Sunday, April 16, 2006

Benchwarmer -- Call to Action -- Voter Registration Technical Insights

Anyone (who is alive and a registered voter in the Commonwealth) can help an Independent candidate for PA Governor by signing that candidate's petition. And, anyone (it still helps to have a pulse) can circualte a petition for an independent candidate as well.

Signing is okay. Being a curculator for nomination papers is okay too.

Likewise, the same applies to a candidate who is an Independent for PA Senate. But, the only extra restriction is the border for the PA Senate district. If the person is a registered voter, lives in the district, all is fine for your help.

However, there is another level, beyond getting a signature for nomination papers from now until the end of July, and beyond getting help from fellow citizens in efforts to get those signatures. The next level is being a candidate.

Those that are now registered voters in the D and R parties MUST OPT OUT of his or her party NOW if he or she wants to get onto the ballot and BECOME A CANDIDATE for the general election in November. It isn't too late to run -- yourself -- for office in November's General Election, as an canddate (under the heading of Independent, Libertarian, Green, or even Disclosure Party) if you are registered those ways now. But, soon, that deadline passes.

For example, perhaps your state rep is a Dem, like Harry Readshaw. Harry does NOT have any D nor R opponent. So, he'll be getting onto the General Election Ballot -- without any opponent, unless someone steps up to run against him. And, that someone would need to NOT be a D or R as this deadline comes.

Well, this call for action is well put.

Attention all benchwarmers -- 04/14/2006

Tony Phyrillas , Pottstown Mercury

There's a new movie out called "The Benchwarmers." It did pretty good at the box office last week. The movie will be a distant memory a month from now when Pennsylvania voters go to the polls in the May 16 primary.

Unfortunately, many Pennsylvanian voters have chosen to be benchwarmers instead of getting into the game. Thousands of Pennsylvanians who belong to minor parties (Libertarian, Green, Constitution, Socialist) and others who have registered as independents will sit out the May 16 primary, arguably themost important election in the state's history.

All the talk we've heard since last July's outrageous pay raise about voting out the bums won't matter if voters don't follow through with threats to oust incumbents.

The best way to toss out incumbent legislators -- in many cases, the only way -- is to vote for challengers in the primary election. Incumbents have spent decades gerrymandering districts to the point where both major parties have "safe" districts, where Democrats may outnumber Republicans 2-1 or vice-versa. It's nearly impossible to vote out the incumbent unless somebody from his or her own party challenges them in the primary.

More than 60 primary challengers gunning for incumbents have survived the petition-gathering and court-challenge phase of the process. Now they need your vote to get rid of the career politicians in Harrisburg.

But third-party voters (the ones who claim they are pushing for reform) stubbornly refuse to change their voter registration to one of the two major parties, which is the only way to vote in a primary. You may be disgusted by what the Republicans and Democrats have done to this state. But until you join reform-minded Republicans and Democrats to remove the career politicians, your voice will never be heard.

March down to your county courthouse Monday and change your party affiliation for one day -- May 16 -- so you can join the people's revolution to take back Pennsylvania from the 254 self-serving career politicians (Ed Rendell and the 253 legislators).

While "benchwarmers" is a nice term I use for third-party candidates who will bury their heads in the sand on May 16, Russ Diamond is a little more blunt.

Diamond, the founder of PaCleanSweep and newly announced independent candidate for governor, issued a statement this week to Pennsylvania's "sore losers."

Pennsylvania's "sore loser" law mandates that any individual who runs as an independent or minor party candidate may not participate in the primary election as a voter or a candidate, according to Diamond.

"This is the last chance for those who are truly dedicated to changing government in Pennsylvania," Diamond said. "Once the deadline passes, registered Republicans and Democrats can't run as an independent or with a minor party affiliation. There are a lot of races across the Commonwealth where the incumbent currently has no challenger whatsoever. No one should breeze through an election cycle without a challenge. That's why we have the sorry state of affairs that brought us the pay raise and other horrible legislation."

An ongoing informal poll on the PACleanSweep Web site reveals that more than 95 percent of respondents indicate they would be willing to vote for a credible independent or minor party candidate if there is no other competition for their incumbent in November, Diamond said.

Independent and minor party candidates have until Aug. 1 to file petitions in order to get their names on November's general election ballot. Unlike the requirements for major party candidates, any registered voter may sign a petition for an independent or minor party bid.

Diamond urges those interested in changing their registration to do so by visiting their local Board of Elections by April 17.

"While we have great expectations for our Republican and Democratic candidates and we're confident they'll fair well in the primary, credible independent and minor party candidates present an opportunity for a second wave of electoral pressure on a legislature which is overdue for massive institutional change," Diamond said.

So let's review. If you live in a legislative district where the incumbent is a Democrat, you must be a registered Democrat to vote for a challenger. Otherwise, the incumbent gets a free pass to the Nov. 7 general election.

If you're not planning to run as a third-party candidate, then your best recourse is to change your voter registration for one day so you can have a say in who governs Pennsylvania. You can change your registration back the next day.

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at tphyrillas -at-

1 comment:

Mark Rauterkus said...

Hi Tom...

I use State Rep Harry Readshaw as an example so as to not be as confusing in an otherwise confusing set of example. I don't think we'll see a challenger to Readshaw. But, I think it would be a real shame if T. Petrone, who has 2 or more challengers in the D primary, got out of the Primary alive -- and didn't have a real opponent in the general election as well.