Green Party Hails Federal Court Ruling Concerning Pennsylvania's Restrictive Ballot Access
The Green Party of Pennsylvania applauds Friday's Federal Court ruling which has declared Pennsylvania's restrictive ballot access procedures as unconstitutional. The July 24, Order by US District Judge, Lawrence Stengel takes aim at the restrictive, two-tiered scheme of forcing a disproportionate number of voter signatures, compared to the requirement for major parties; and the threat or imposition of litigation costs and fees on candidates whose nominating petitions are challenged successfully. In cases where independent candidates prevail in a petition challenge, the legal costs can be as high as $50,000.00, Judge Stengel properly notes.
"The restrictions placed on third party candidates is equivalent to a modern day poll tax. Judge Stengel's decision has made it clear that limiting access to the ballot is an unacceptable infringement on the citizen's rights to self-determination and their ability to elect candidates that truly represent the citizen's views and desire for change," said Hillary Kane, Secretary, Green Party of Pennsylvania.
The initiating suit was filed in 2012 on behalf of Green, Libertarian and Constitution Parties of Pennsylvania, as well as various individuals from the three parties. All three parties have long held the notion that Pennsylvania's treatment of third party and independent candidates blatantly violates not only the US Constitution, but also the Pennsylvania Constitution, which states that "elections must be free and equal." The Greens have been plaintiffs in several actions during the past 15 years, and have won some minor victories, but see Judge Stengel's Order as the most resounding, by far.
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