Buckley v. Secretary of State
Connecticut General Statutes §9-453o(b) requires a separate statement of endorsement to indicate that a candidate on a nominating petition is the party's endorsed candidate, and it does not permit the nominating petition to also serve as the statement of endorsement. The plaintiffs formed a political party, which they named the Easton Coalition. The plaintiffs' application for party designation named Valerie and Derek Buckley as authorized endorsers. The Easton Coalition endorsed Valerie Buckley for first selectman and Derek Buckley for town clerk. The Buckleys delivered a nominating petition, which included the Buckleys' signatures, to the town clerk. A petition for Shaun Malay and Randy Shapiro contained the Buckleys' signatures. The Secretary of State rejected the nominating petitions, because the Easton Coalition did not file separate statements of endorsement. The plaintiffs sued and argued that signatures on the nominating petitions were sufficient to meet endorsement requirements; the statutes do not explicitly use the word "separate"; the Secretary of State does not provide an official form for the endorsement; each petition included the signatures of the authorized endorsers and the plaintiffs complied with the statute's purpose that authorized individuals in a political party endorse the candidates. The Secretary of State objected that the purpose is to ensure the candidates are actually endorsed and that the requirement of a separate statement of endorsement is not pro forma. The court found that the Secretary of State is required to approve the nominating petition "only if" the petition meets the signature requirement and if a statement that endorses the candidate is filed. The statement of endorsement must be separate from the nominating petition. Even if the endorsement could be included on the nominating petition, the nominating petition did not include any indication that the plaintiffs signed as endorsers. "[T]he Buckley's intent to sign the petition as authorized endorsers," wrote the court, "could not have been gleaned by the Secretary of State from the face of the petitions," which did not include the word "endorsement." The plaintiffs' noncompliance with the statute made the nominating petition ineffective, and the court denied the plaintiffs' request for a permanent injunction.