Libertarian candidates cheated out of ballot access in PA
Harrisburg, PA – Marakay Rogers, Kat Valleley and Doug Jamison wanted to run for state-wide office on the Libertarian Party ticket.
They wanted to give Pennsylvania voters more choices in the election.
They collected 25,033 signatures to comply with Pennsylvania’s immense ballot access requirements so their names could appear on the ballot. That’s 23,033 more than are required for Republican and Democratic state candidates.
Republican and Democratic power brokers do not want ballot choice for Pennsylvania voters and challenged the signatures of all third-party and independent state-wide candidates.
Marakay, Kat and Doug wanted to fight the challenge. They traveled to Harrisburg to fight the challenge. In 2004 and 2006, the courts assessed over $80,000 in fees to a candidate who lost a ballot access challenge. This year, our lawyer estimated these fees would run between $92,000 and $106,000. Using this leverage, the power brokers offered a deal – drop your efforts to be on the ballot and avoid exorbitant challenge fees or continue to fight and face the risk of fees that could easily lead to personal bankruptcy. The potential cost of a loss was too great. After deliberation, our candidates withdrew.
The Libertarian Party candidates are not alone. The old-party power brokers have used the signature-challenge process to remove all of the alternative statewide candidates who successfully filed to appear on the November 2010 ballot.
Though the challenge provision of the election code has been in place since 1937, it was not used to remove a statewide candidate from the November ballot until 2004. Since then, the challenge has become standard operating procedure for the old parties.
Marakay Rogers, candidate for Governor, said “This type of dealing may signal the end of third-party campaigning in Pennsylvania, except for the rich or the brave. Anyone can file a challenge and then threaten to clobber their opponent with outrageous and unaffordable legal fees that started accumulating long before any actual hearing. Even for someone who does believe they have enough valid signatures after a challenge, the threat of the fees assessed is enough to force you to back out just in case you might not win.”
Added U.S. Senate candidate, Doug Jamison, “I, and my fellow state-wide candidates, will continue our efforts as write-in candidates. At the same time, this challenge has effectively disenfranchised the great citizens of this commonwealth from their fundamental right of the democratic process of selecting the best candidate.”
LPPa Chair Michael Robertson concluded “”The unlevel playing field that alternative party and independent candidates face to be included on the Pennsylvania ballot has turned into a wall. We are calling on the General Assembly to tear down that wall, and allow the voters of the commonwealth the choices they deserve.”
The LPPa has strongly endorsed the Voters’ Choice Act, or SB 252, which was introduced by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon). The bill would equalize ballot access across all parties, not just the Democrats and Republicans. Unfortunately, the bill has been sitting in committee for over a year, with little indication that it will be passed before the end of the year.