Citizens of the Commonwealth deserve choice at the ballot box, but it seems that the old parties will stop at nothing to prevent that from happening. During the 2012 election cycle, the LPPA, in conjunction with the national Libertarian Party, fought off a nine-week challenge to its slate of candidates — all designed to reduce voter choice and keep smaller government off the ballot.
Tag Archives: ballot access
In mid-February — February 17, to be precise — aspiring candidates for the May Primary election will be canvassing our neighborhoods and possibly stopping at your home for your registered voter signature and address on what is known as a candidate’s nominating petition.
The U.S. electoral system is a farce. It is controlled with the same mastery with which Coke and Pepsi dominate the soda market. It is sold to the American public as if the free and open exchange of ideas is what’s inside, but the hidden ingredients are toxic to the body politic. The story of Election 2014 will be how Libertarians (and some Independents) were, and will continue to be, a deciding factor in statewide elections despite the constant roadblocks. No longer polling at 1–2 percent, the jump to the 6–8 percent range looks to rewrite the political playbook that campaign workers have used for generations.
Maintenance: Unauthorized intervention by a nonparty in a lawsuit, in the form of financial or other support and assistance to prosecute or defend the litigation.
Let’s now turn to the issue of independents and third parties. We’ve all heard of the disproportionate signatures needed for independent and third party candidates to obtain ballot access as compared to Republicans and Democrats. We’ve all heard of the insane petitions challenges and reasons to keep independents off the ballot. It’s nothing less than economic intimidation, as I have dubbed it, to be compelled to pay to defend against challenges to ballot inclusion. I can assure you the horror stories are true, but all that would not matter if only our elected officials took their oaths seriously. Might I refer back to Article 1, Section 5: Elections shall be free and equal. What is it about that statement that a two-year-old can understand but our entrenched politicians cannot?
Before either of these cases can be reported, it is important to understand how ballot access works in Pennsylvania. First, political organization in Pennsylvania is divided into three categories: major parties (Republican and Democratic), minor parties, and political bodies. At present there are no parties technically classified as minor. That is because such recognition is attained only when a candidate achieves a vote tally of at least two percent of the highest vote in a district in a particular year. Neither the Libertarian nor Green parties attained the votes necessary to qualify in 2012, so they are not listed as minor parties statewide. Further, there will be no third party candidates on the Pennsylvania ballot for governor this year, thus assuring that no third party can claim minor party status until 2017 at the earliest. There are some benefits to being a minor party, such as having the party name appear as one of the party affiliation options on voter registration forms, as well as having the ability to place party candidates on the ballot for special elections.
Wilkes-Barre Libertarian Betsy Summers and Milford resident and political wunderkind independent congressional candidate Nick Troiano have both successfully surmounted numerous ballot access hurdles to submit their nomination signatures for office in the Pennsylvania House and US Congress, respectively.
The VCA (Voters’ Choice Act) aims to extend to independents, the fastest growing electorate in Pennsylvania, and third party candidates the same criteria needed to be placed on the ballot as Republican and Democratic. Currently there exists a large disparity in the number of nomination signatures needed for independents to get on the ballot compared to the quantity needed by members of the Republican and Democratic Parties. The challenge period — the span of time following the submission of nomination petitions during which they may be contested — is also more onerous for independents. Successfully defending against such a challenge often delays an official entry onto the November ballot until late into the election cycle, thus diminishing the impact on the electoral process by independent and third party office-seekers.
This month’s topic is campaign finance reform, the size of the legislature, and ballot access. The key is how they interconnect and what we can do to fix the problem.