As published in the PIttsburgh Post Gazette, December 25, 2006
The real voting problem: third-party or independent candidates are shut out
Paper ballots may stop votes disappearing from recounts (“In Praise of Paper” by Bruce Schneier, Dec. 3 Forum), but they won’t stop candidates disappearing from Pennsylvania ballots.
2006 saw no Pennsylvania third party or independent statewide candidates because unfair rules required over 67,000 ballot access signatures. Major-party statewide nominees needed only their 2,000 primary election signatures.
When the Green Party’s U.S. Senate candidate attempted ballot access, Democratic Party lawyers filed suit resulting in ballot denial and a staggering $1 million fine.
Incumbent parties use law and crippling financial threats to silence candidates who serve us all by bringing uncomfortable topics to political debate. Thus, paper backups won’t stop disappearing debate from disappearing candidates.
What will? The Voters’ Choice Act.
Since 2005, PaBallotAccess.org, a coalition of Libertarian, Green, Constitutional, Reform and other parties, has promoted the VCA. It would implement fairer ballot access rules. We need to push this again in the 2007 Legislature.
While unverifiable recounting is a concern, a far greater concern is censoring debate by unfairly prohibiting ballot access.