At today's hearing on interim maps, the court also took up the issue of possibly having to adjust candidate filing deadlines in in light of what Judge Orlando Garcia acknowledged is the likelihood that the panel would not be able to finish its task before start of the filing period on November 12.**
In response to questioning from the panel, the state's director of elections, Ann McGeehan, expressed a strong preference for leaving the end of the filing period on December 12, a view broadly echoed by lawyers for the Republican and Democratic parties.
The parties also agreed any changes to filing deadlines should apply to all candidates and not just candidates running for Congress or the Texas Legislature.
The parties diverged a little, however, on how much the filing period could be shortened.
Chad Dunn, counsel for the Texas Democratic Party, urged the court to adopt a three-week filing period running from November 24 through December 15 (more or less as the 24th is Thanksgiving). Dunn said the three week period would give county party officials more time to deal with ballot challenges and other administrative issues.
Eric Opiela, counsel for the Republican Party of Texas, told the panel that he thought a two-week filing period running from December 1 to 15 would be sufficient.
Both Dunn and Opiela agreed that candidacy requirements for the Texas Legislature should be waived for the 2012 cycle. Absent a change, a would-be candidate would need to live in his or her legislative district by this Saturday in order to be elected on the November 2012 ballot.
Opiela told the court it would be helpful if the deadlines could be finalized by Friday before an election law training this weekend in Austin for county chairs of both parties.
** The filing period is earlier this year than in past cycles due to changes to the Texas Election Code needed to bring Texas in line with federal law relating to military ballots. The filing period now runs from November 12 to December 12.