A judge's decision to keep candidates of "Save Westport Now," a minor party, on the November ballot rings the bell for democracy, giving that town's voters greater choice.
Stamford Superior Court Judge Kenneth Povodator's ruling is a welcome precedent for at least a dozen other Connecticut cities and towns where third-party candidates have been thrown off municipal election ballots because of a filing technicality.
Those candidates should be restored to the ballot, too. In East Hampton, for example, the Chatham Party's 16 candidates — including four incumbents who make up the town council majority — have been disqualified and are forced to run write-in campaigns. That's a travesty.
In 2011, the legislature amended state election law to require minor-party nominees in municipal elections to sign a certificate of endorsement that's filed with town clerks. Democratic- and Republican-endorsed candidates have no such requirement in municipal elections.
The change in law was not enforced by election officials in the 2011 municipal elections. But they sure did enforce it this year. Several town clerks jumped on endorsed candidates who didn't personally sign certificates of endorsements, disqualifying them from the ballot.
The change makes sense. It is to verify — through the signature requirement — that the endorsed person actually wants to be endorsed by that party. But the number of candidates caught in noncompliance suggests that the 2011 change in the law was poorly communicated.
The law also treats minor-party candidates differently from major-party candidates, and that's unacceptable. Why not require Democrats and Republicans, too, to sign their certificates of endorsement in municipal elections? They all are required to sign in statewide elections.
A state's election laws should not disadvantage minor parties, which could come to play a larger role in politics and governing as the major parties continue to show a growing incompetence.