Top court won’t hear Nader case

SALEM, Ore. (AP) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday announced it would not consider whether Oregon election officials wrongly kept Ralph Nader off the presidential ballot last November.

Without comment, the court declined to hear Nader supporters’ appeal of an Oregon Supreme Court decision that denied the consumer activist a ballot spot because of flawed petition signature sheets.

Nader turned to a statewide petition drive after failing at two mini-conventions in Portland to get the 1,000 voter signatures needed to qualify for the ballots an independent candidate.

He needed 15,306 signatures to get on the ballot under the alternate method, and petitioners turned in more than 18,000 signatures.

But Secretary of State Bill Bradbury said after checking, Nader fell 218 signatures short of being on the ballot. Bradbury disqualified thousands of signatures for not conforming to technical rules, such as petition circulators not having properly signed each sheet.

Nader supporters accused Bradbury, a Democrat and backer of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, of using trivial concerns and applying unwritten rules to keep Nader off the ballot.

Nader drew 5 percent of the Oregon vote in the 2000 presidential race, which many Democrats argued was mostly at former Vice President Al Gore’s expense.

The state Supreme Court ruled that Bradbury acted within his powers in checking the petitions. Using some unwritten procedures to do that did not make them illegal, the court said.

The appeal by Nader backers sought procedural changes for future presidential elections on grounds that the rules for independent candidates were unclear.