Monday, October 22, 2007

Inaccessible ballot - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Inaccessible ballot - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Inaccessible ballot"
Great editorial in the Trib today. This ballot access point is a real jug of poison for Pennsylvania's political landscape.

When the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider a case from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals this term challenging Pennsylvania's grossly unfair ballot-access rules, it accepted the premise that voters are incapable of exercising their constitutionally protected franchise.

In Rogers v. Cortes, parties such as the Greens, Libertarians and Constitutionalists rightly claimed that the state plays political favorites. There is one set of rules for Republicans and Democrats -- and much tougher rules for everybody else.

A duopoly candidate running statewide only needed 2,000 signatures on a nominating petition in 2006. For other statewide candidates, it's 60,070 signatures -- and a small fortune to hire lawyers for a likely court challenge by Democrats or Republicans questioning the validity of the signatures.

And, if a court decrees, to reimburse the costs of those challenging the signatures.

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The circuit court concluded that Pennsylvania, controlled for decades by the two-party system, has a legitimate interest to limit competition. If voters have too many choices, it might "clutter" the ballot.

Presumably more than two choices would befuddle commonwealth voters. Heaven forbid they should have more choices of viable candidates instead of the status quo.

Article 1, Section 5. of the state Constitution is clear: "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."

Free? Equal? Please.

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