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Rally for Voters' Choice this Sunday!

From: Kenholio
Sent on: Friday, August 13, 2010 3:07 PM

 

Folks:

 

                Did you hear?  Earlier this week – and at the last possible moment – the Democrats and Republicans filed legal challenges regarding the ballot access petitions of EVERY third-party statewide candidate, regardless of party, plus a number of local candidates as well.  Read the Inquirer story at www.tinyurl.com/2be88hu.  A joint press release issued by Pennsylvania’s third parties is copied below.

 

Should the challenges succeed, not only will the candidates be summarily booted off the ballot, they could also be fined over $80,000.  That’s what happened to the challenged statewide candidates in 2004 and 2006, and both the Pennsylvania and U.S. Supreme Courts have already upheld the legality of such draconian fines.

This sort of suppression of democracy is unconscionable.  It’s time we take action.

 

This coming Sunday, August 15th, four separate rallies in support of voters’ choice will be held in Southeastern Pennsylvania at the homes of four of the politicos who are using legal shenanigans to crush their competition.  We’ll be calling on them to renounce their unjust political games and let the voters of Pennsylvania have a true choice on the ballot this November.

                The rallies will be held in South Philadelphia and near Media in Delaware County beginning at 12:30 and ending at 4:30.  A map showing the exact locations and times can be found at www.tinyurl.com/RallyForVotersChoice.  The rallies are intended to be peaceful, and since there are sidewalks at each rally location, feel free to bring the kids along for a valuable civics lesson.  If you’re the artistic type, you may want to take a few moments beforehand to create some colorful signs and banners.  I’ll be bringing along my picture of “Uncle Joe”, below.  He seems to be the perfect logo for the event.

 

                Please pardon the short notice.  We only received word of the challenge on Tuesday, and the court proceedings start this coming Monday.  Time is short.  The time to act is right now!

 

                See you there,

 

-          Ken

 

 

--------------------------------------------
Ken Krawchuk
Libertarian for Pennsylvania Governor (1998, 2002)
Past Chair, Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania [masked])

Krawchuk '02
c/o PO Box 260
Cheltenham, Penna. USPO 19012

(215)[masked] (voice)
(215) Krawchuk (fax)
[address removed]
www.KenK.Org

 

 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 12, 2010
 
CONTACT: Oliver Hall - (202)[masked]
 
PENNSYLVANIA MINOR PARTIES CALL ON REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS TO WITHDRAW PETITION CHALLENGES AND TO CONDEMN USE OF PUNITIVE AND DISCRIMINATORY ELECTION LAWS TO SUPPRESS VOTER CHOICE


Major Party Challenges Filed Against Every Non-Major Party Candidate for Statewide Office in Pennsylvania Are an Assault on Democracy that Attempts to Deny Voters a Free Choice at the Polls, State Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties Say

HARRISBURG, PA – In a display of non-partisan unity on behalf of all Pennsylvania voters who desire a free choice of candidates in the November 2, 2010 general election, the state’s Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties today called on Republicans and Democrats to withdraw the nomination petition challenges that major party operatives filed against every non-major party candidate for statewide office in Pennsylvania. The minor parties also called on the major party candidates who are the intended beneficiaries of the challenges to condemn them as an attempt to suppress voter choice in the upcoming election. Under Pennsylvania’s uniquely punitive and discriminatory ballot access scheme, minor party and independent candidates may be ordered to pay $80,000 or more in litigation costs and attorneys’ fees if they defend against such challenges.

The Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties specifically called on Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Corbett to condemn the challenge filed against Libertarian Party gubernatorial nominee Marakay Rogers. They called on Republican congressional candidate Pat Meehan to condemn the challenge to independent candidate Jim Schneller. And the minor parties called on Democratic senatorial nominee Joe Sestak to condemns and withdraw the challenge that he personally filed to Green Party senatorial nominee Mel Packer. Corbett, Meehan and Sestak must condemn the challenges whether or not they were involved in the filing, the minor parties say, because they are the intended beneficiaries.

"These petition challenges filed against every non-major party candidate for statewide office in Pennsylvania prove that when it comes to elections, Republicans and Democrats both stand against voter choice," said Constitution Party State Chair Wes Thompson. "Voters cannot allow our democratic process to be hijacked by private, entrenched political parties that want to decide who we can and cannot vote for."

"Pennsylvania Greens have fought to give voters a free choice on election day, and now we are asking voters to stand with us," said Green Party State Chair I.K. Samways. "Tell Joe Sestak that you oppose his anti-democratic effort to deny you a free choice of candidates in November."

"No one knows the potential for corruption to infect the petition challenge process better than Attorney General Tom Corbett," said Libertarian Party State Chair Mik Robertson. "It is a shame that so many soldiers have died to bring ballot choices to people in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the political machines in Pennsylvania work to restrict ballot choices for our own citizens."

In 2004, Pennsylvania courts adopted a uniquely punitive ballot access scheme, by authorizing the assessment of litigation costs against minor party and independent candidates who defend their nomination petitions when challenged by a private party. Prior to 2004, no state in the nation, including Pennsylvania, had ever ordered candidates to pay such costs. That is because, as the Supreme Court of the United States observed more than four decades ago in Harman v. Forsenius, "It has long been established that a State may not impose a penalty upon those who exercise a right guaranteed by the Constitution." Several landmark Supreme Court decisions since then have reaffirmed that states may not impose mandatory financial burdens on candidates and voters as a condition of their participation in elections.

Nevertheless, in 2004 Commonwealth Court Judge James Gardner Colins ordered independent presidential candidates Ralph Nader and Peter Miguel Camejo to pay $81,102.19 in litigation costs to the parties who challenged their nomination petitions. Relying on that unconstitutional decision, in 2006 Commonwealth Court Judge James R. Kelley ordered Green Party senatorial candidate Carl Romanelli to pay his challengers more than $80,000 in costs and fees.

Attorney General Tom Corbett’s Grand Jury investigation into the "Bonusgate" scandal subsequently revealed that employees of the State House Democratic Caucus had illegally prepared the Nader-Camejo and Romanelli petition challenges at taxpayer expense. The Pennsylvania courts still refused to set aside the judgments awarding costs to the challengers. The candidates continue to oppose enforcement of the judgments.

"In the wake of the Bonusgate scandal, which exposed rampant corruption in the petition challenge process, the Pennsylvania courts ratified a discriminatory ballot access scheme that subjects minor party and independent candidates to bank-breaking and clearly unconstitutional costs and fees if they defend their nomination petitions," said Oliver Hall, an attorney with the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Competitive Democracy, which is representing Pennsylvania’s Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties in a federal lawsuit challenging state election laws. "If Pennsylvania voters want a free choice at the polls, they must stand up for candidates’ rights to seek office, regardless of partisan affiliation."

The Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties say that Republicans and Democrats must pledge not to file nomination petition challenges until Pennsylvania’s unconstitutional election laws are reformed. The Voter Choice Act (SB 252), which State Senator Mike Folmer (R-48) and eight co-sponsors introduced in February 2009, would enact the needed reforms by eliminating the discriminatory requirement that minor party and independent candidates submit nomination petitions with tens of thousands of signatures. The bill, however, has languished in committee.

"The time is ripe for reform, but so far it’s business as usual in Harrisburg," Hall said. "The major parties are going all out to deny Pennsylvanians a free choice of candidates in November, and they will continue to do so until voters make it clear that they will not tolerate such anti-democratic tactics."

 

 - End -

 

 

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