Wednesday, March 07, 2018
Maryland Tries to Drop a Huge Wrench Into Donald Trump's Minuscule Gears
It's started in Maryland but the Old Line state may be just the first. A bill is working its way through the state legislature that anyone running for president of the United States must file copies of their tax returns with the state Board of Elections two months prior to voting day. No tax return, you're not on the ballot.
Rick Hasen, a U.C. Irvine law professor who specializes in elections, explored the possibility in a March 2017 article for Politico. At the time, he noted that almost half of the state legislatures were considering some kind of measure that would compel future presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns. The optimal path for this reform is through each state’s power to determine how it selects its presidential electors.
Today, the states invariably leave the choice to the voters. But the earliest American presidential elections saw a variety of methods ranging from popular vote to selection by state legislators. There’s no formal barrier that prevents a return to the old ways, either. “In other words, if the California or Texas state legislature wanted to directly choose the state’s presidential electors in 2020, the state could do so,” Hasen noted.
Since the states can tinker with the method of choosing electors, he explained, the argument follows that they could impose other barriers like the mandatory release of tax returns.