Monday, March 12, 2007

House bill would further restrict voter choice

Libertarian Party announces opposition to PA House Bill 48

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Libertarian Party today announced its strong opposition to House Bill 48 which defines criteria for disqualifying votes in an election.

The bill contains a clause preventing a write-in campaign by an independent state-wide candidate who, after submitting the minimum number of signatures to be placed on the General Election ballot, is then removed from the ballot due to procedural technicalities.

This is exactly what happened in the last election. Carl Romanelli submitted 95,000 signatures to be placed on the General Election ballot for Senate. Democrats challenged and convinced the courts that thousands of signatures were invalid, leaving Romanelli 8,931 short of the 67,070 required.

Pennsylvania’s petition signature requirements are extremely strict. Signatures are rejected for technicalities such as forgetting to enter the date or entering information in the wrong box. In addition, the courts have arbitrarily redefined “qualified electors” as registered voters from its less stringent statutory definition of Pennsylvania citizens over 18.

Under House Bill 48, Mr. Romanelli would be unable to then mount a write-in campaign, as any vote cast for him would not be counted.

Doug Leard, LPPa Media Relations Chair, remarked “Factions in the state bureaucracy and the state legislature are committed to restricting political choice on the ballot. With last year’s crushing 67,070 signature requirement, Pennsylvania is the second worst state in the nation for ballot access. When Mr. Romanelli submitted 95,000 signatures, the courts scrutinized the signatures then threw him off the ballot, as well as ordering him to pay over $80,000 in court costs and Democratic Party legal bills. Now, to add injury to insult, the House has introduced legislation to prevent Pennsylvanians who support such a candidate from having their vote even counted.”

Michael Robertson, LPPa Chair added, "Limiting the choices of voters and not counting votes is directly contrary to what government should be doing. Every voter should have their say and every vote cast should be recorded and reported. We urge Pennsylvanians to contact their representative in the General Assembly to oppose House Bill 48.”
I went into the Allegheny County Elections Department after the 2006 general election ended. Sadly, our designated poll watcher was not allowed to be there in the tabulation time, but that is another story. I counted the write-in votes from those in Allegheny County for the office of US Senator in the Casey vs. Santorum race.

Guess what.

My guy, a Libertarian, didn't get his votes reported to Harrisburg. His votes were not put together in a total. I conducted a write in for him. It didn't matter.

Hundreds of voters in Allegheny County made write in votes. Most of them didn't count.

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