Greens Blast Pennsylvania Legislature and Wolf Administration for Failure to Follow Federal Court Decision Finding Pennsylvania Treatment of Third Parties Unconstitutional; Injunction Filed.

Green Party Chapters of Eastern Pennsylvania

For Immediate Release:
May 9, 2016

Carl Romanelli, Luzerne County 570 239 3914
Emily Cook, Montgomery County 609 947 5715

Various members of Green Party locals in Eastern Pennsylvania are speaking out against the “utter failure and disregard for the authority of Federal Courts” concerning third party ballot access. Jay Sweeney of Wyoming County is referring to a July, 2015 decision which found two sections of the Pennsylvania Election Code “Unconstitutional” as applied to Green, Libertarian and Constitution Parties. Sweeney said, “The decision of the Court is clear. The extraordinary signature requirement, in combination with the requirement that defending candidates pay the costs of validating those signatures, is unconstitutional. Still, the PA General Assembly and the Administration have failed to recognize the power of that judgment.”

As a result of the ruling, the most effective remedy would be action by the Pennsylvania Legislature to bring the Commonwealth into compliance. There is a bill currently pending in the Senate which addresses the issue, yet there has only been one committee hearing on the bill. “In September the State Government Committee held a hearing on the Voter Choice Act, yet most of the Senators on the committee failed to even show up for the hearing. Since then no further movement has occurred. In the alternative, the Secretary of the Commonwealth can decree a more reasonable standard for ballot qualification until such time as the General Assembly acts,” said Emily Cook of Montgomery County. “Despite having a remedy at hand, the Commonwealth continues use its authority to undermine electoral democracy,” Cook said.

On Monday, May 16, in Philadelphia Federal Court a hearing will be held on an Injunction filed by Attorney Oliver B. Hall, counsel for the plaintiffs, asking the federal courts to intervene and instruct the Commonwealth to comply with the decision. The injunction seeks to have Secretary Pedro Cortes, under his administrative authority, place the Green, Libertarian and Constitutional Party candidates on the ballot. A second option would be for the signature requirement for the parties to be reduced to the same number that Republicans and Democrats need, which is 2,000. Cortes is insisting that the minor parties be required to achieve a minimum signature level of 21,775.

“Third parties, including the Greens, have been involved in various court cases over the past ten years designed to expose the disgraceful actions on the part of Pennsylvania in denying ballot access to independent and third party candidates. Most offensive is the fact that millions of taxpayer dollars were used in the effort against my 2006 candidacy for US Senate and Ralph Nader’s 2004 independent bid for the presidency, in the scandal known as Bonusgate,” said Carl Romanelli of Luzerne County. “It is a shame that official institutions continue to act as partisans, rather than fulfilling the impartial demands of their job descriptions.” Romanelli added that he “hopes the media finds the curiosity to cover this developing story.”

Chris Robinson of Philadelphia said, “There are many ways that the two corporate parties can make our electoral process more accessible to poor and working people, and more receptive to policy ideas that may solve our social, economic and environmental problems. Both parties have staunchly resisted such reform, so I hope the court will require the appropriate changes be made.”

The hearing on the Injunction is scheduled for 9:30 AM on Monday, May 16, 2016 at the Federal Court House, 601 Market Street, Philadelphia. Corresponding documents will be provided to media upon request.