AUGUSTA (AP) – Maine Democrats lost a bid to keep independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader’s name off the Nov. 2 ballot as a judge upheld the state’s petition review procedures.

“We expected logic and common sense to prevail, and they did,” Nancy Oden, a Nader elector from Jonesboro, said after Superior Court Justice S. Kirk Studstrup’s ruling was made public Tuesday.

Maine Democratic Party Chairwoman Dorothy Melanson had appealed to Superior Court after Secretary of State Dan Gwadosky brushed aside a challenge, ruling Nader’s name should appear on the ballot.

She said Maine election officials should not have approved petitions that incorrectly identified Nader elector J. Noble Snowdeal as John Noble Snowdeal.

The appeal also said petitions failed to clearly show that Nader is not a member of a recognized political party in Maine.

During a hearing before Studstrup last week, Assistant Attorney General Phyllis Gardiner defended state election officials, saying state laws that guide the petition process are not meant to be so strictly enforced that they hinder ballot access.

In his ruling, Studstrup said the state followed proper procedures and “there was no abuse of discretion” in approving the petitions.

Maine is one of several states where Democrats have challenged the consumer activist’s appearance on Election Day ballots.

Nader’s name is to appear as a presidential candidate on ballots in more than 30 states.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request by Nader supporters to block Oregon from printing ballots without Nader’s name.

The New Mexico Supreme Court, meanwhile, ordered Nader’s name to be placed on that state’s Nov. 2 ballot.

A day earlier, a Pennsylvania court opened hearings across the state on challenges to Nader’s nomination papers.

Democrats in Maine and elsewhere are concerned that Nader could siphon votes from party presidential nominee John Kerry. Four years ago, when Nader was listed as a Green Independent in Maine, he won 5.7 percent of the state’s vote.

Democrat Al Gore took 49.1 percent of the Maine vote in 2000 and won the state’s four electoral votes, while Republican George W. Bush took 44 percent.

Nader supporter Oden said Democrats this year “are just trying to use up … Nader’s resources so he cannot buy television ads to get the word out on the issues” such as health care.

Melanson issued a statement that said, “While there are still serious questions regarding the methods Ralph Nader has used to get on ballots across the country, I respect the decision of Justice Studstrup here in Maine.”

Melanson said she “will review the available options to ensure that someone seeking the presidency follows the rule of law.”

A sufficient number of petitions have been submitted to secure positions on Maine’s ballot for presidential candidates for Constitution and Libertarian parties as well as Nader. Also included are candidates for Maine’s officially recognized parties, the Democrats, Republicans and Green Independents.



On the Net:

Maine Secretary of State: http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/2004/prescan.htm



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