The 9-12 Project of Central PA

"You Are NOT Alone!"



August 12, 2010


Oliver Hall - (202) 248-9294


Major Party Challenges Filed Against Every Non-Major Party Candidate
for Statewide Office in Pennsylvania Are an Assault on Democracy that
Attempts to Deny Voters a Free Choice at the Polls, State
Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties Say

HARRISBURG, PA – In a display of non-partisan unity on behalf of
all Pennsylvania voters who desire a free choice of candidates in the
November 2, 2010 general election, the state’s Constitution, Green
and Libertarian Parties today called on Republicans and Democrats to
withdraw the nomination petition challenges that major party
operatives filed against every non-major party candidate for statewide
office in Pennsylvania. The minor parties also called on the major
party candidates who are the intended beneficiaries of the challenges
to condemn them as an attempt to suppress voter choice in the upcoming
election. Under Pennsylvania’s uniquely punitive and discriminatory
ballot access scheme, minor party and independent candidates may be
ordered to pay $80,000 or more in litigation costs and attorneys’
fees if they defend against such challenges.

The Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties specifically called
on Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Corbett to condemn the
challenge filed against Libertarian Party gubernatorial nominee
Marakay Rogers. They called on Republican congressional candidate Pat
Meehan to condemn the challenge to independent candidate Jim
Schneller. And the minor parties called on Democratic senatorial
nominee Joe Sestak to condemns and withdraw the challenge that he
personally filed to Green Party senatorial nominee Mel Packer.
Corbett, Meehan and Sestak must condemn the challenges whether or not
they were involved in the filing, the minor parties say, because they
are the intended beneficiaries.

"These petition challenges filed against every non-major party
candidate for statewide office in Pennsylvania prove that when it
comes to elections, Republicans and Democrats both stand against voter
choice," said Constitution Party State Chair Wes Thompson. "Voters
cannot allow our democratic process to be hijacked by private,
entrenched political parties that want to decide who we can and cannot
vote for."

"Pennsylvania Greens have fought to give voters a free choice on
election day, and now we are asking voters to stand with us," said
Green Party State Chair I.K. Samways. "Tell Joe Sestak that you oppose
his anti-democratic effort to deny you a free choice of candidates in

"No one knows the potential for corruption to infect the petition
challenge process better than Attorney General Tom Corbett," said
Libertarian Party State Chair Mik Robertson. "It is a shame that so
many soldiers have died to bring ballot choices to people in Iraq and
Afghanistan, while the political machines in Pennsylvania work to
restrict ballot choices for our own citizens."

In 2004, Pennsylvania courts adopted a uniquely punitive ballot
access scheme, by authorizing the assessment of litigation costs
against minor party and independent candidates who defend their
nomination petitions when challenged by a private party. Prior to
2004, no state in the nation, including Pennsylvania, had ever ordered
candidates to pay such costs. That is because, as the Supreme Court of
the United States observed more than four decades ago in Harman v.
Forsenius, "It has long been established that a State may not impose a
penalty upon those who exercise a right guaranteed by the
Constitution." Several landmark Supreme Court decisions since then
have reaffirmed that states may not impose mandatory financial burdens
on candidates and voters as a condition of their participation in

Nevertheless, in 2004 Commonwealth Court Judge James Gardner Colins
ordered independent presidential candidates Ralph Nader and Peter
Miguel Camejo to pay $81,102.19 in litigation costs to the parties who
challenged their nomination petitions. Relying on that
unconstitutional decision, in 2006 Commonwealth Court Judge James R.
Kelley ordered Green Party senatorial candidate Carl Romanelli to pay
his challengers more than $80,000 in costs and fees.

Attorney General Tom Corbett’s Grand Jury investigation into the
"Bonusgate" scandal subsequently revealed that employees of the State
House Democratic Caucus had illegally prepared the Nader-Camejo and
Romanelli petition challenges at taxpayer expense. The Pennsylvania
courts still refused to set aside the judgments awarding costs to the
challengers. The candidates continue to oppose enforcement of the

"In the wake of the Bonusgate scandal, which exposed rampant
corruption in the petition challenge process, the Pennsylvania courts
ratified a discriminatory ballot access scheme that subjects minor
party and independent candidates to bank-breaking and clearly
unconstitutional costs and fees if they defend their nomination
petitions," said Oliver Hall, an attorney with the Washington,
D.C.-based Center for Competitive Democracy, which is representing
Pennsylvania’s Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties in a
federal lawsuit challenging state election laws. "If Pennsylvania
voters want a free choice at the polls, they must stand up for
candidates’ rights to seek office, regardless of partisan

The Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties say that Republicans
and Democrats must pledge not to file nomination petition challenges
until Pennsylvania’s unconstitutional election laws are reformed.
The Voter Choice Act (SB 252), which State Senator Mike Folmer (R-48)
and eight co-sponsors introduced in February 2009, would enact the
needed reforms by eliminating the discriminatory requirement that
minor party and independent candidates submit nomination petitions
with tens of thousands of signatures. The bill, however, has
languished in committee.

"The time is ripe for reform, but so far it’s business as usual in
Harrisburg," Hall said. "The major parties are going all out to deny
Pennsylvanians a free choice of candidates in November, and they will
continue to do so until voters make it clear that they will not
tolerate such anti-democratic tactics."

Views: 11

Comment by Nick Adams on August 13, 2010 at 6:37am
Do I smell a TAX revolt ?
The question is how can people keep sending hard earned dollar's to people that would stoup to any level to get relected.The people in this Country are already angry ,I already fear a horrific backlash for any that attempt to steal this falls election.May God help them cause no one elese will.


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