Green Party Promotes Strong Democracy in PA
PA Governor Tom Wolf (Democrat) and PA Senator Mike Folmer (Republican) have announced proposals to reform Pennsylvania’s antiquated, expensive, and daunting election system. The Green Party of Pennsylvania (GPPA) reviewed these proposals and found that both include some excellent changes which would eliminate obstructions and make voting easier and more accessible. However, both proposals also have some concerning issues and are missing some key elements of a fair and inclusive system.
Green Party of Pennsylvania
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 20, 2019
Chris Robinson, 215-843-4256, email@example.com
Jay Sweeney, auditor of Falls Township and GPPA delegate from Wyoming County, said, "The Wolf and Folmer proposals contain goals the Green Party can support, including making voting more fair, more secure, and easier. They also contain specific ideas the Green Party can support, such as Wolf's independent redistricting, automatic and same-day voter registration, as well as Folmer's early mail-in voting and no-excuse absentee ballots which both support."
"Unfortunately, neither of these proposals includes recommendations which the Green Party deems essential to strengthen democracy," explained Sheri Miller, co-chair of the PA Green Party. "While I applaud the efforts to improve our system, which is in much need of reform, the most concerning aspect of both proposals is what they are missing. Neither includes the comprehensive recommendations which the Green Party deems essential to strengthen democracy in our Commonwealth."
The GPPA calls for the following:
Voter's Choice Act. This would make elections fair by granting 'third party' and Independent candidates the same nomination signature requirement to gain ballot access as Democrats and Republicans. This would also make it easier for 'third parties' to be recognized by basing party status on lower registration requirements.
"I support the Voter's Choice Act," said Chris Robinson, a GPPA delegate from Philadelphia, "because it would open the door for qualified candidates who are Independents or from 'third parties.' In addition, the Voter's Choice Act would give minor party status to any 'third party' with membership of 0.05 percent of all registered voters."
Voter Verifiable Paper Ballots. Paper ballots are necessary for recounts as well as random audits. Voting systems must employ open source, not proprietary, software.
"They told my parents' generation, 'You can't simply waltz in here and have a say, you gotta count how many jellybeans are in this jar, first,'" recalls Co-chair Alan Smith of GPPA. "The message to me today is, 'You have to navigate a bunch of hurdles and election procedures in order to have a say.' Voting should not be stifled. The current system is institutionalized voter suppression. The act of voting should not only be as easy as possible, but also should be voter verifiable."
The GPPA Platform demands same-day voter registration, an election day holiday, and a voter-verified paper ballots for all voting machines. These changes are essential in order to increase participation and to guarantee the integrity and veracity of our elections.
Ranked-Choice Voting. Voting for candidates in order of preference assures a result that most people can support as well as eliminating the "spoiler" charge against "third parties" and Independents.
Garret Wassermann, vice-chair of the Green Party of Allegheny County, explained the proposal this way, "Voters should not feel pressured to choose a 'lesser evil.' Our antiquated electoral system should be replaced with ranked or score voting that encourages votes for consensus-building candidates and for the platform that best represents most voters, rather than pushing voices out of the debate with charges of 'crowded primaries' or 'spoiler.'"
"During my 2018 campaign for U.S. Senate," related Neal Gale, chair of Montgomery County Green Party, "I met countless voters across Pennsylvania who wanted to vote for me, based on my stand on many issues, but who told me they couldn't do so for fear the Republican candidate would win. It is time to move to an electoral selection system that allows for ranking the voters' choices for candidates. Ranked Choice Voting solves the problem of our citizens' inability to vote for who they REALLY want to vote for, without fear that their vote will be wasted or will allow an unwanted candidate to be elected. It's time!"
Public Financing of Elections. This would make elections truly a contest of ideas and eliminate negative, smear campaigns.
Beth Scroggin, chair of Chester County Green Party, remarked, "In our current system, the winner of the election is often the candidate who raised the most money. As a result, candidates feel pressure to accept corporate contributions. While they may initially claim that the corporate contributions will not influence the decisions they make in office, the candidates soon come to rely on corporate contributions for reelection, at which point they allow those corporate donors to have a hand in how they govern. With publicly-funded elections, elected officials will be free to serve the public."
Emily Cook, a member of Montgomery County Green Party, said, "Small-donor matching is an innovative reform that uses public funds to amplify small private donations. PA would provide qualified candidates with $6 in public funds for every $1 raised from small donors. Other locations have used such a method of public funding of elections. It has diversified their donor pool, helped candidates of modest means run for office, and allowed elected officials to spend more time talking to their constituents instead of dialing for dollars."
Open Primaries. The two corporate parties' primary elections are paid for by all citizens of the Commonwealth, yet, many voters are shut out. Until such time as primary elections are open to all, they should be paid for by the Democratic and Republican Parties, not by the taxpayers of the Commonwealth.
"Today Independent and 'third party' voters make up 14 percent of the total," explained Shane Rielly, a member of the GPPA steering committee from Lackawanna County, "but those taxpayers are shut out of the democratic process even as their tax dollars pay for the cost of primary elections. Allowing all the voters to have a voice in the political process is the decent, American thing to do. Preventing people in your neighborhood from making decisions about their elected leadership is simply wrong, and yet this happens year after year. As more Pennsylvanians leave the corporate-funded parties to register as Independent or 'third party' voters, this issue becomes especially relevant to our political climate."
The Green Party of Pennsylvania supports all measures to insure free, fair, open elections and promote strong democracy. The Green Party is an independent political party that stands in opposition to the two corporate parties. GPPA candidates promote public policy based on the Green Party four pillars: grassroots democracy, nonviolence, ecological wisdom, and social justice/equal opportunity. For further information about GPPA, please visit www.gpofpa.org. Follow GPPA on social media: Facebook and Twitter.
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