Coalition for Free and Open Elections

Coalition for Free and Open Elections

The Coalition for Free and Open Elections (COFOE) is a nonpartisan organization in the United States that aims to promote fair ballot access. COFOE was founded in 1985, when representatives from across the political spectrum met in the New York City law office of former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

Participants in the early days of COFOE included political independents and members of the Socialist Party USA; the Libertarian Party; the Communist Party; the Citizens Party; the Prohibition Party; and the New Alliance Party. One of the early chairs of COFOE was Socialist David McReynolds, who was succeeded by Ann Rosenhaft and then by Si Gerson of the Communist Party. It has largely been due to the steadfast work of Richard Winger, editor and publisher of Ballot Access News, that COFOE has survived, and grown, as an organization.

COFOE has filed amicus briefs in several court cases relating to ballot access.

In the late 1990s a national ballot access organization with a focus similar to that of COFOE held several meetings in the Washington, DC area, attended by members of the Reform Party, Libertarian Party, Green Party, Natural Law Party, Socialist Party USA, and various independents and others. This new national ballot access coalition discussed the possibility of formally constituting a tax-exempt civic organization for purposes of ballot access litigation and education; at one point some participants in this group considered borrowing the COFOE name.

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