LAND O’ LAKES, Fla. – In September 2021, a new political party called “The People’s Party of Florida” received its registration for ballot access by the Division of Elections.
Formed by former Bernie Sanders campaign members and activists after Sanders insisted on remaining a “Democrat” presidential candidate in 2016, the party experienced a trip on the walk to becoming official in the State.
Their June 2021 application was rejected. The Division of Elections stated it did not understand the party’s bylaws regarding the nature of its association with a new, 2017 national party called “The People’s Party.”
While the bylaws issues were resolved and the party gained ballot access to show up on voters’ ballots, the party suddenly realized that the April 26 passage of Senate Bill 90 was prohibiting the party’s ability to place candidates on the November 2022 mid-term ballots. S.B. 90 now imposes a 365-day waiting period for a newly registered party to gain ballot access and also requires that all candidates must prove a minimum 365-day association with the party.
Because of the bylaws issues and the timelines involved, there was no way for the Party to present its Secretary/Treasurer, 61-year-old Elise Mysels of Land O’ Lakes as a candidate for Pasco County Commissioner.
Mysels is a long-time activist and also the current National Organizing Chair for “The People’s Party.”
Months would pass before the party’s leadership would meet an attorney who wished to represent them in a U.S. district court over Florida’s allegedly unconstitutional S.B. 90 rules.
On June 3, 2022, the People’s Party of Florida, Elise Mysels, Victor Nieto, Party Chair, and Carolyn Wolfe, Party Vice-Chair, sued Cord Byrd, Florida’s Secretary of State, Brian Corley, Pasco County Supervisor of Elections, and Florida’s Department of State, Divisions of Elections.
The lawsuit states, “Defendants are the election authorities that are willfully and intentionally denying to Plaintiffs their First Amendment rights of association, expression and of ballot access, and their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection and due process under the law.”
The lawsuit also refers to a 1986 suit, Tashjian, Secretary of State of Connecticut v. Republican Party of Connecticut, where the judge declared that a political party’s acceptance of a person as a political candidate – based on their own rules – should be honored under State election laws, and that prohibiting a party’s accepted candidate violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
In Ballot News, similar lawsuits were briefly described:
“The only two other states that ever blocked a new party from running any candidates in its first year of qualified existence were Nevada and Oklahoma, but the laws of both those states, as applied to new parties, were struck down long ago. The Independent American Party of Nevada won its case in the State Supreme Court in 1975, and the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma won its case in U.S. District Court in 1980.”
Mysels was asked by The Free Press if the State has yet justified its 365-day restrictions. She replied that they have not, but “The judge has answered on our temporary restraining order and that was denied.”
Christopher Kruger of Evanston, Illinois is the Plaintiffs’ attorney. The State does not comment on pending litigation.