Pennsylvania's Voters' Choice Act
The Independent Gazette visited Harrisburg Wednesday, April 10th, and personally delivered the following letter to all state representatives from northeastern Pennsylvania. The letter is self-explanatory and below it you’ll find a response already provided by Senator John Yudichak (D-District 14).
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April 10, 2013
Louis R. Jasikoff
PO Box 509
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18703
Senators Mike Folmer, Lisa Baker, Lisa Boscola, Rob Teplitz, John Yudichak, and John Blake;
Representatives Eddie Day Pashinski, Karen Boback, Mike Carroll, Tarah Toohil, Phyllis Mundy, Gerald J. Mullery, Sid Michaels Kavulich, Frank Farina, Marty Flynn, Kevin Haggerty, Sandra Major, and Michael Peifer
RE: Voters’ Choice Act, SB 195
Dear Representatives from northeastern Pennsylvania:
Our Wilkes-Barre Independent Gazette May issue, hitting the streets May 7th, will include a full page article on the Voters’ Choice Act, SB 195, introduced by Senator Mike Folmer, with co-sponsors including Senators Baker, Boscola, and Teplitz.
Article 1, Section 5 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania states:
“Elections shall be free and equal; and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.”
As widely acknowledged, elections are anything but free and equal in Pennsylvania.
We have a primary process that excludes the largest growing electorate in the state, the “independent voter,” from participating in that process unless that voter joins a special club, either the Democratic or Republican Parties. Not only are these unaffiliated voters not allowed to vote in primary elections, but they are taxed so that the Democrats and Republicans can select their general election candidates at public expense. “No taxation without representation” is ringing true again.
For the 2013 and 2014 election cycles any candidate wishing to run for statewide office from either of the so-called major parties is required to submit 2,000 signatures to appear on the primary ballot. A candidate wishing to run on any other ticket will be required to submit over 60,000 nomination signatures for inclusion on the general ballot—this is not “free and equal.”
We are asking you to respond to very specific questions which are not intended as typical “gotcha” questions, but really do get to the heart of the matter and should indicate where you stand on this matter. We are letting you know the questions beforehand, so you have sufficient time to formulate your response. That being said, we are also not looking for, nor will we view favorably, “political speak.” With our men and women in uniform dying all over the world so other nations may experience free and equal elections abroad, we should expect nothing less right here. We expect straightforward answers, as this is the civil rights issue of our day in Pennsylvania.
Please respond to the following.
Do you believe it is your duty to defend and protect the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?
Do you support free and equal elections?
Will you co-sponsor SB 195, the Voters’ Choice Act if you are a senator? Will you be willing to introduce the bill or co-sponsor it if you are a member of the House?
If you will not co-sponsor SB 195, what solution(s) would you propose to ensure that elections are indeed free and equal for the voters of Pennsylvania with regard to the primary election practices, in particular, as well as the general election signature requirements?
I have included the previous two editions of our newspaper. Currently, we print 5,000 copies per issue, and expect to increase this quantity to somewhere between 7,500 and 10,000 for the May edition. We also enjoy a robust online presence, coordinating our efforts with those of numerous groups in the area. A Scranton edition of the Independent Gazette should launch in May or June.
Your responses will be posted in both newspapers, with online groups, local veterans organizations, and with the League of Women Voters. We also possess a broadcast radio outlet, as Michael and I are also heard Saturday mornings on 94.3FM, The Talker.
Thank you for your cooperation and we look forward to your responses.
Louis R. Jasikoff
Mr. Jasikoff – Senator Yudichak asked to respond to your questions:
1. Do you believe it is your duty to defend and protect the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?
2. Do you support free and equal elections?
Will you cosponsor SB 195?
On behalf of Senator John P. Blake, 22nd Senate District:
1. Do you believe it is your duty to defend and protect the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania? YES
2. Do you support free and equal elections? YES
3. Will you cosponsor SB 195?
YES, Senator Blake has sponsored Senator Folmer’s SB 195
Senator Blake has also co-sponsored Senator Teplitz’s SB 696 proposal to amend the Election Code to allow for registered independents to vote in primary elections. The bill would allow those persons who are not registered as either Republicans or Democrats to temporarily change their registration status, and thus take part in a primary election. The status of this change would expire after the voter has cast his/her ballot, unless the voter filled out an additional form after voting.