, subd. 2(a) (2004), on a petition in place of the filing
asserts he should be permitted to add additional signatures to his nominating
petition because there is no set time limit for obtaining signatures on
petitions filed in place of the required filing fee under Minn. Stat. §
204B.11, subd. 2. We reject Idusogie’s argument
for three reasons. First, Minn. Stat. § 204B.08,
subd. 1, unequivocally requires that nominating petitions be signed during the
14-day filing period, which in 2006 ran from July 4 to July 18. As a result, section 204B.08 bars Idusogie from
using signatures gathered after the end of the filing period to satisfy the
requirements of a nominating petition. Second, Minn. Stat. § 204B.09, subd. 1(c)
(2004), unequivocally bars the secretary of state from accepting a petition
after 5 p.m. on the last day of filing for elective office. As a result, even if Idusogie had additional
signatures obtained during the filing period, section 204B.08 bars the
secretary of state from accepting those signatures after 5 p.m. on the last day
of filing, whether they are considered signatures on a nominating petition or a
petition in place of the filing fee. Finally,
although Minn. Stat. § 204B.11, subd. 2, allows an independent candidate
like Idusogie to use his nominating petition as a petition in place of the
filing fee, nothing in chapter 204B allows a candidate to use the petition in
place of the filing fee as a nominating petition.
Idusogie also asks us to declare
unconstitutional the laws governing nominating petitions for candidates who do
not seek the nomination of a major political party. Because Idusogie’s request may implicate both
the guarantee of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment and the right
of association under the First Amendment, we will address his claim under both
claim could be construed to assert that Minn. Stat. §§ 204B.04 and 204B.08
(2004) are unconstitutional because they infringe upon his equal protection
rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by imposing a burden on him not also
imposed on candidates seeking the nomination of major political parties. But we conclude that we need not reach
Idusogie’s equal protection claim because, contrary to Idusogie’s argument,
Minn. Stat. § 204B.09 (2004) imposes the same filing deadlines on all
candidates, and Minn. Stat. § 204B.09, subd. 1(c), bars the secretary of
state from accepting late petitions and affidavits from all candidates, whether
they seek the nomination of major political parties, minor political parties,
or run as independent candidates.
Idusogie’s argument could also be
construed as a claim that the requirements of a nominating petition violate his
First Amendment right of association. We
note that the United States Supreme Court has recognized the interest of the
state in regulating the number of candidates on the ballot to avoid undue voter
confusion. Am. Party of Texas v. White, 415 U.S.
767, 782 n.14 (1974). As a result, the
Court has recognized the right of the state to require “some preliminary
showing of a significant modicum of support” before putting a candidate’s name
on the ballot. Jenness v. Fortson, 403 U.S. 431, 442 (1971). In light of the foregoing case law and for reasons
similar to those addressed in Idusogie’s equal protection claim, we conclude
that under the facts and circumstances of this case, we need not address this
issue because Idusogie has failed to articulate a colorable claim that his First
Amendment right of association has been violated.
the foregoing reasons, we conclude that under Minnesota law a candidate for elective
office may not file additional signatures for a nominating petition and/or a petition
filed in place of the required filing fee after 5 p.m. on the last day for
filing for elective office. Therefore, we
hold that the secretary of state properly rejected Idusogie’s nominating
petition because it lacked the number of signatures required under Minn. Stat.
§ 204B.08, subd. 3(a).