Friday, August 19, 2005

Fixing Pennsylvania’s Unconstitutional Election Code

The Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania is seeking sponsors for Pennsylvania Election Code legislation.

Several sections of the Pennsylvania Election Code (Title 25) have been deemed unconstitutional in federal court. States Ken Crippen, chair of the Legislative Action Committee of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania, “The PEC needs to be updated according to judicial rulings. We cannot allow Pennsylvania statutes to contain sections that are unconstitutional.” The Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania has thus drafted legislation that deals with three of the main topics at issue: filing fees, affiants for signature petitions and fusion of candidates with major political parties.

Filing Fees

Under present law, candidates are required to pay a filing fee when submitting nomination papers or petitions. In the case Belitskus v. Pizzingrilli (343 F. 3rd 632; 3rd Circuit 2003), the court ruled that the mandatory filing fee, coupled with no alternative means to gain ballot access, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The LPPa bill proposes that the State add alternative means, in this case community service, for candidates to gain access to the ballot.

Affiants for signature petitions

Also, under present law, nominating petition affiants in Pennsylvania must be registered voters. In the case Morrill v. Weaver (224 F. Supp. 2d 882; 2002 U.S. Dist.), the court ruled that this unconstitutionally violates citizen’s rights to free political expression and association under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The LPPa bill proposes that the requirement that nominating petition affiants in Pennsylvania must be registered voters be repealed.

Fusion of candidates with major political parties

In addition, the present law permits major parties to fuse candidates (cross nominate candidates across party lines) for local offices but preclude minor parties from exercising the same right. In Patriot Party of Allegheny County v. Allegheny County Department of Elections (case citation 95 F. 3d 253 (3d Cir. 1996)), the court ruled that “Pennsylvania’s decision to ban cross-nominations by minor political parties and to allow cross-nomination by major parties constituted the type of ‘invidious classifications’ prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause… The court noted that the Pennsylvania statutes laws treated minor and major parties differently and placed a more severe burden on minor political parties’ rights.” The LPPa bill proposes to eliminate these additional burdens on minor political parties.

David Jahn, Chair of the Pennsylvania Libertarian Party, states “the courts have found several requirements within our election code that contradict our constitution. This bill proposes common sense remedies to alleviate those concerns. All we need now are some sponsors willing to do the right thing.”

The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in the United States with over 600 officials serving in office throughout the nation. Please visit or for more information on the Libertarian Party.

For more information contact:
Doug Leard (Media Relations) or David Jahn (Chair) at 1-800-R-RIGHTS

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