August 27,

LITTLE ROCK, AR – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of
Arkansas filed a lawsuit today in a federal court in Arkansas challenging
Arkansas Secretary of State Charlie Daniels’ decertification of the Green Party
of Arkansas as a political party.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of
Arkansas voters and the Green Party, charges that the decision violates state
law and the free speech rights of third parties.

“The First Amendment
protects not only the right of third parties to compete in the political arena
but also the right of individual voters to support the candidates who best
reflect their political views,” said Bryan Sells, a senior staff attorney with
the ACLU Voting Rights Project. “A lot of voters are dissatisfied with the
choices offered by the major parties, and Secretary Daniels’ decision means that
the voters of Arkansas could have even fewer choices on the ballot when they go
to the polls in the next election.”

Daniels’ decision to decertify the
Green Party stems from a state law requiring a political party’s candidates to
earn at least 3% of the total votes cast in gubernatorial or presidential
elections in order to retain access to the ballot in the next election

In the 2008 election, the Green Party’s candidates received
hundreds of thousands of votes, far surpassing the 3 percent threshold. Green
Party candidate Richard Carroll won a seat in the State House of
Representatives, and several other Green Party candidates for the U.S. House and
Senate earned over 20 percent of the vote. Daniels nonetheless decertified the
Green Party because its candidate for president, Cynthia McKinney, did not earn
more than 3 percent of the vote in the presidential race.

“The Green
Party clearly represents the interests of a large number of Arkansans,” said
Rita Sklar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “But the Democratic and
Republican parties have set up an unconstitutional system to deny ballot access
to legitimate third parties that have substantial voter support in order to
shield themselves from competition. That’s just not the way democracy is
supposed to work.”

According to the ACLU, Arkansas’ party-recognition
regulation also illegally forces political parties to compete in gubernatorial
and presidential elections. Third parties like the Green Party do not always
have gubernatorial or presidential candidates, making it impossible to earn 3
percent of the vote for candidates in those elections.

The ACLU of
Arkansas has urged lawmakers to pass legislation that would bring Arkansas law
in line with the U.S. Constitution, because without a legislative cure, parties
and persons wishing to exercise their First Amendment rights are forced to file
lawsuits to have those rights respected.

Attorneys on the case are Sells
and Laughlin McDonald of the national ACLU Voting Rights Project and Holly
Dickson of the ACLU of Arkansas.

The complaint in the case, Green Party
of Arkansas et al. v. Daniels, is available online at:

More information on the work of the ACLU Voting Rights Project is
available at:

information about the ACLU of Arkansas is available at: