3rd Party Candidates Hamstrung by Discriminatory Election Laws

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Libertarian Party of Pittsburgh
contacts: Harold Kyriazi: 412-478-4012 (cell); htk@pitt.edu
David Posipanka: 412-983-5451 (cell); 412-464-0660 (home)
Pittsburgh, PA — August 15, 2006

The Libertarian Party of Pittsburgh is sad to announce that one of its most popular and energetic candidates, David Posipanka of Homestead, has been forced to withdraw from his race for State Representative in the 35th district.

After having laboriously gone door-to-door in various Mon Valley neighborhoods to collect 446 signatures from residents in order to get his name on the November ballot, a legal challenge to his candidacy was brought by two White Oak residents who are neighbors of the two-time Democrat incumbent, Marc Gergely. Additionally, the lawyer who drew up the legal papers is a childhood friend of Mr. Gergely’s, and it seems likely that either Mr. Gergely’s campaign or the local Democratic Party Committee is paying for the legal challenge, which sought to invalidate many of the signatures on Mr. Posipanka’s nomination papers.

The challenge to Posipanka’s nomination papers, which had been accepted by the State Elections Bureau on August 1st, was filed on August 8th, and Posipanka was served with court papers the evening of August 10th by a local constable. Local Libertarian Party database manager and Posipanka campaign advisor, Harold Kyriazi, estimated from careful database work, that Posipanka would fall about 40 signatures shy if he sought to fight the court challenge, because about 110 of the signatures seemed to be from residents who aren’t registered to vote.

Not wishing to travel all the way to Harrisburg on a workday for what would likely be a losing effort, Posipanka decided to submit to the request of Gergely’s lawyer friend, who brought a withdrawal form to Posipanka’s house the day after “informing him” about the possibility of punitive legal fees if the case went to court.

Said Posipanka, “I don’t blame anyone for using any and all legal means at their disposal to win, but I’m a little surprised that Mr. Gergely feels threatened by me, seeing as how I only got 9% of the vote in my previous race against him. I guess it’s the fear of the current ‘Throw the bums out’ voter sentiment, after the illegal pay grab fiasco from last year. Frankly, though, I’m a little disappointed in him, for not wanting to engage in a healthy exchange of ideas for the fall election. Having only one candidate on the ballot is something we associate more with dictatorships than with America.”

Major party candidates need only collect 300 signatures during the weeks before the Spring Primary, whereas minor party candidates need to solicit either 300 or 2% of that district’s previous election’s highest winning vote total, whichever is higher. This means that in some cases, a minor party candidate needs to collect almost 600 signatures while major party candidates need only 300. For statewide offices the situation is infinitely worse: this year, any minor party candidate for Governor or U.S. Senate needed 67,000 valid signatures, while major party candidates needed only 2,000.

“These sorts of shenanigans are not only unfair, but a direct violation of the Pennsylvania constitution, which stipulates that ‘elections shall be free and equal,’ said local party chair Dave Powell, from Morningside. “In my book, 67,000 does not equal 2,000. And, if minor party candidates for the state house needed only the 300 signatures needed by major party candidates, David Posipanka would still be on this year’s ballot.”

“It is our hope that the people of Pennsylvania will get behind a bill we’ve tried all year to have introduced in the state legislature, that will rectify the situation. It’s called the Voter’s Choice Act,” said local LP secretary, Henry Haller, of Shadyside. “This proposed legislation is the result of the efforts of a group called the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition, which has representatives not only from the Libertarian Party, but the Green, Constitution, Reform, and Socialist parties, and even the decidedly non-libertarian Prohibition Party, among others. It seeks to implement in Pennsylvania the same simple and fair ballot access standards used in neighboring Delaware.”

More about the VCA may be found at: http://www.paballotaccess.org/voters_choice_act.html.
The LP of Pittsburgh represents the approximately 2,800 registered Libertarians in Allegheny County. It maintains a website at www.lppgh.org, and may be contacted there, or by phone at 412-904-2976.

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