The Reform Party’s Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, whose name will appear on the ballot in twenty states on Tuesday and is waging write-in campaigns in more than a dozen other states, filed an emergency writ of mandamus against California’s Secretary of State late yesterday demanding inclusion as a write-in candidate in that state.
De La Fuente, a San Diego real estate developer, had filed the necessary documentation in a timely fashion and only learned of his exclusion when his name failed to appear on the Secretary of State’s website listing of write-in candidates. He had not been informed by the state prior to that.
Along with all of the other necessary documentation, the 62-year-old De La Fuente had 57 notarized elector forms filed on October 10th, two more than the required number of 55 electors, and filed that paperwork fifteen days in advance of the state’s October 25th deadline. In a routine check of the Secretary of State’s website on October 28th when the list was first published, De La Fuente discovered that his name was not included.
“I immediately contacted the Secretary of State’s office and demanded to know why, and I was told that seven electors didn’t provide correct information,” said the soft-spoken De La Fuente. “I know every one of them and can confirm that the information they provided was accurate.”
De La Fuente then received a letter on November 2nd from Steven J. Reyes, Chief Counsel of the Secretary of State’s office, stating that the the Secretary of State’s office certified the list of official write-in candidates on October 25th and had no intention of providing the third-party candidate with an opportunity to correct the situation.
“I have two problems with that,” De La Fuente continued. “First, there were no defects, and second, the state had fifteen days to inform me before the deadline passed but chose not to.”
Reye’s letter framed the basis of rejection as “No registration record found with address provided on declaration” for six of the individuals and “No registration record found” for the other.Ballot access expert Richard Winger, the longtime publisher of Ballot Access News and one of the country’s leading election law experts, challenged the state’s position in an article on his website.
“None of the election code references in the letter say anything about whether elector candidates must be registered voters,” wrote Winger, who has spent a lifetime fighting for the interests of the country’s independent and minor-party candidates. “Section 8651 says a write-in declaration of candidacy must include the name, address, an oath supporting the Constitution, the date of the general election, and the name of the presidential candidate,” continued Winger. “Section 8652 consists solely of the write-in deadline. Section 349 defines ‘residence’ and ‘domicile’ but says nothing about registration.” De La Fuente’s writ of mandamus makes the same argument.
“The California Secretary of State has accepted the Republican presidential elector list, even though one of the Republican electors, Arun Bhumitra, holds a position with the federal government and Article II of the U.S. Constitution does not permit electors to work for the federal government,” continued Winger, adding that the Republican Party of California didn’t bother to submit any alternate elector candidates, which would suggest that the GOP slate of presidential electors was insufficient.
“Other parties included electors who don’t even live in California and cannot be registered in the state if that was actually required,” noted De La Fuente. “For example, the American Independent Party has approved electors from New York, Virginia and North Carolina. You have to wonder why I’m being singled out,” said the first-generation Mexican American candidate for the nation’s highest office.
It does seem rather strange that he’s being subjected to a different standard than some of the other presidential candidates whose electors apparently didn’t receive this kind of scrutiny. “America’s Forgotten Candidate” seems to get no respect.
The feisty third-party candidate, of course, is no stranger to election irregularities and makes the rather compelling claim that he had been the victim of election fraud and other forms of manipulation when he sought the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this year — an experience that contributed in no small measure to his decision to continue seeking the presidency outside the two-party establishment.
Though largely ignored by the media, De La Fuente is focusing his autumn campaign on desperately-needed election reform and vows to continue fighting for the cause of fair and open politics beyond Tuesday’s election.
De La Fuente will be on the ballot as the nominee of Ross Perot’s once-vibrant Reform Party in the crucial battleground state of Florida and will appear on the ballot in thirteen states as the nominee of the recently-created American Delta Party. He’ll also be listed as an independent in a half-dozen other states.