Third-party candidate Carl Stevenson was forced from the ballot when two Republicans charged that those circulating his nominating petitions did not reside within the 134th state House district.  Current state law dictates only that circulators must be “qualified electors,” not mentioning that those people must live within the district where the office is sought.  However Commonwealth Court ruled in favor of the Republicans, who acted on behalf of the current state Rep. Doug Reichley (R), citing that 97 of his petition signatures were illegal.  Reichley eliminated his competition when Stevenson’s name was then struck from the ballot because he did not have sufficient signatures.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania argues that in 2002, federal court found that an electorate district residency requirement for nominating petition circulators is unconstitutional, although Commonwealth Court says federal court rulings are not binding in our state.  The independent candidate will be represented in his appeal to the state Supreme Court by two ACLU attorneys.

Read “Independent Candidate Challenges Commonwealth Court on Ballot Access Ruling,” by Eric Boehm of the Pennsylvania Independent (8/31/10).

State Senator Mike Folmer

In July of 2008 state Senator Mike Folmer introduced the “Voters’ Choice Act,” which would require all candidates for an election to garner an equal amount of nominating petition signatures for ballot access.  In the wake of all six third-party candidates for statewide offices being struck from the ballot by the powerful resources of the two majority parties, Sen. Folmer is again publicizing the need for ballot access reform.

This year’s statewide third-party candidates were required to solicit nearly 20,000 signatures, while the major party candidates needed only 10 percent as many.  Even worse was the case in 2008 when some third-party candidates needed 68,000 signatures for ballot access, while Republicans and Democrats were only required the traditional 2,000.  But since there are no third-party legislators, the bill has not come up for vote to enable more fair ballot access for the competition.

Sen. Folmer’s two-year-old bill would also require a political body to claim only 0.05 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters to be classified as a minor party for future ballot access.  State Rep. candidate Dennis Baylor has pushed for similar ballot access laws in the state’s high court, encouraging reforms not only for minor party qualification, but also for signature and ballot qualification requirements as well.  But unless constituents begin to speak out, the two-party system has more than enough resources at its disposal to keep third-party ballot access reform at bay.

For more information see “Rep. calls for fix of Pa. election rule,” from ABC 27 WHTM (8/23/10).

To read Dennis Baylor’s 2008 campaign post “Voters’ Choice Act Introduced,” click (more…)

On August 2, five third-party candidates filed sufficient signatures for access to November’s ballot.  All of their nominating petitions were challenged by Republicans except Green Party candidate Mel Packer, who defended his signatures against Democrat Joe Sestak.  And one by one each of them dropped their bids for office.

Libertarians Douglas Jamison, Kat Valleley and Marakay Rogers withdrew their court defense on Wednesday due to insurmountable signature reviews.  Each candidate had filed more than 5,000 extra signatures on their nominating petitions.  Mel Packer and self-proclaimed “tea party” candidate John Krupa dropped their bids on Monday.  GOP spokesman Mike Barley cited non-registered voter signatures as a major problem with the petitions.

For more information read “Libertarians withdraw from statewide races,” by the Associated Press, published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (8/18/10).

It is common practice for Republican and Democratic candidates to challenge the petitions of third-party opposition, decreasing voters’ choices and in turn increasing their own chances of winning the election.  This year each and every statewide third-party candidate will be forced to defend their nominating petition signatures in court due to such challenges, this time originating from mostly Republicans, some of whom have accused Democrats of practicing “dirty politics.”

The GOP alleges that the gubernatorial Tea Party candidate John Krupa received help gathering signatures from the Dan Onorato (D) campaign, which incidentally is not against the law.  The national organization Tea Party Patriots has also challenged Krupa’s petitions, claiming that the candidate is not affiliated with the Tea Party, as he was originally nominated in March by the Constitution Party.

James Schneller, reportedly an American Congress Party candidate, will defend his petitions in court against the Republican 7th District Representative candidate Patrick Meehan, who says that Democrat Brian Lentz helped him gather signatures as well.

U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak, a Democrat, is challenging Green Party Mel Packer’s petitions.  Third-party candidate Tom Lingenfelter’s petitions for the 8th Representative District will be challenged by a group of mostly Republicans.  And Republicans are also challenging Libertarian petitions for governor, lieutenant governor and U.S. Senate candidates.

Each time that a worthy third-party candidate is removed from the ballot, voters are denied another choice for representation by the very ones who seek to usurp their support.

For more information on the challenges read “GOP activists in Pa. file 3rd-party challenges,” by Peter Jackson of the Associated Press, published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (8/10/10).

Third party challengers face a very rough road to ballot access in Pennsylvania.  Not only must candidates compete with massive financial backing of majority party campaigns, but are also required to solicit a huge number of signatures and then defend them in court.  The deadline to gain signatures and file nominating petitions was August 2; opponents have until Monday to strike signatures from the petitions by filing objections.

“No Party” Party candidate Dennis Baylor has filed the necessary nominating petitions in Harrisburg to place his name on the general ballot for state Representative of the 125th district.  His opponents are incumbent Tim Seip (D) and Mike Tobash (R).  Forty-four third party candidates have filed sufficient signature requirements for Pennsylvania offices, these are a few that have been in the news:

Governor — Opposing Tom Corbett (R) and Dan Onorato (D)

  • Marakay Rogers, Libertarian Party; and Libertarian running-mate Kat Valleley
  • John Krupa, Tea Party

U.S. Senate — Opposing Pat Toomey (R) and Joe Sestak (D)

  • Douglas Jamison, Libertarian Party
  • Mel Packer, Green Party

U.S. Representatives

14th Congressional District — Opposing incumbent Mike Doyle (D) and Melissa Halusczak (R)

  • Ed Bortz, Green Party

15th Congressional District — Opposing incumbent Charlie Dent (R) and John Callahan (D)

  • Jake Towne, Independent Party

*Paul Culbreth, Independent candidate for the state Representative 96th District seat to oppose incumbent Mike Sturla (D) and Thomas Garman Jr. (R) was unable to file his signatures — despite having hundreds of extras — due to a technicality.  Read details in “Sturla challenger bounced from ballot,” by Tom Murse of the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal (8/3/10).

Also see the following articles for more information on these third-party candidates:

“Towne files papers to get name on ballot,” by Nicole Radzievich in the Allentown Morning Call (8/2/10).

“Third-party candidates cite difficulties of getting on a Pennsylvania ballot,” by Tom Infield in the Philadelphia Inquirer (8/3/10).

“Third party contenders on Sen., Gov. ballots,” by Daniel Malloy in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (8/2/10).

Carl Romanelli

Carl Romanelli’s name was withheld from the U. S. Senate ballot in 2006 because enough of his nominating petition signatures were challenged and eliminated by House Democratic members and staffers.  He alleges in a suit filed Monday that at least 30 House employees were paid to use state resources to keep his name from the ballot to help secure Democrat Bob Casey’s win.

The Green Party candidate is seeking at least $300,000 plus attorney’s fees from state Rep. DeWeese (D), former state Rep. Veon (D), the House, the House Democratic caucus and dozens of state employees.  Mr. Romanelli says that two former caucus members taught 30 staffers to review petitions in Rep. DeWeese’s office, and then as many as 100 staffers spent considerable time in striking his name from the ballot on the taxpayers’ dime.

Read the full story “Candidate knocked from ballot sues Veon, DeWeese,” by Tracie Mauriello in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (7/14/10).

Please click the link below to read the article written by Mary Young in Berks’ Reading Eagle today.

“No Party 125th District candidate Dennis Baylor wants to reform government.”