Letter to the Editor: PA’s Primary system is unconstitutional
Disclaimer: Letters to the Editor express the opinion of the writer and are not necessarily the opinion of WBIG ownership, management or staff.
Why does Pennsylvania continue to hold a closed Primary election annually?
Why does Pennsylvania mandate the continued subsidizing of the elections for the two “majority” parties’ officials?
There is nothing in the state constitution that allows either action that I can find.
The Pennsylvania Constitution, Article 1, Section 5, clearly states that all elections shall be “free and equal.” Article 1, Section 25, further mandates any portion of Article 1 to be excepted out of the powers of the government and remain inviolate. How does allowing publicly financed and controlled party elections fit these mandates when only those electors duly registered as a Democrat or Republican may participate in the Primary election, whether for party members or nominations for the general election?
It is not as if the Commonwealth does not recognize other political parties. Not to mention the outright disenfranchisement of the growing number of electors registered non-affiliated/independent (which I am).
In fact, the rules for obtaining ballot access for so-called third party and independent candidates is different from, and actually much more difficult to accomplish than, those for Democrats and Republicans getting on the Primary ballot.
How is this legal under the US Constitution’s equal protection clause? It is an obvious case of Orwell’s “all are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
Currently, many races are essentially decided in the Primary, especially for key positions such as school director and judicial seats, up to the state level, as candidates in these races can cross-file and sew up both nominations.
Then there is the so-called sore loser law which prohibits anyone who loses in the Primary from getting on the November ballot, except as a write-in.
Pennsylvania needs to abolish the publicly supported closed Primary process and allow open Primaries where all duly-elected registered electors and qualified candidates can participate on equal footing (one of the few political actions California has gotten right in generations).
Barring that, we need to shut off the corporate welfare going to the two “majority” parties and make them finance their own Primaries privately.
Yet so long as the two “major” parties hold sway, and do so hand-in-hand on this issue, we will never see change.
My answer is to have as many people register independent as possible.
Independents are the fastest growing segment of the electorate, with more Democrats than Republicans changing over. Currently, there are over 800,000 independent and third party electors in Pennsylvania.
If you are concerned about gerrymandering, gridlock , term limits, cronyism, and other political “business as usual” with the two-party system go independent and throw a wrench into the machine. In other words: keep them guessing, and stop being taken for granted.
David Kveragas, Newton