PA: Calls Mount for Free and Equal Elections in the Keystone State

The purge of third party and independent candidates from the Pennsylvania ballot that took place earlier this month seems to be leading to greater calls for reform in the Keystone State. The undemocratic and anti-republican effort led by Democratic and Republican party activists resulted in the expulsion of all third party and independent candidates for statewide office from the ballot. Numerous media outlets have come out in support of third party and independent political activists who have called for reform of Pennsylvania's ballot access laws. The double standard could not be more clear. The Philadelphia Bulletin writes:
The state required third party candidates for statewide office to obtain more than 19,000 signatures to get on the ballot, while Republican and Democrat candidates had to collect only 2,000 signatures.

Early last week, political activists joined a pair of Libertarian Party candidates recently booted from November’s statewide election ballot to bring attention to what they say are Pennsylvania’s unfair ballot access laws.
The article goes on to report on a bill that woud reform the reigning Democratic-Republican ballot access regime:

A state Senator has introduced a bill he believes will fix the problem. The Voters’ Choice Act would standardize all ballot access requirements regardless of party affiliation.

“We need equal and fair access to the ballot,” said state Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, the lead sponsor of the bill. “If I could get it to the floor, who could vote against it?”
Who could vote against it? I could wager a few guesses. At the top of the list you'd likely find the majority of Democratic and Republican lawmakers, precisely those individuals who benefit most from robbing voters of choice on the ballot and eliminating political competition. Nonetheless, there are reports that the bill is gaining traction among individuals within both ruling parties. Though its lead sponsor is a Republican State Senator, word has it that the bill may soon get a boost from the Democratic Party's State Committee. From Ballot Access News:

According to John A. Murphy, a Nader supporter and a vigorous and passionate fighter for ballot access reform in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party’s State Committee has decided to support SB 252, the ballot access reform bill. Murphy’s source is a close friend who is on that Committee. The Committee will meet on September 24-25 and is expected to endorse the bill. Ballot access activists are welcome to attend the meeting.

SB 252 is based on Delaware’s law. It says that a group that has registration membership of at least one-twentieth of 1% is considered a qualified minor party, and is entitled to nominate by convention. If the bill were law currently, the Libertarian, Green and Constitution Parties would be ballot-qualified. The bill also substantially lowers the number of signatures needed for independent candidates.

That would be a welcome step in the right direction.

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