A federal appeals court ruled against a group of Socialists in Michigan this week, rejecting claims that the state’s election laws discriminated against new parties.
Matt Erard, a 29-year-old Socialist from Detroit, filed a lawsuit against the state in July arguing that the election laws were too strict and stunted the growth of new parties. The case was rejected by U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy, a decision that was upheld this week.
In his challenge, Erard wrote that Michigan’s laws were unfair to new parties because “the number of signatures is approximately twice the number of votes for an old party to remain on.” He also took aim at the language of the state’s candidate petitions, which he said “discourages voters from signing.”
Newly formed political parties must submit 32,261 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot in Michigan. Erard fell short by 31,075 votes.
The party also challenged Michigan’s ballot access laws in 2010, citing similar concerns. The group claims that Michigan and Kansas are the only states in which new parties must submit more signatures than existing parties.
Michigan’s Socialist Party was first formed in 1901, though it has been reenergized in the last decade. The party has run candidates in multiple statewide elections since 2004, though none have been successful.
The Socialist National Committee has endorsed three candidates in elections this fall, including Adam Adrianson, who is running for the Michigan State University Board of Trustees.
The Socialist party earned a boost in 2013, when an Occupy Seattle activist and economics professor named Kshama Sawant won a seat on the city council.
Sawant said then that her election – which made headlines nationally as she vowed a $15 minimum wage – proved that the “socialist label is not a bad one.”