Thursday, October 11, 2007

Court allows Pennsylvania election code to restrict voter choices

U.S. Supreme Court ignores Pennsylvania ballot access suit

Court allows Pennsylvania election code to restrict voter choices

Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania

For Immediate Release

October 11, 2007

For more information contact:
Doug Leard (Media Relations) or
Michael Robertson (Chair) at 1-800-R-RIGHTS /

Harrisburg, PA – The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear Rogers v. Cortes, which was a challenge to Pennsylvania’s election code, a code which effectively restricts participation in the election process to the two old parties (Republican and Democrat).

In 2006, the entrenched party candidates needed 2,000 signatures to appear on the taxpayer-funded primary election ballot and winners needed do nothing further to appear on the ballot in the general election. All other parties and independent statewide candidates were required to collect at least 67,070 valid signatures for their names to appear on the November ballot. In addition, these parties are precluded by law from conducting primary elections.

In remarks made at a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court last week, Ken Krawchuk, former Libertarian candidate for Governor and a co-plaintiff on the suit, remarked, "The late Congressman Larry McDonald noted that our nation's freedom rests on four boxes: the jury box, the ballot box, the soap box, and the cartridge box. Long ago we lost the jury box, on the day jurors became prohibited from trying the law as well as the facts of a case. With this ruling, Pennsylvania has now lost the ballot box and the competition of ideas it fosters. We still retain the soap box, at least for now. Let us pray that it, too, is not taken away from us. There aren't many other boxes left."

John Haley, former Libertarian Party state chair, noted "The Republican and Democrat Parties are wrong to force Pennsylvania taxpayers, many of whom are NOT registered Republicans or Democrats, to pay for their primary elections. When they pass ballot access laws making it difficult and sometimes nearly impossible for other candidates to get on the ballot, they demonstrate that they do not care about free and equal elections and will do anything to keep their stranglehold on political power."

The Center for Competitive Democracy (a Washington D.C. based non-profit whose mission is to strengthen American democracy by eliminating bureaucratic barriers to electoral competition) filed the amicus brief to the court which argued that Pennsylvania’s election code “severely burdens minor party candidates by subjecting them to costs that grossly exceed fees this Court has struck down as unconstitutional” and “severely burdens minor party voters by forcing them to cast write-in votes that the State fails to count.”

The LPPA holds the position that voters in the Commonwealth deserve choices on the ballot for their representatives in government. In recent elections, there have been many cases where only a single name appears on the ballot in the general election. For example, in the 2004 general election, if restricted to the two old parties, voters would have had no choice in 27% of the Congressional races and 28% of the State Senate races.

Officials in the old parties shamelessly admit to liking it this way. Pennsylvania Democratic Chairman T.J. Rooney commented regarding Democrats’ efforts to collect an $81,102 judgment against Ralph Nader for running in 2004 “I think that’s great. You’re goddamned right he should pay, and he should go away, because he didn’t learn his lesson in 2000.”

Michael Robertson, LPPa Chair added "It seems ironic that the US military is currently engaged overseas to provide others in the world the opportunity to choose their representatives in government, often from dozens of choices, yet Pennsylvania goes to great lengths to prevent the same opportunity for its citizens."

The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in both Pennsylvania and the United States. Nationwide there are over 200,000 registered Libertarians with organizations in all 50 states. Libertarians serve in hundreds of elected offices throughout the nation. Please visit or for more information.

Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania
3915 Union Deposit Road #223
Harrisburg, PA 17109 1-800-R-RIGHTS

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