Request for Documents From Democratic National Party...

Although they aren't officially a public, governmental agency, I thought I would make a document request under the state open records act, and see what response I got. There is precedent for a private, non-profit organization being compelled to release information of this nature, so I would encourage anyone and everyone interested in this topic to send a similar request to the DNC:

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Justin W. Riggs
(my personal information)

December 31, 2008

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY
Alice Travis Germond
Democratic National Committee
430 South Capitol Street SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
Phone: 202-863-8000
germonda@dnc.org


RECORDS REQUEST

Dear Records Request Officer:

Pursuant to the state open records act, I request access to and copies of any and all documents used to determine the eligibility of Barack Obama to serve as President of the United States under the provisions of the Constitution of the United States of America and the Democratic Party's 2008 Delegate Selection Plan in the 2008 primaries and general election. While the DNC Services Corporation is a private, non-profit organization, several courts have held that such organizations fall under the jurisdiction of their respective state open records acts, particularly when they are performing a government function or are functionally a government agency (see Gannon and Nichols v. The Board of Regents of the State of Iowa and Kimberly Kay Allen v. John Day for examples of these types of rulings). I therefore request that this request be granted in all due haste.

Because this request is for public, non-commercial use, I request that any fee be waived. If a fee is required, please contact me at this email address (juriggs@yahoo.com) with the amount, at which time I will decide to pursue or cancel my request.

If my request is denied in whole or part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I would also remind you that the act stipulates that you respond to this request in a timely fashion. I request that the document be mailed either electronically (a readable scan of the documents is sufficient) or through the postal service, no later than noon, January 7th. If this is not possible, please contact me at this email address (juriggs@yahoo.com) with a time and a date by which I can expect to receive the documents.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner

John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi signed the Hawaii Certification of Nominations. I wrote them through their Congressional offices.

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On the 4th of September, 2008, Mr. Boehner signed a document that was submitted to Hawaiian government officials stating that John McCain met the Constitutional requirements for holding the office of President. I am doing a research project on this topic, and was wondering what evidence Mr. Boehner was presented with that allowed him to make this determination of eligibility.

Thanks for your help!

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On the 28th of August, 2008, Ms. Pelosi signed a document that was submitted to Hawaiian government officials stating that Barack Obama was legally qualified to hold the office of President under the provisions of the Constitution. I am doing a research project on this topic, and was wondering what evidence Ms. Pelosi was presented with that allowed her to make this determination of eligibility.

Thanks for your help!

Willes K. Lee, Chairman of the Hawaii Republic State Party

Mr. Lee,

Hi! My name is Justin Riggs, and I'm writing you from Denver, Colorado, mainland USA. I've been working on a research project for about a month now, and am hoping that you might be able to help me put one more piece of the puzzle together.

My project has centered around how presidential candidates gain access to the general election ballot in various states. Over the past month, I've contacted nearly every Secretary of State's office in the country, and been lucky enough to receive answers to my questions from nearly all of them. Hawaii has been my latest project, and I'm contacting you because your name was on one of the documents sent to me by Kevin Cronin, the Chief Election Officer in the Office of Elections of Hawaii.

As you may or may not know, Hawaii is a bit different than most other states in that it requires the political party of the candidate to declare that the candidate is legally qualified to serve as President under the provisions of the Constitution. Where I'm hoping you can help me is in providing me with a small description of how you and the Hawaii state parties determine whether or not the candidate meets this criteria. I'm particulary interested in knowing what documentation the candidate is required to provide to you so that you can make a determination regarding their eligibility under the provisions of the Constitution.

I want to thank you in advance for your time, and sincerely wish you a happy holiday season. I look forward to your response, and hope that you might be able to help me finish off my research project strong!

Thanks again,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Jean Inman, Secretary of the Republican National Committee

Ms. Inman,

Hi! My name is Justin Riggs, and I'm writing you from Denver, Colorado. I've been working on a research project for about a month now, and am hoping that you might be able to help me put one more piece of the puzzle together.

My project has centered around how presidential candidates gain access to the general election ballot in various states. Over the past month, I've contacted nearly every Secretary of State's office in the country, and been lucky enough to receive answers to my questions from nearly all of them. Hawaii has been my latest project, and I'm contacting you because your name was on one of the documents sent to me by Kevin Cronin, the Chief Election Officer in the Office of Elections of Hawaii.

As you may or may not know, Hawaii is a bit different than most other states in that it requires the political party of the candidate to declare that the candidate is legally qualified to serve as President under the provisions of the Constitution. Where I'm hoping you can help me is in providing me with a small description of how the Republican Party determines that their candidate meets this criteria.

Also, it is my understanding that your office is responsible for retaining all official materials for the party, as well as sending them to the National Archives for preservation. I've been to the National Archives website, and found it quite difficult to navigate! I was wondering if you might be able to point me in the right direction in terms of where I might find the documents you've sent to the archives that are related to the 2008 presidential election.

I want to thank you in advance for your time, and sincerely wish you a happy holiday season. I look forward to your response, and hope that you might be able to help me finish off my research project strong!

Thanks again,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Lynne Matusow, Secretary of the Hawaiian Democratic Party

Ms. Matusow,

Hi! My name is Justin Riggs, and I'm writing you from Denver, Colorado, mainland USA. I've been working on a research project for about a month now, and am hoping that you might be able to help me put one more piece of the puzzle together.

My project has centered around how presidential candidates gain access to the general election ballot in various states. Over the past month, I've contacted nearly every Secretary of State's office in the country, and been lucky enough to receive answers to my questions from nearly all of them. Hawaii has been my latest project, and I'm contacting you because your name was on one of the documents sent to me by Kevin Cronin, the Chief Election Officer in the Office of Elections of Hawaii.

As you may or may not know, Hawaii is a bit different than most other states in that it requires the political party of the candidate to declare that the candidate is legally qualified to serve as President under the provisions of the Constitution.
Where I'm hoping you can help me is in providing me with a small description of how you and the Hawaii state parties determine whether or not the candidate meets this criteria.

I want to thank you in advance for your time, and sincerely wish you a happy holiday season. I look forward to your response, and hope that you might be able to help me finish off my research project strong!

Thanks again,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Alice Germond, Secretary of the Democratic National Committee

Alice Travis Germond's signature was on the documents sent to me by Hawaii. I wanted to write her a letter that was slightly less formal then the others I've sent, as my previous style hasn't been providing the results I'd like. Below is the letter I sent to Ms. Germond...

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Ms. Germond,

Hi! My name is Justin Riggs, and I'm writing you from Denver, Colorado. I've been working on a research project for about a month now, and am hoping that you might be able to help me put one more piece of the puzzle together.

My project has centered around how presidential candidates gain access to the general election ballot in various states. Over the past month, I've contacted nearly every Secretary of State's office in the country, and been lucky enough to receive answers to my questions from nearly all of them. Hawaii has been my latest project, and I'm contacting you because your name was on one of the documents sent to me by Kevin Cronin, the Chief Election Officer in the Office of Elections of Hawaii.

As you may or may not know, Hawaii is a bit different than most other states in that it requires the political party of the candidate to declare that the candidate is legally qualified to serve as President under the provisions of the Constitution. Where I'm hoping you can help me is in providing me with a small description of how the Democratic Party determines that their candidate meets this criteria.

Also, it is my understanding that the Office of the Secretary is responsible for retaining all official materials for the party, as well as sending them to the National Archives for preservation. I've been to the National Archives website, and found it quite difficult to navigate! I was wondering if you might be able to point me in the right direction in terms of where I might find the documents you've sent to the archives that are related to the 2008 presidential election.

I want to thank you in advance for your time, and sincerely wish you a happy holiday season. I look forward to your response, and hope that you might be able to help me finish off my research project strong!

Thanks again,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Christmas Break...

I'm going to take a Christmas break from my activities here at yourfellowcitizen.com.

I've sent off Christmas wishes to all the folks at the DNC and RNC, and even to Hawaiian state party officials, and I'll report back once the holidays are over (hopefully I don't get a lump of coal!).

In the meantime, enjoy the season...

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Hawaii Answers TWO of My Questions

Today was a landmark day in my search. Hawaii has answered two of the questions I originally asked.

1) WHO was responsible for ensuring that our presidential candidate's were eligible?

For the Republicans, the answer to that question is 1) John Boehner, Chairman of the Republican National Convention, 2) Jean A. Inman, Secretary of the Republican National Convention, and 3) Willes K. Lee, Chairman of the Republican Party of Hawaii.

For the Democrats, it was 1) Nancy Pelosi, Chair of the Democratic National Convention, 2) Alice Travis Germond, Secretary of the Democratic National Convention 3) Brian E. Schatz, Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, and 4) Lynne Matusow, Secretary of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

2) WHEN was the final determination regarding the presidential candidates eligibility made?

For the Republicans, the date was September 4th, 2008.

For the Democrats, the date was the 28th of August.

This only leaves us with one final question to answer:

3) WHAT EVIDENCE did the candidates provide to the above named officials which allowed a determination of eligibility to be made? At least we know who to ask!

I've attached the documents for you to review, and wish to express again my thanks for Hawaiian officials, who have been more than helpful during my correspondence with them.

Hawaii - Dems and Repubs Say Constitutionally Eligible

A Surprise From the Liberterian Party...

I haven't had any luck getting the two major parties to respond to my calls and emails, so today I decided to try the minor parties. One, the Libertarian Party, responded almost immediately to my request for information. What they told me boldly highlighted the problem with our current system. First, the correspondence:

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Dear Sir/Madam, According to my Secretary of State's office, it is the responsibility of the party to ensure that its candidates are qualified to hold the office for which they run. I'm doing a research project on how different parties go about fulfilling this obligation. Specifically, I was wondering:

1) How did your organization ensure that Mr. (redacted - I first got the candidate's name wrong) was eligible to hold the office of President, should he have been elected?

2) When did the qualification process take place, and was there a particular date when he was "declared" to be eligible?

3) What evidence was your candidate required to present to the party in order to prove that he is Constitutionally eligible to hold office? I thank you for your time, and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

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The response:

There was no question as to Congressman Barr’s eligibility, so we went on good faith that he was Constitutionally qualified.

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If you'll remember, the Colorado Secretary of State's office explicitly stated that the legal responsibility for ensuring that a candidate is qualified falls to the candidate's party; yet here we have a concrete example of a party who performed no check on their candidate, proceeding on "good faith" because "there was no question" about their candidate's eligibility. I don' t think I need to point out the more obvious problems with this scenario. In fact, I don't know that I need to say anything at all - the problems are so glaringly obvious that they speak for themselves.

Hawaii Response

It seems I requested the wrong documents from Hawaii - a pattern that has emerged over these last few states. Luckily, Hawaiian officials were kind enough to write me a personalized letter pointing me in the right direction. As I have no way to post it here, I'll include what I consider to be the most pertinent information:

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HRS 11-113(Presidential Ballots) provides that a recognized political party will provide the Office of Elections with the following information prior to placing the names of its candidates for President and Vice President on the presidential ballot:

(1) the names and addresses of its candidates
(2) a statement by the political party that each candidate is legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution, and
(3) a statement that the candidates are duly chosen candidates of both the state and the national party.

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I'll be requesting the document referred to in (2) tomorrow morning.

The Final Word From Ohio

Ms. Seskes,

I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for your assistance. I'm sorry I wasn't able to understand the Presidential Guide well enough to save you some time and effort.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and a happy 2009!

Justin

--- On Wed, 12/17/08, Seskes, Brandi wrote:
From: Seskes, Brandi Subject: FW: Public Records RequestTo: juriggs@yahoo.comDate: Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 2:10 PM
Dear Mr. Riggs,

Attached is a copy of Form 1-A and 1-B filed by John McCain. Senator McCain was the only candidate to file under the matching funds method and submit either a Form 1-A or 1-B with this office.

Please let me know if you need anything further or if you have any trouble opening the attachments.

Sincerely,
Brandi

Virginia

I received a short response from the Virginia Secretary of State's office today. I'll need to follow up, as I'm not sure I understand the relevant statutes referenced in the email.

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Dear Sir/Madam,

In the Code of Virginia, § 24.2-519 states that:

In order to qualify as a candidate at any primary, a person must be legally qualified to hold the office for which he is a candidate and be qualified to vote in the primary in which he seeks to be a candidate.

In order to meet the requirements of this statute, it is clear that somebody from the state of Virginia must check the legal qualifications of the person seeking to become a candidate. My question is: Who is this person? When does he/she/they check the qualifications of the candidates? What evidence is required from the candidates in order to make a determination that they are legally qualified to hold office?

My particular concern is specific to the 2008 Presidential primary. Both John McCain and Barack Obama were placed on the ballot, and as far as I can determine, no one checked to ensure that they were legally qualified to hold the office for which they were a candidate. If I am mistaken, could you please provide me with the following information: a) Who was legally responsible for making sure that the candidates were legally qualified to hold the office they were running for, and therefore eligible to qualify as a candidate on your primary ballot? b) When was the determination made that these candidates were eligible to be placed on the ballot? c) What documentary evidence was presented by the candidates to the state that proved that they were legally qualified to hold the office which they sought?

I thank you for your time and attention to these important questions, and respectfully request that you respond before 5:00 pm EST, Friday December 12th. If this will not be possible, please respond to this message with a time and a date that I might expect a response from this office.

Thank you again,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

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Please see Va. Code § 24.2-545 regarding the presidential primary. You can access election laws through our website under that heading at the top:
http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/cms/


If you still have questions, you may call me this Thursday or next Monday.


Martha B. Brissette
Staff Attorney
Virginia State Board of Elections
200 N. 9th St. #925
Richmond, VA 23219
804.864.8925
Toll free 800. 552.9745

Illinois - It's Our Responsibility

I had a very interesting and enlightening correspondence with Kay Walker from the Illinois Secretary of State's office this morning. The conversation ended with a phone call, in which I had something of an epiphany. Ms. Walker was explaining to me that it isn't the job of the SoS to verify candidate eligibility, but that it was his job to remove a candidate whose qualifications had been challenged and found lacking. All of a sudden I realized that the critical piece in the puzzle was the citizen who challenged the candidate's qualifications in the first place. It really isn't the job of the Secretary of State to check these qualifications. It's our job, as American citizens, to be wary of the candidates who seek to represent us, and, if we feel so inclined, to force them to provide their credentials. We as a people have perhaps become a bit complacent in exercising our rights and duties as citizens of this country.

Nearly every state I've researched has laws that allow a citizen to challenge the credentials of any candidate on the ballot. Instead of pointing our fingers at our leaders, perhaps we would be better served by educating ourselves on the avenues available to us in this fine democracy of ours.

For those interested, here is a copy of the written correspondence between Ms. Walker and I.

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Dear Sir/Madam,

In reviewing the Illinois Election Code, I was unable to ascertain who is responsible for ensuring that the candidates for U.S. Senator are qualified to hold office. Could you please provide me with the following information:

1) Who is responsible for checking candidates for U.S. Senator qualifications.
2) When the qualification process takes place.
3) What evidence is provided by the candidate that allows a determination of eligibility to be made.

I thank you for your time and attention to this matter..

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

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It is up to a registered voter in the district to file an objection against a candidate that has filed a petitions. We accept all petitions that are filed with us. If you need more information on objections you can contact our legal department at 217/782-0608.

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Ms. Walker,

No, I'm not interested in filing an objection against a candidate - what I'm looking for is information regarding what paperwork a Senatorial candidate must file in order to be placed upon the ballot, and who determines whether or not the candidate is eligible to run for office in your state.
For example, when I asked this same type of question to the Oregon Secretary of State, their response was:

"The Secretary of State is the elections filing officer for U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator; statewide candidates, such as Secretary of State, State Treasurer and Attorney General, as well as statewide judicial, and for other state candidates for State Representative, State Senate, Circuit Court judges and District Attorney. For the Primary Election and General Election there is a listing of candidates on our website, www.sos.state.or.us -select Elections Division, then Candidates. For each of the candidates listed from U.S. Senator down through District Attorney, there would be in the original file a form the candidate signed and copies of the county verification paperwork that answers the voter registration and residency question for each candidate. For copies of these documents,we would need to follow our public records request process."

Is there a similar process in Illinois, whereby I might be able to make a document request under the state open records act, and obtain filing papers from Senatorial candidates?

I thank you in advance for your time, and for your prompt reply to my last message. It is much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

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In Illinois a candidate has to file petitions, statement of candidacy, loyalty oath (optional) and a statement of economic interest (if applicable). Different offices take a different amount of signatures. For a U. S. Senator they need at least 5,000 signature and no more than 10,000. We do not count signatures when a candidate files. If a senate candidate files only 500 signatures and no one objects to his petitions he is on the ballot. If you need more information please call me. (number redacted)

Democratic National Committee's Office of Constituency Services

According to the DNC website, Constituency Services "responds to requests for information". So this morning I called the DNC, got the pertinent email, and requested the information I've been looking for:

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Dear Sir/Madam,

I'm not sure if this is the correct place to ask this question, but your webiste stated that: "Constituency Services responds to all policy and constituent mail and responds to requests for information." I would like to request information about the process the Democratic party uses to ensure that its candidates are qualified to hold the offices they run for. The reason I'm coming to the DNC is that, in response to these same questions, my state chairman (Pat Waak) said: " If you would like more information on specifics, please contact the Democratic National Committee." I was also told by the Oregon Attorney General, "the national organizations of the major political parties are responsible for ensuring that they nominate only qualified candidates." The Colorado Secretary of State also informed me that it's the "legal responsibility" of the party to certify qualified candidates to their office.

My questions have to do with a clause found in the 2008 Delegate Selection Rules. On page 18 of that document it states:

1. Based on the right of the Democratic Party to freely assemble and to determine the
criteria for its candidates, it is determined that all candidates for the Democratic
nomination for President or Vice President shall:

a. be registered to vote, and shall have been registered to vote in the last
election for the office of President and Vice President; and

b. have demonstrated a commitment to the goals and objectives of the
Democratic Party as determined by the National Chair and will participate
in the Convention in good faith.

2. It is further determined that these requirements are in addition to the requirements
set forth by the United States Constitution and any law of the United States.
While this clause relates only to the presidential candidate, I'd also be interested to know how the DNC ensures that its Congressional candidates are qualified to hold the office they run for. Specifically, I'm requesting the following information:

1) What individual, individuals, group, and/or groups are responsible for ensuring that the Democratic candidates are qualified to hold the offices they run for, should they be elected?

2) Approximately when does the qualification process take place during the campaign. My research indicates that it must take place after the individual becomes an official candidate, but before receiving a nomination from the party. Is that accurate? And is there a more specific date?

3) What evidence (i.e. - birth records, passports, background check documents) is provided by the candidate to the party that allows the party to make an official determination regarding the candidate's eligibility?

4) Is there any sort of documentation which shows that the party made a determination regarding the candidates' eligibility? Perhaps a document signed by the party chair stating that such-and-such a candidate is eligible to hold the office they are running for? If so, is that documentation available to the public, and if so, how can I request that copies be sent to me?

I thank you for your time and attention to this matter, and congratulate the party on a successful election season. I have a sincere hope that our country will benefit from our new leadership, and that they might be able to guide us safely through these difficult and perilous times.

Sincerely,

Justin W. Riggs

Question Regarding Filing a Complaint Against State Political Parties

Although I am loathe to travel this road, the political parties seem resistant to releasing what ought to be simple, factual information. Today, I opened a correspondence with Troy Bratton, a Legal Specialist with the Colorado Secretary of State's office, in regards to how one would file a complaint against the political parties. Here is the correspondence, in full:

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Ms. Geiger,

In an email communication, the Colorado Secretary of State's office is quoted as saying:

"The Colorado Secretary of State's office, has received numerous calls and emails inquiring into the procedures undertaken to ensure that presidential candidates are qualified to be placed on the ballot. This email is intended to answer your questions regarding the qualifications of candidates for the office of President of the United States.First, please understand that, pursuant to Colorado statute, the process of nominating and certifying presidential candidates to the ballot is party-oriented; candidates are certified to the state and, therefore, the legal responsibility for confirming citizenship (or any other qualification) lies with the certifying entity.Any questions regarding the qualifications of a presidential candidate should be directed to the parties, who are the certifying entities in this case."

I have directed my questions to the parties, and they have, unfortunately, been unresponsive to my requests for information. I would now like to inquire as to how I might file an official complaint against the parties, and perhaps open an investigation into whether or not they performed their "legal responsibility" of confirming their presidential candidate's qualifications before certifying him to the state. Any help you might be able to offer in regards to this unpleasant business is gratefully received.

Sincerely,

Justin W. Riggs

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Mr. Riggs:

Because the legal dispute appears to be between you and the parties, I recommend that you consult an attorney for legal advice on how to proceed. This office is unable to provide you with legal advice on how to file a protest regarding the certification of candidates by a political party. Further, as expressed in the original email response from this office, the proper forum for complaints is the district court, not the Secretary of State’s office. As such, this office lacks the authority to investigate the certification of candidates by a political party. Please see sections 1-4-501(3) and 1-4-909, C.R.S., for more information.

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Mr. Bratton, et al...

Thank you for your timely response to my question. However, I'm not sure I made myself very clear in my previous message.

I am not a litigous man, and don't have the time, energy or resources to pursue this matter in a court of any kind. I am not seeking legal advice from your office - I simply want to know where I can file a *complaint* against the parties, claiming that that they didn't perform the duties prescribed to them by the Secretary of State's office.

In other words, I don't want to challenge the candidate's eligibility - that would be foolish, as I don't know if the candidate is eligible, because if the parties checked the candidates' qualifications, they won't release a) who did it, b) when it was done, or c) what evidence was provided by the candidate to the party that allowed the party to decide that the candidate was eligible.

The Secretary of State's office is on the record as stating that it is the "legal responsibility" of the party to confirm the qualifications of their candidates before certifying them to the state. If this is the case, surely there is an enforcement mechanism in place, and an authorized body that has been established to investigate such complaints as the one I propose..

Again, I am not challenging any candidate's eligibility - I am complaining that, to the best of my knowledge, the state parties did not perform their legal duty to check those same candidates' qualifications - or that if they did, they will not release the pertinent information to the public.
Sorry for the confusion, and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Justin W. Riggs

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Please see below:

1-1-113. Neglect of duty and wrongful acts - procedures for adjudication of controversies -
review by supreme court.

(1) When any controversy arises between any official charged with any duty
or function under this code and any candidate, or any officers or representatives of a political party, or
any persons who have made nominations or when any eligible elector files a verified petition in a district
court of competent jurisdiction alleging that a person charged with a duty under this code has committed
or is about to commit a breach or neglect of duty or other wrongful act, after notice to the official which
includes an opportunity to be heard, upon a finding of good cause, the district court shall issue an order
requiring substantial compliance with the provisions of this code. The order shall require the person
charged to forthwith perform the duty or to desist from the wrongful act or to forthwith show cause why
the order should not be obeyed. The burden of proof is on the petitioner.

(2) The petitioner shall be required to deposit in court the statutory witness fees pursuant to section
13-33-102, C.R.S., for each person cited or summoned into court as a party or a witness, to be paid to the
party or witness if the charge is not sustained. The money so deposited shall be returned to the party
depositing it if any of the charges are sustained.

(3) The proceedings may be reviewed and finally adjudicated by the supreme court of this state, if
either party makes application to the supreme court within three days after the district court proceedings
are terminated, unless the supreme court, in its discretion, declines jurisdiction of the case. If the
supreme court declines to review the proceedings, the decision of the district court shall be final and not
subject to further appellate review.

(4) Except as otherwise provided in this part 1, the procedure specified in this section shall be the
exclusive method for the adjudication of controversies arising from a breach or neglect of duty or other
wrongful act that occurs prior to the day of an election.

(5) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the procedures specified in section 1-1.5-105 shall
constitute the exclusive administrative remedy for a complaint arising under title III of the federal "Help
America Vote Act of 2002", Pub.L. 107-252.

Thank you.

------------
Mr. Bratton,

One final question: In the Secretary of State's communication, it refers to "the party" and "the parties", but does not specify whether it is referring to the state organization and/or the national organization. Is it the Secretary of State's official position that the legal responsibility for checking the candidate's qualifications lies at the feet of the state or the national party organization?

Thanks again...

Justin

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I am disheartened by the fact that the only opportunity I have to file a grievance is through a court of law. I do not want to clog our system with a case that ought to be handled with a simple, straightforward answer.

As of yet, I have not decided what to do. I will, of course, post when I make a final determination.

Colorado Democratic Party Legal Counsel

If I was going to contact the Republican Party's legal counsel, I decided I'd better contact the Democratic Party's, too. Here's the letter:

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Ms. Tierney,

I hope that my information is correct, and that you are still affiliated with the Colorado Democratic Party as part of their legal team. If not, please accept my apologies.

I am writing you in response to an email message that has been circulated by the Colorado Secretary of State's office stating:

"pursuant to Colorado statute, the process of nominating and certifying presidential candidates to the ballot is party-oriented; candidates are certified to the state and, therefore, the legal responsibility for confirming (the qualifications of a candidate) lies with the certifying entity. (my parantheses)Any questions regarding the qualifications of a presidential candidate should be directed to the parties, who are the certifying entities in this case."

Since the SoS' office used the term legal, I assume you would be the person to answer my questions.

In researching who determines whether or not a presidential candidate is eligible to hold office, I came across the following information in your party's 2008 Delegate Selection Rules:

1. Based on the right of the Democratic Party to freely assemble and to determine the
criteria for its candidates, it is determined that all candidates for the Democratic
nomination for President or Vice President shall:

a. be registered to vote, and shall have been registered to vote in the last
election for the office of President and Vice President; and

b. have demonstrated a commitment to the goals and objectives of the
Democratic Party as determined by the National Chair and will participate
in the Convention in good faith.

2. It is further determined that these requirements are in addition to the requirements
set forth by the United States Constitution and any law of the United States.

So it appears that the Democratic Party has some rather stringent requirements regarding who can and cannot represent the party as a presidential candidate - more stringent than the Constitution itself! My questions, then, are these:

1) Who in the Democratic Party is responsible for making sure that a presidential candidate meets all the requirements set out in the above quoted text?

2) When did the qualification process for presidential candidates take place during the 2008 election cycle?

3) What evidence is provided by the candidate to the party that allows the party to make a final determination regarding the eligibility of a presidential candidate? Is any of that documentation available to the public? If so, how would one go about requesting it?

4) Is there some sort of document that the party leadership signs that states, in effect, "this candidate is qualified to hold the office he/she is running for"? Again, where might I find a copy of such a document, should it exist?

I thank you for your time and attention to these questions. I congratulate the Democratic Party on their recent success, and wish you all the best as you attempt to govern our country through these difficult and perilous times.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Colorado GOP Legal Counsel

This has become something of a legal question, so I thought I would approach the legal counsel of both state party organizations. Here's the letter I sent to Mr. Call, legal counsel for the Colorado GOP:

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Mr. Call,

In a communication from the Colorado Secretary of State's office they state:

"pursuant to Colorado statute, the process of nominating and certifying presidential candidates to the ballot is party-oriented; candidates are certified to the state and, therefore, the legal responsibility for confirming citizenship (or any other qualification) lies with the certifying entity."

At this time, I am seeking an official response from the Colorado Republican Party (CRP) regarding what process and procedures were in place during the 2008 general election that ensured that the CRP met their legal responsibility as outlined by the Secretary of State's office. Specifically, the information I'm looking for is:

1) What individual, individuals, group, or groups is/are/were responsible for checking the Republican Party's presidential candidate's qualifications for office (including both party and Constitutional eligibility requirements)?

2) When does the verification process take place, and in 2008, when was the determination made that Sen. John McCain was eligible to hold the office of President, and that the party could certify his name to the Secretary of State as an eligible candidate?

3) What evidence was provided by Mr. McCain to the state party that caused that determination to be made?
I thank you for your assistance in this matter, and look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely,

Justin W. Riggs

My State Representative

Now that one or two other state Rep's have proposed legislation regarding the eligibility of presidential candidates, I thought I would approach my representative and see if he would be willing to author a bill as well. Here is my request:

------------
Rep. Rice,

My name is Justin Riggs. I am a member of your district, and recently, I submitted a ballot initiative proposal that would require all presidential candidates to provide evidence of their eligibility for office before being placed upon the state ballot. Looking at the requirements to get the initiative placed on the ballot, however, I realize that it will be difficult for me to achieve this feat. I was wondering if you might be willing to represent me (and other concerned citizens of your district) by authoring a bill with language similiar to that of my proposed ballot initiative.

I appreciate your consideration of this request, and eagerly await your response...

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Follow-up with Alabama

Mr. Johnston,

Approximately a week ago I sent you a few follow-up questions in regards to some information you provided me (the questions can be found below, in the last email dated 12/8/08).

Can I expect a response to my inquiries? If not, could you point me to the right person to address these questions to? I sincerely appreciate your help.

Justin

New Hampshire Document Request

RECORDS REQUEST

Dear Records Request Officer:

Pursuant to the state open records act, I request access to and copies of the Declaration of Intent for Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates (RSA 655:17-b) for all major-party presidential candidates on the November 4, 2008 General Election ballot.

Because this request is for public, non-commercial use, I request that any fee be waived. If a fee is required, please contact me at this email address (juriggs@yahoo.com) with the amount, at which time I will decide to pursue or cancel my request.

If my request is denied in whole or part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I would also remind you that the act stipulates that you respond to this request in a timely fashion. I request that the document be mailed either electronically (a scan of the document is sufficient) or through the postal service, no later than noon, December 10th(sic). If this is not possible, please contact me at this email address (juriggs@yahoo.com) with a time and a date by which I can expect to receive the document. Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Idaho

More strong language in Idaho. I'm not sure how a state can have a statute like this and not be checking the qualifications of the candidates:

------------
Dear Sir/Madam,

Under Chapter 7, Title 34-704 of the Idaho Election Code, it states:

"DECLARATION OF CANDIDACY. Any person legally qualified to hold such office is entitled to become a candidate and file his declaration of candidacy."

My question is this: who determines whether an individual is legally qualified to hold the office they are seeking?

Also, are presidential candidates required to file a declaration of candidacy with the state of Idaho?

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Wisconsin

Some of the laws are difficult for me to interpret, and I've struck out a few times now. I figured I'd ask before making a document request this time - and it was a good thing I did.

------------
Dear Sir/Madam,

Are presidential candidates required to file a declaration of candidacy under the provisions of s. 8.21 of the Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations?

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

------------
Hi Justin,

In Wisconsin, matters having to do with elections and voters are handled by the Elections Division of the Government Accountability Board (not the Office of the Secretary of State). My best suggestion is to contact the Elections Division directly http://elections.state.wi.us/

Sincerely,

Susan Churchill

------------
Thanks, Susan - I appreciate your quick reply. Have a great day!

Justin

Hawaii

I love Hawaii - the are such a warm, loving people. Even the Lieutenant Governor's office is nice.

------------
DOCUMENT REQUEST - *TIME SENSITIVE*

Justin W. Riggs
5255 S. Grant St. Littleton, CO 80121
303-781-1998

December 12, 2008

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR James R. "Duke" Aiona, Jr.
State of Hawaii
ELECTIONS DIVISION
Phone: 808 586-0255
Fax: 808 586-0231
email: ltgov@hawaii.gov

RECORDS REQUEST

Dear Records Request Officer:

Pursuant to the state open records act, I request access to and copies of the candidate nomination papers (as referred to in §12-7 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes) for all major-party presidential candidates on the November 4, 2008 General Election ballot. Because this request is for public, non-commercial use, I request that any fee be waived. If a fee is required, please contact me at this email address (juriggs@yahoo.com) with the amount, at which time I will decide to pursue or cancel my request. If my request is denied in whole or part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I would also remind you that the act stipulates that you respond to this request in a timely fashion. I request that the document be mailed either electronically (a scan of the document is sufficient) or through the postal service, no later than noon, December 10th. If this is not possible, please contact me at this email address (juriggs@yahoo.com) with a time and a date by which I can expect to receive the document. Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Aloha Mr. Riggs, The Office of Elections is no longer under within the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. By copy of this correspondence, I am requesting that the Office of Elections review your matter and take any action that they deem to be necessary and appropriate. Mahalo for writing to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. Office of the Lieutenant GovernorState Capitol - Fifth FloorHonolulu, Hawai`i 96813(808) 586-0255www.hawaii.gov/ltgov
Justin Riggs

Virginia's Strong Statute

I was surprised to see such strong language in this Virginia statute. I've written a letter, and will update the post when I hear back.

------------
Dear Sir/Madam,

In the Code of Virginia, § 24.2-519 states that:

In order to qualify as a candidate at any primary, a person must be legally qualified to hold the office for which he is a candidate and be qualified to vote in the primary in which he seeks to be a candidate.

In order to meet the requirements of this statute, it is clear that somebody from the state of Virginia must check the legal qualifications of the person seeking to become a candidate. My question is: Who is this person? When does he/she/they check the qualifications of the candidates? What evidence is required from the candidates in order to make a determination that they are legally qualified to hold office?

My particular concern is specific to the 2008 Presidential primary. Both John McCain and Barack Obama were placed on the ballot, and as far as I can determine, no one checked to ensure that they were legally qualified to hold the office for which they were a candidate. If I am mistaken, could you please provide me with the following information: a) Who was legally responsible for making sure that the candidates were legally qualified to hold the office they were running for, and therefore eligible to qualify as a candidate on your primary ballot? b) When was the determination made that these candidates were eligible to be placed on the ballot? c) What documentary evidence was presented by the candidates to the state that proved that they were legally qualified to hold the office which they sought?

I thank you for your time and attention to these important questions, and respectfully request that you respond before 5:00 pm EST, Friday December 12th. If this will not be possible, please respond to this message with a time and a date that I might expect a response from this office.

Thank you again,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

More Questions for South Carolina

Mr. Whitmire,

Sorry for taking more of your time, but after our last correspondence, I remembered something, and wanted to get some extra clarification from you.

The law that I quoted in my original message to you (SECTION 7-13-40 ) was incorrect - the law I wanted to ask about actually came to me from somebody who had received a letter directly from Garry Baum - I've attached that document for you to review. As the question asked of him directly related to the qualifications of presidential candidates, it would appear he believes that Section 7-13-350 is the statute that applies to presidential candidates.

A few more questions, based on this new information:

1) The attached letter, and your correspondence, emphasize that it is the party's responsibility to verify the qualifications of their candidates. Does this mean the state party organization, or the national party organization (or both)?

2) If "political parties must verify the qualifications of those candidates prior to certification to the authority charged by law with preparing the ballot" then who is responsible for enforcing this requirement? I'm just not sure I understand the process here. The language of the statute seems clear (to me, a non-lawyer type): The candidate's qualifications have to be verified before the political party certifies the candidate to the authority in charge of preparing the ballot. So who ensures this process takes place? There has to be somebody, right? Otherwise, the party could choose NOT to verify the qualifications of their candidates, STILL certify the name of the candidate to the authority, and the law would not be followed. So who makes sure the party does their legally mandated job - and what evidence is provided by the party to that authority that shows that the party met the requirements of the law?

3) As I mentioned before, the SC Democratic Party has confirmed to me that the ONLY thing they did to verify Mr. Obama's qualifications was require him to submit a filing statement which states in part: "I certify that I am qualified to serve as President of the United States". Would this be considered sufficient evidence that he IS qualified, because as a citizen, that concerns me. It seems like asking a criminal, "are you innocent", and then letting him go if he signs a piece of paper that states, "I certify that I am innocent." My question, then, is this: Would a signed statement from the candidate to the political party be considered sufficient evidence to PROVE that the candidate was eligible?

I sincerely thank you for your time. I am sure that you are busy, and I recognize that it takes time out of your day to answer these questions. Please know that I am indeed grateful for your time and effort.

Sincerely,

Justin W. Riggs

A Concerned Oregon Citizen

Yesterday, I received an email from "A Concerned Oregon Citizen". She shared with me a correspondence she had had with the Elections Division and Secretary of State of her state. I wanted to share a little bit of what she sent me:

------------
I visited the Oregon Elections Division this afternoon and spoke with Margie Franz, one of the election compliance specialists. Margie is responsible for verifying Federal candidacy qualifications and she is also responsible for coordinating the Oregon Electoral College vote on December 15th. I asked her if federal candidate qualifications are verified at the state level prior to a candidate being place on the ballot. The Oregon Elections Division does ensure that Congressional candidates do meet the necessary requisites as defined in Article I, as well as voter his/her registration, residency, and party affiliation.

When I asked her about Presidential candidates, she said the Oregon Elections Division does not validate his/her qualifications per Article II. She stated this is the responsibility of the FEC. The only Oregon requirement is the Presidential candidate has to submit a Declaration of Candidacy filing which includes a signed statement or affidavit that they will meet the Article II qualifications if elected. I sampled several Candidacy Declaration filing forms for other states and they all have this in common. In other words, Oregon (and in all likelihood other states), does not assume any responsibility for verifying Presidential candidate qualifications at any time before, during, or after the election.

I have visited the FEC, NARA, DNC, RNC websites and I cannot find anything that would suggest that Presidential candidate qualifications as defined in Article II are verified. I do however find it hard to believe that a candidate can make it all the way to the general election without being properly vetted for even the most basic requirements.

------------
It's wonderful to see people doing great work on this topic, and I post this here in hopes that if you are wondering whether or not you can do it, you will feel motivated to get out there and make a difference! And if you do find anything in your state, please email me at juriggs@yahoo.com, and I'll include your information in my library (much of which shows up at http://www.therightsideoflife.com).

Hello to the Democratic National Committee

This morning I called the DNC to see if I could get in touch with anyone that might be able to answer my questions. I talked to two very helpful individuals, one of which promised to get back to me with information.

Funny thing is, I was so nervous, I forgot to get the gentleman's name! Hopefully, he get's back to me....

------------
UPDATE: Matt from the DNC did get back to me, and gave me the name of Ben Abolt to get in touch with. He said this is "the guy who can answer my questions". So I sent a letter to Mr. Abolt right away:

------------
Mr. Labolt,

This morning I contacted the Democratic National Committee about the controversy surrounding Barack Obama's qualifications, and they gave me your name as the person to contact. I Googled your name, and happened to see that you had a Facebook account - hope you don't mind that I contacted you this way.

The reason I contacted the DNC is that there has obviously been some controversy surrounding whether or not Mr. Obama is qualified to hold the office of President. I think that he must be, but I took it upon myself to get a firm answer on this question. As I researched the topic I saw that in the 2008 Delegate Selection Rules, it states:

1. Based on the right of the Democratic Party to freely assemble and to determine the criteria for its candidates, it is determined that all candidates for the Democratic nomination for President or Vice President shall:

a. be registered to vote, and shall have been registered to vote in the last election for the office of President and Vice President; and

b. have demonstrated a commitment to the goals and objectives of theDemocratic Party as determined by the National Chair and will participatein the Convention in good faith.

2. It is further determined that these requirements are in addition to the requirements set forth by the United States Constitution and any law of the United States.

So now I know the Democratic Party has qualifications a candidate must meet if they want the nomination. What I don't know, and what I need your help with is:

1) Who within the party is responsible for making sure that Mr. Obama meets all the qualifications set out in the Delegate Selection Rules?

2) When did the qualification process occur, and on what date was it determined that Mr. Obama is eligible?

3)What evidence was provided by Mr. Obama that served as conclusive proof that he was eligible to seek the nomination?

Thanks in advance for your help, and I'll look forward to hearing back from you. You can contact me here on Facebook, or at juriggs@yahoo.com.

Colorado Democratic Party Chair States, "(Obama) qualified as a U.S. citizen (While Running for Senator and President) by virtue of his BC"

I've had on again/ off again correspondence with Patricia Waak, Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party. I hadn't received a suitable answer to my questions to her, so I renewed our correspondence today. Her reply certainly surprised me:

------------
Ms. Waak,

I have reviewed the documentation you referred me to, and don't see the answer to my questions. Could you please provide me with further guidance in this matter? Again, my questions are:

1) The Colorado Secretary of State is on the record stating that it is the legal responsibility of the state party to check the candidate's qualifications before certifying the name of the candidate to the state. Who in your organization was responsible for checking Mr. Obama's credentials (this might be somebody from the national party who informed your office of his eligibility?)?

2) When did the qualification process take place?

3) What evidence was provided by Mr. Obama that allowed a determination of eligibility to be made?

I am certain that this process occured, because in the 2008 Delegate Selection Plan it states:

1. Based on the right of the Democratic Party to freely assemble and to determine the
criteria for its candidates, it is determined that all candidates for the Democratic
nomination for President or Vice President shall:

a. be registered to vote, and shall have been registered to vote in the last
election for the office of President and Vice President; and

b. have demonstrated a commitment to the goals and objectives of the
Democratic Party as determined by the National Chair and will participate
in the Convention in good faith.

2. It is further determined that these requirements are in addition to the requirements
set forth by the United States Constitution and any law of the United States.

This means that before the nomination occured, somebody checked Mr. Obama's qualifications ("all candidates for the Democratic nomination for President or Vice President shall" meet the requirements the DNC specifies). I'm simply trying to ascertain WHO performed this check, WHEN it was done, and WHAT EVIDENCE was provided by the candidate.

Because of the legal nature of these questions, I understand your reticence to answer them. If there is a staff lawyer in your office, or somebody from the national party that would be better qualified (or authorized) to discuss these matters, I would be happy to speak with them instead.

I thank you for your time, and wish you the best during this busy holiday season.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

------------
From: Pat Waak pwaak@coloradodems.org
Subject: Re: Renewed request for information...
To: juriggs@yahoo.com
Cc: "Sherry Jackson" sjackson@coloradodems.org
Date: Thursday, December 11, 2008, 3:45 PM

Mr. Riggs,

Sen. Obama has run for office numerous times and qualified as a U.S. citizen by virtue of his birth certificate. He was certified as a candidate under Federal Election Commission law, both during his Senate run and his Presidential contest. If you would like more information on specifics, please contact the Democratic National Committee.

P. Waak

------------
Ms. Waak,

I understand that Mr. Obama has qualified as a citizen to run for various offices, but to become President, he must be a "natural-born" citizen, which is a different requirement altogether. If he qualified to run by virtue of his birth certificate, I would very much like to know where a copy of that document resides, so that I can view it along with the rest of the paperwork he filed.
I would definitely like more specifics, but don't know how to get anyone from the Democratic National Committee to respond to my messages (I've sent them pretty much the same messages I've sent you). Perhaps you could provide an introduction for me, so that both of our problems go away? :)

I'm sorry to bother you - I'm not seeking to make enemies. I am determined to get an answer to these questions, however - I feel it lies within my rights as a citizen of Colorado and the United States of America.

I thank you for the information you've provided so far, and hope to resolve this issue quickly so that we both might go about our normal business.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Oregon's Secretary of State's Office and Attorney General's Office Say it's National Party's Responsibility

The following post is long, but definitely required reading.

Last night, during my research, I found a law in Oregon's Revised Statutes regarding the contesting of elections. I sent a question in, as I thought it might be wise to find someone from Oregon to contest the results of the 2008 Presidential election in order to see if we could bring the eligibility issue to the forefront. Here is a copy of the entire correspondence, but for those who can't wait, the key statement is that, according to the Oregon Attorney General's legal counsel, it is the NATIONAL PARTY'S responsibility to ensure that they nominate ONLY qualified candidates.

Here's each individual message:

------------
According to the Oregon Revised Statutes: The nomination or election of any person... may be contested by anyelector entitled to vote for the person...

I am considering contesting the Presidential election, as it is altogether unclear whether or not John McCain or Barack Obama meet the Constitutional requirements for holding that office. My question is this: am I allowed to question the President's qualifications and contest that election?

Please respond immediately, as I will have to file my contest petition before Friday evening. Thank you for your time, and I wish you the best during this holidayseason.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

------------
From: Norma J BUCKNO <http://us.mc448.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=Norma.J.Buckno@state.or.us>
Subject: Re: Contest of Election question
To: juriggs@yahoo.com
Cc: "Brenda J BAYES" <http://us.mc448.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=Brenda.J.Bayes@state.or.us>
Date: Thursday, December 11, 2008, 10:02 AM

Dear Mr. Riggs,

Thank you for contacting our office by email. You are correct that Oregon election law provides procedures for election contests, in ORSChapter 258. An information page on these provisions is attached and also attached is an Election Law Summary memo that contains basically the same information on this process. The complete language of these election laws is contained in the 2007-2008 Oregon Election Laws handbook as well as posted on our website, at http://www.sos.state.or.us/, choose Elections Division, then Election Laws.

This contest of election process is a filing in court and our office does not provide legal advice to a person who wishes to file such a contest, they may wish to contact private legal counsel. The result of an election can only be changed by a recount or set aside by a judge in a court of law. A contest of election is an action filed in court by an eligible person, as defined in the statute, to contest the nomination or election of any person or the decision on any measure. The deadline for a contest of election for the November 4, 2008 General Election isDecember 15, 2008 (40 days after the election date). As to a determination of whether a Presidential candidate is qualified to take office, we offer the following advice. The Secretary of State is the elections filing officer for U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator; statewide candidates, such as Secretary of State, State Treasurer and Attorney General, as well as statewide judicial, and for other state candidates for State Representative, State Senate, Circuit Court judges and District Attorney. For the Primary Election and General Electionthere is a listing of candidates on our website, www.sos.state.or.us -select Elections Division, then Candidates. For each of the candidates listed from U.S. Senator down through District Attorney, there would be in the original file a form the candidate signed and copies of the county verification paperwork that answers the voter registration and residency question for each candidate. For copies of these documents,we would need to follow our public records request process.

The office of U.S. President and Vice President are handled differently due to the Electoral College Process. A copy of an information page on the Electoral College process is enclosed for your reference. We have also enclosed copies of information pages from the 2008 State Candidate’s Manual: Major Political Party Manual that explains the two methods for candidates to be on ballot for the Primary Election.Then under Oregon law, ORS 248.315, national political party conventions are held and the party selects it’s nominees for the GeneralElection. At the General Election, Oregon electors do not vote for presidential candidates, but only for the electors who are pledged to support a party’s candidates for President and Vice President. ORS 248.355 andORS 248.360. We note that on Oregon’s presidential ballots there was a note stating: “Your vote for the candidates for United States President and Vice President shall be a vote for the electors supporting those candidates.”

We have previously reviewed with the Attorney General’s Department of Justice legal counsel the question of the Secretary of State’s role in determining the eligibility of a Presidential candidate. We have been advised that the eligibility of a presidential candidate is not a question for the Oregon Secretary of State to determine. Therefore, there is not the same verification paperwork available for these candidates in our office. In this case, these candidates are not Oregon residents and so there would be no Oregon voter registration records etc.

We hope this information is helpful for you. Thanks, Norma

Sincerely,

Norma Buckno
Compliance Specialist
Oregon Secretary of StateElections Division

------------
Ms. Buckno,

Thank you *very* much for your thorough explanation - that was exactlythe information that I needed. I do have one follow up question, if youdon't mind.

You stated that "We have previously reviewed with the Attorney General’s Department of Justice legal counsel the question of the Secretary of State’s role in determining the eligibility of a Presidential candidate. We have been advised that the eligibility of a presidential candidate is not a question for the Oregon Secretary of State to determine."

I now understand that the Oregon Secretary of State does not determine the presidential candidates' eligibility, but I was wondering if it was established during that conversation who is responsible for doing this. Did the Attorney General's Dept. of Justice make a determination or offer an opinion on this matter? Again, any documentation available would be greatly appreciated. Thank you again for your answer - I wish that everyone were half as helpful as you.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and a fantastic 2009.

Sincerely,

Justin W. Riggs

------------
Dear Mr. Riggs,

I posed your additional question to our AG legal counsel and the onlyother advice received is that the national organizations of the major political parties are responsible for ensuring that they nominate only qualified candidates for the presidency. Thanks, Norma

Sincerely,

Norma Buckno
Compliance Specialist
Oregon Secretary of StateElections Division

A Former Democratic Party Committee Chairman

I've had a hard time getting through to the national level of the Democratic so far, so today I decided to find a former chairman and pose my questions to him/her. The person I found was Terry McCauliffe. Here is the message I sent him:

-----------
Mr. McCauliffe,

I work for a small blog called www.yourfellowcitizen.com that is dedicated to answering the questions:

1) Who verifies that presidential candidates are eligible to hold the office they're running for?
2) When does the verification process take place? and
3) What evidence is provided by the candidate that allows a determination of eligibility to be made?

As a former Democratic National Committee Chairman, I was hoping you might be able to answer some of these questions for me and my audience.

In the 2008 Delegate Selection Plan it states:
1. Based on the right of the Democratic Party to freely assemble and to determine the
criteria for its candidates, it is determined that all candidates for the Democratic
nomination for President or Vice President shall:

a. be registered to vote, and shall have been registered to vote in the last
election for the office of President and Vice President; and

b. have demonstrated a commitment to the goals and objectives of the
Democratic Party as determined by the National Chair and will participate
in the Convention in good faith.

2. It is further determined that these requirements are in addition to the requirements
set forth by the United States Constitution and any law of the United States.

Obviously, if the party has requirements, I am sure they also have an enforcement mechanism in place to make sure those requirements are met. My reading of this particular clause leads me to believe that the candidate's qualifications must be verified sometime after he/she officially becomes a candidate (filing with the FEC?) and sometime before he/she is nominated. I say this because the above clause specifically says that "all candidates for the nomination shall" have met those requirements.

Any insights you might be able to offer into this process would be most appreciated. I thank you for your time, and for your consideration of my request.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Ohio Completed...

I've been corresponding with Brandi Seskes for approximately a week now. Today wrapped up our correspondence, as I've obtained (or will obtain) all the documents I've requested from them. Here is Ms. Seskes final email to me:

Dear Mr. Riggs,

You have requested a copy of Form No. 1-A as filed by all presidential candidates appearing on the November 4, 2008 general election ballot. Form 1-A, if required, would have been filed on or before January 4, 2008 (60 days prior to the day of the primary election). All of the forms filed for the 2008 presidential primary election have been boxed up and sent to our off-site storage. I have requested that the boxes be delivered back to our elections department. Once we receive them, we will go through them and locate any 1-A forms.

Please note that only those presidential primary candidates who sought matching funds were required to file a form 1-A (or 1-B). Form 1-A is not a form that Barack Obama would have been required to file with this office (he did not seek matching funds).

In a previous email, you asked what was required of Barack Obama. I have attached the 2008 Ohio Presidential Guide, which is published by this office. Please see page 9 for an explanation of how a presidential candidate appears on the Democratic presidential primary ballot in Ohio.

I hope to email any form 1-As to you by next week.

Sincerely,
Brandi Laser Seskes
Elections Counsel,
Office of Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner

------------
I wish to thank the Ohio Secretary of State's office for their cooperation - I found them to be prompt and accomodating in my interaction with them.

Your Fellow CitizenS - A New Face!

This morning I received a wonderful surprise when I was contacted by a gentleman from Virginia that goes by the name of Jim Congable. Here is what he wrote:

------------
Hi Justin,

I just wanted to thank you for your taking the time to deal with this issue in a level headed way. I am a believer, along with Leo Donofrio and others, that both Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama are ineligible for the office of POTUS due to their lack of being Natural Born Citizens. I am disappointed that the courts will not hear the evidence, at least not up until now. I think your approach to discovering the process that each state follows to qualify candidates is great beginning towards fixing the problem for future elections. Each state must have their legislators adjust the language in their election laws so that it will be the responsibility of the Secretary of State or some responsible Officer in the state, in a non partisan way, to absolutely verify and document the qualifications of all candidates that will appear on the ballot, local, state or federal.

I would like to help you in your mission to discover the current process that each state claims that they follow. Then the appropriate steps need to be found in each state to begin the process necessary to make the changes in each states election law. How can I help? I look forward to hearing from you and I wish you continued luck in your quest for the truth in defense of our Constitution.

Warm regards,

Jim Congable

------------
Now, those emphasized parts weren't emphasized in the original, but they sure were emphasized when I was reading them!! I immediately got back to Jim and gave him a boat-load of work to do, and now one has become two! I can't tell you how grateful I am to have someone to share the burden with. There is so much work to do...

While the name of the blog won't change, let it be known that from this point forward, Jim and I will be busily serving this country as Your Fellow Citizens!

SC Election Board

I'm still trying to figure out how the election works in South Carolina, so I contacted Chris Whitmore, who works in the Secretary of State's office. Here's the rest of our correspondence (the first part can be found in earlier posts):

------------
Mr. Riggs,

Please see my responses in blue below.

Thanks,

Chris Whitmire
Public Information Officer
South Carolina State Election Commission
Post Office Box 5987Columbia, S.C. 29250
Tel: 803.734.9070
Fax: 803.734.9366

This message originates from the South Carolina State Election Commission. If you have received this message in error, we would appreciate it if you would immediately notify the South Carolina State Election Commission by sending a reply e-mail to the sender of this message. Thank you.


From: Justin Riggs [mailto:juriggs@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 2:41 PM
To: Whitmire, Chris
Subject: RE: Apologies - Questions about SC Election Law...

Mr. Whitmire,

Great! Thanks for your willingness to help. Here are my questions:

According to SECTION 7-13-40 of the South Carolina Election Code, "Political parties nominating candidates by party primary must verify the qualifications of those candidates prior to certification to the appropriate election commission of the names of candidates to be placed on primary ballots." (my emphasis) What exactly qualifies as "verifying the qualifications" of the candidate? For example, the Constitution states that an individual must a) be a natural-born citizen, b) be 35 years old, and c) be a resident of the United States for at least 14 years. What evidence would the state expect the political party to handle and observe before certifying the names of a Presidential candidate to the appropriate election commission?

7-13-40 does not apply to President. It applies to offices on June State Primary ballots (U.S. Senate down).

The statute then goes on to say that the written verification provided to the state must contain a statement certifying that the candidate certified meets the qualifications for office which he/she has filed for. I read this as a separate requirement from the one quoted above - is that correct?

7-13-40 does not apply to President. It applies to offices on June State Primary ballots (U.S. Senate down).

Finally, the Democrats 2008 Delegate Selection Plan states that: "No one may gain access to the South Carolina ballot unless he or she... is legally qualified to hold the office of President of the United States..." (my emphasis)

If no one can gain access to the ballot UNLESS he or she is qualified, doesn't that mean that SOMEBODY had to check the credentials of the candidates (and not just take their word for it) BEFORE placing them on the ballot?

This is political party rules issue. Your answer will likely come from the political party.

Over the past two weeks or so, I have spoken with Carol Fowler (head of the SC Democratic Party) several times, and she is on the record as saying that the only thing they did was have Mr. Obama sign a piece of paper stating that he is qualified. This "take my word for it" approach is troubling to me, as state law and the Democrat's own Delegate Selection Plan seem to call for a more positive, diligent approach to ensuring our candidates meet the qualifications for office.

This is political party rules issue. Your answer will likely come from the political party.

I hope you understand that I am not out to "get" any candidate. I have researched this issue in regards to John McCain, Roger Calero, and Barack Obama, each of whom have had their qualifications challenged at one point or another in this election cycle. I am not pro- or anti- any candidate; I am pro-Constitution. Indeed, as I told Ms. Fowler (when she expressed that nothing I did would disqualify Mr. Obama), my efforts could easily be seen as pro-Obama, because if SOMEBODY checked his credentials SOMEWHERE, then he has nothing to worry about. I would just like to know the WHO, the WHERE, and the WHAT EVIDENCE WAS REQUIRED so that I can know that my Constitution is being protected.

Sections 7-19-70 and 7-13-320 of the S.C. Code of Laws require the State Election Commission (SEC) to place the names of Presidential candidates on the ballot as they are certified to the SEC by their respective political parties. The SEC does not have the authority to examine or investigate the qualifications of Presidential candidates.

As you can see, these questions are somewhat legalistic in nature. If you don't feel comfortable answering them, I completely understand, but do request that you help me find the right person to talk to. I thank you for your time, as well as for your prompt response to my inquiry.

Sincerely Yours,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs
------------

As you can see, Mr. Whitmore was very courteous, professional, and helpful. I'm grateful for his assistance. It seems that I'm going to have to go back to the state party to ask more questions...

Republican National Committee's Lawyers

I seem to be getting the best response to my letters when I write to lawyers, so I thought I would try the lawyers for the Republican National Committee. Here's what I wrote:

------------
Dear Sir/Madam,

I was recently forwared a copy of the Certificate of Nominations from the state of Maryland. The document is signed by John A. Boehner, Chairman of the 2008 Republican National Convention, and Jean A. Inman, Secretary of the same.

The document states, in part, "We do hereby certify that... the following person, meeting the constitutional requirements for the Office of President of the United States...w(as) nominated for (this) office to be filled at the ensuing general election...."

My question is this: What is the process for checking a presidential candidate's qualifications? Who is responsible for doing this? When is it done? What evidence is provided by the candidate that establishes eligibility? Clearly, some process took place - otherwise, it would impossible to certify him as an eligible candidate, would it not?

I am most grateful for your time and attention, and eagerly look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Obama's 'About the Issues'

The Democratic National Committee has a link on their site where people can ask questions about "the issues" - so I asked mine:

------------
Dear Sir/Madam,

As you know both John McCain and Barack Obama have had their eligibility for office questioned during this election cycle.

My question is this: What is the process for checking a presidential candidate's qualifications? Who is responsible for doing this? When is it done? What evidence is provided by the candidate that establishes eligibility? Clearly, some process took place - otherwise, it would impossible to certify these candidates as eligible, would it not?
I am most grateful for your time and attention, and eagerly look forward to your response.

Sincerely, Your Fellow Citizen, Justin W. Riggs

Ohio

An unidentified friend of mine has been having some trouble getting documents from the Ohio Secretary of State's office, so I offered to help out. We requested the documents we wanted, and luckily, were rewarded quickly. Unfortunately, the documents we requested were the wrong ones! Such is the life of an amateur document sleuth. Here is what Ms. Seskes said to my request:

------------
Dear Mr. Riggs,

You have requested a copy of form 3-A filed by all presidential candidates on the November 4, 2008 General Election ballot. We do not charge a fee for an electronic copy of a document.

Attached is a copy of form 3-A as filed by the following candidates:

Alan Keyes
Brian P. Moore
Chuck Baldwin

Please note that these are the only form 3-As filed by presidential candidates on the ballot for the November 4, 2008 General Election.

Sincerely,
Brandi Laser Seskes
Elections Counsel,
Office of Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner

------------
I wrote back to Ms. Seskes and asked her for guidance as to which form I ought to request, and will see what she has to say. I do have a list of about 70 forms I could request, but I'd hate to have to request one copy of each!

Maryland's Certificate of Nominations

Recently, I was sent a copy of a Certificate of Nominations from Maryland. This is the document the Republicans provided to certify that John McCain had been nominated at their convention. It is signed by two party officials, and states that McCain is eligible for the office of President. I found this very interesting, and a letter to one of those who had signed their name : Jean Inman, Secretary of the Republican National Committee:

------------
Ms. Inman,

I was recently sent a copy of a Certificate of Nominations from the state of Maryland that bears your signature. The reason that I am writing you is that I am trying to determine who makes sure our Presidential candidates are qualified to hold office, and the document you signed states:

"We do hereby certify that... the following person, meeting the constitutional requirements for the Office of President of the United States... w(as) nominated for such office to be filled at the ensuing general election...."

My question for you is this: As someone who certified John McCain as Constitutionally eligible to hold the office of President, what evidence was presented to you that allowed you to make such a determination? I ask, of course, because there has been much discussion about Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama's qualifications during this election cylce - and you are the first person I've seen that actually certified a candidate as constitutionally eligible - so I believe you might possess the information I'm looking for.

I thank you for your time, and for your service to our country. I am sorry that things didn't work out for your candidate this year, but I am certain the Republicans have a bright future in store.

Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

More Questions for South Carolina

After reviewing the document that was sent by Ms. Fowler, I felt like I had more questions for South Carolinian authorities. For now, I'm staying away from Ms. Fowler - I've already taken a lot of her time. This time I sent my message to Chris Whitmire, a member of the Secretary of State's staff. Here is what I wrote:

------------
Mr./Ms. Whitmire,

As soon as I sent my last message, I realized that "Chris" could be either a male or a female. I apologize for assuming one over the other. Here, again, is my question:

I have a few questions I'd like to ask somebody about SC Election Law. Some other states I've contacted have election lawyers that they've let me address my questions to. Does SC have a similar system in place?

I appreciate your attention to this matter...

Sincerely,

Justin W. Riggs
------------
To my great pleasure, Mr. Whitmire got back to me very soon thereafter. He wrote:

Mr. Riggs,

It is Mister, thanks for the consideration though.
The State Election Commission does not have an attorney on staff, but I can try to answer your questions.
You can also reach me by phone at the number below.
Thank you,

Chris WhitmirePublic Information Officer
South Carolina State Election Commission Post Office Box 5987Columbia, S.C. 29250Tel: 803.734.9070Fax: 803.734.9366

------------
I replied:

Mr. Whitmire,

Great! Thanks for your willingness to help. Here are my questions:

According to SECTION 7-13-40 of the South Carolina Election Code, "Political parties nominating candidates by party primary must verify the qualifications of those candidates prior to certification to the appropriate election commission of the names of candidates to be placed on primary ballots." (my emphasis) What exactly qualifies as "verifying the qualifications" of the candidate? For example, the Constitution states that an individual must a) be a natural-born citizen, b) be 35 years old, and c) be a resident of the United States for at least 14 years. What evidence would the state expect the political party to handle and observe before certifying the names of a Presidential candidate to the appropriate election commission?

The statute then goes on to say that the written verification provided to the state must contain a statement certifying that the candidate certified meets the qualifications for office which he/she has filed for. I read this as a separate requirement from the one quoted above - is that correct?

Finally, the Democrats 2008 Delegate Selection Plan states that: "No one may gain access to the South Carolina ballot unless he or she... is legally qualified to hold the office of President of the United States..." (my emphasis)

If no one can gain access to the ballot UNLESS he or she is qualified, doesn't that mean that SOMEBODY had to check the credentials of the candidates (and not just take their word for it) BEFORE placing them on the ballot?

Over the past two weeks or so, I have spoken with Carol Fowler (head of the SC Democratic Party) several times, and she is on the record as saying that the only thing they did was have Mr. Obama sign a piece of paper stating that he is qualified. This "take my word for it" approach is troubling to me, as state law and the Democrat's own Delegate Selection Plan seem to call for a more positive, diligent approach to ensuring our candidates meet the qualifications for office.

I hope you understand that I am not out to "get" any candidate. I have researched this issue in regards to John McCain, Roger Calero, and Barack Obama, each of whom have had their qualifications challenged at one point or another in this election cycle. I am not pro- or anti- any candidate; I am pro-Constitution. Indeed, as I told Ms. Fowler (when she expressed that nothing I did would disqualify Mr. Obama), my efforts could easily be seen as pro-Obama, because if SOMEBODY checked his credentials SOMEWHERE, then he has nothing to worry about. I would just like to know the WHO, the WHERE, and the WHAT EVIDENCE WAS REQUIRED so that I can know that my Constitution is being protected.

As you can see, these questions are somewhat legalistic in nature. If you don't feel comfortable answering them, I completely understand, but do request that you help me find the right person to talk to. I thank you for your time, as well as for your prompt response to my inquiry.

Sincerely Yours,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

------------
When he replies, I'll update the post.

Maryland

I've been looking for a law like this for quite awhile. Maryland's Election Code states that a person can only become a candidate only if the individual fulfills the qualifications... I sent a letter to the office of Maryland's Secretary of State, seeing if someone could give me some clarification on the statute:

------------
Ms. Elson,

I'm not sure if I've got the right person for this request, but perhaps you could point me in the right direction if I've wandered off the path.

According to § 5-201 of the Code of Maryland,

"An individual may become a candidate for a public or party office only if the individual satisfies the qualifications for that office established by law and, in the case of a party office, by party constitution or bylaws.

My question is this: if a candidate can "only" become a candidate if he/she satisfies the qualifications for that office, then who makes sure that people who don't satisfy the requirements don't become candidates? In other words, who has the responsibility to determine whether an individual “satisfies the qualifications for that office”?

I appreciate any help you can provide on this matter. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to your response.

Your Fellow Citizen,

Justin W. Riggs

Thank you to South Carolina

Today I received the document that Carol Fowler had promised me. It is signed by Barack Obama, and states that he is eligible to hold the office of President. It will be posted at http://www.therightsideoflife.com no later than tomorrow evening - probably sometime before noon, if I can get it scanned in the morning.

I just wanted to thank Ms. Fowler for keeping her word. I greatly appreciate it.

Indiana Makes a Mistake?!?

To Whom it May Concern:

It appears that the Indiana Code might have the wrong Clause of the United States Constitution in IC 3-8-1-6. That statute now reads:

IC 3-8-1-6
President or Vice President
Sec. 6. (a) A candidate for the office of President or Vice
President of the United States must have the qualifications provided
in Article 2, Section 1, clause 4 of the Constitution of the United
States.

The requirements for Presidential candidates are found in Clause 5 of Article 2, Section 1.

I thank you for your attention to this matter.

Your Fellow Citizen,

Justin W. Riggs

New Hampshire

New Hampshire has a requirement that all candidates file a Declaration of Candidacy that states that they meet the requirements of the office. I wrote the Secretary of State's office to see if they might be willing to let me have a copy:

RECORDS REQUEST
Dear Records Request Officer:
According to the New Hampshire Code, Presidential candidates are required to file a Declaration of Intent and a Declaration of Candidacy (see below for relevant statutes).Pursuant to the state open records act, I request access to and copies of these documents for all major-party (i.e. Democrat and Republican) presidential candidates on the November 4, 2008 General Election ballot.
Because this request is for public, non-commercial use, I request that any fee be waived. If a fee is required, please contact me at this email address (juriggs@yahoo.com) with the amount, at which time I will decide to pursue or cancel my request.
If my request is denied in whole or part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I would also remind you that the act stipulates that you respond to this request in a timely fashion. I request that the document be mailed either electronically (a scan of the document is sufficient) or through the postal service, no later than noon, December 10th. If this is not possible, please contact me at this email address (juriggs@yahoo.com) with a time and a date by which I can expect to receive the document.
Thank you for your assistance in this matter.
Sincerely,
Your Fellow Citizen,
Justin W. Riggs

Relevant Statues from NH Code

655:17-b Declaration of Intent; Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates Who File Nomination Papers.
II. I, ________ declare that I am domiciled in the city (or town or unincorporated place) of _______, county of , state of ______________, and am a qualified voter therein; that I intend to be a candidate for the office of to be chosen at the general election to be held on the day of ; and I intend to file nomination papers by the deadline established under RSA 655:43. I further declare that, if qualified as a candidate for said office, I shall not withdraw; and that, if elected, I shall be qualified for and shall assume the duties of said office.
Presidential Nominations

655:47 Declaration of Candidacy; Filing Period.
I. The names of any persons to be voted upon as candidates for president and vice-president at the presidential primary shall be printed on the ballots upon the filing of declarations of candidacy with the secretary of state in the following form and signed by the candidate:

I, , declare that I am domiciled in , in the city (or town or unincorporated place) of , county of , state of , and meet the qualifications for the office for which I am a candidate; that I am a registered member of the party; that I am a candidate for nomination for the office of to be made at the primary election to be held on the day of ; and I hereby request that my name be printed on the official primary ballot of said party as a candidate for such nomination.
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