The Potluck

Marijuana legalization party calls for ballot access law reform

By: - April 27, 2022 2:51 pm

The Minnesota State Capitol. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

A marijuana legalization party is calling for changes to Minnesota’s candidate ballot access law ahead of the 2022 election, a move they say would prevent deceitful or frivolous campaigns appearing on ballots.

The Grassroots Legalize Cannabis Party wants all candidates for state office to be required to gather voter signatures in order to get their names on the ballot, which major party candidates don’t have to do. The proposal comes in response to the 2020 election, when a number of people with GOP ties filed to run as candidates with the state’s two major pro-legalization parties — in some cases, to siphon votes away from the DFL.

“It takes some work to qualify by this (petition) method, the kind of work that would help deter spoiler candidates intent on mischief,” the party said in a news release.

Marijuana legalization candidates may have played a significant role in key races in Minnesota during the last election, potentially aiding U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s reelection and helping Republicans maintain control of the state Senate.

Several of them admitted to involvement with the GOP — including a Senate candidate in northeastern Minnesota who told the Reformer she was recruited to run on the marijuana ticket by a Republican. 

To appear on the ballot, major party candidates have to confirm they’re eligible for office and that they either participated in the party’s most recent caucuses or intend to vote for a majority of that party’s candidates. 

The Grassroots Legalize Marijuana Party alleges eight candidates — two who ran on their party ticket, six who filed with Legal Marijuana Now — falsely claimed they’d attended party caucuses in their candidate filings. There is no recourse for candidates who are dishonest about their party affiliations, the party says. 

Minor party candidates are required to collect voter signatures — 10% of the number of voters who participated in the last district election, or 500 total, whichever is less — to get their names on the ballot. Major party candidates can pay a fee to skip the petition. 

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.