August 1, 2015 |
The "two-party tyranny" Ralph Nader once decried in a speech in Philadelphia remains a reality in Pennsylvania - and a fantasy in the city where he spoke, whose creaky Democratic machine rules unchallenged. The Founding Fathers, who often fretted about political factions, would rue what the major parties have wrought in the birthplace of America's democracy. Fortunately, the federal courts have finally taken aim at one egregious aspect of the two-party stranglehold in Pennsylvania: the absurd procedural and monetary barriers preventing third-party candidates from even appearing on the ballot.
July 26, 2015 |
A federal judge has ruled that Pennsylvania unfairly treats its third-party political candidates, likely clearing the way for their return to the ballot after nearly disappearing during recent election cycles. In an opinion released Friday, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel wrote that the ability of minor parties to organize and speak out "has been decimated" by portions of the state's election code. Specifically, Stengel took issue with a rule that has forced third-party candidates to gather many times the number of signatures required of Republicans or Democrats - and then pay as much as $100,000 in legal fees when their petitions are challenged.
August 28, 2012
IT'S A SAFE bet we'll be hearing a lot of talk about freedom from the podium at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week, assuming that Tropical Storm Isaac doesn't linger over the Tampa Bay Times Center and wash the GOP delegates out into Hillsborough Bay. But you probably won't hear as much about what the GOP is up to right now in Philadelphia, where angry activists accuse the party of squelching the freedom to vote in Pennsylvania for...
October 18, 2010
By Oliver Hall Pennsylvanians may notice something unusual when they go to the polls in November: Their choices for governor, lieutenant governor, and U.S. Senate will be limited exclusively to Republican and Democratic candidates. Only four other states' 2010 general-election ballots are so restrictive. What makes Pennsylvania unique, however - and suggests that something has gone seriously wrong here in the birthplace of America - is that the shortage of choices has been effectively imposed by the courts.
August 3, 2010 |
For Marakay Rogers, one of the big issues in this fall's election for Pennsylvania governor is what it took for her to gain a spot on the ballot as a third-party candidate. "It's completely absurd," she said Monday after filing her nominating petition with the Department of State in Harrisburg. Republican Tom Corbett and Democrat Dan Onorato were required to collect 2,000 voter signatures each to gain a place on the May 18 primary ballots of their respective parties. But for Rogers to get on the November ballot as a candidate of the Libertarian Party, she was required by state law to submit 19,082 signatures.
April 23, 2010
RE THE letter "Why Police Officer has to Go" by Darin Toliver: Mr. Toliver, as vice president of Black Men at the Penn School of Social Work, if police officer Thomas Schaffling were black, would you have written the same letter you did knowing he is white? I didn't see you writing about John Street, and he was in the spotlight a lot more than Officer Schaffling. How about the detective who tipped off Ace Capone or the cop who was robbing drug dealers? The only difference between these two and Schaffling is their race.
March 11, 2010
Ralph Nader continues to shine an unflattering light on Pennsylvania's political system, with good reason. Nader wrote a letter this week to state Attorney General Tom Corbett (a candidate for governor), calling attention to court testimony about Democrats' effort to knock Nader off the presidential ballot in 2004. A witness in the ongoing corruption trial of former high-ranking Democratic Rep. Mike Veon testified recently that employees of the legislature worked on state time and used taxpayer-funded resources to challenge Nader's candidacy in court.
November 9, 2009
Voter act would level the field Thanks for The Inquirer's fine coverage of Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli ("Third-party candidate comes up twice a loser," Oct. 30). Why should third-party candidates be continually used and abused by the two-party duopoly and then excluded and heavily fined for just trying to be a candidate? The Voters' Choice Act would give us real democracy with multiple choices. The legislation would level the field for all political parties, large or small, requiring each to collect 2,000 signatures prior to being listed on the ballot.
October 30, 2009 |
He may have been starry-eyed, but he wasn't a fool. Carl Romanelli, a divorced father of two grown sons from Wilkes-Barre, knew that as the Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2006, he'd have a hard time beating the big boys in the race: Republican incumbent Rick Santorum and Democrat Bob Casey. But he hoped to focus on his issues: an end to the Iraq war, health insurance, the rights of women and gays. He did not foresee that, first, he'd get knocked off the ballot and, three years later, both he and his lawyer would be facing a $80,407 bill for the expenses incurred by foes who challenged Romanelli's nominating petition.
January 28, 2009 |
If you want to run for public office in Pennsylvania, and you're neither a Republican nor a Democrat, you'd better be prepared to bet the farm. Carl Romanelli learned that lesson the hard way after campaigning for U.S. Senate on the Green Party ticket in 2006. After a successful challenge to his nomination petitions by Democrats, represented by Thorp, Reed & Armstrong, the Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg charged Romanelli with more than $80,000 in litigation costs. Romanelli, a retired family court officer, says that would "destroy" him financially.