October 19th, 2007
The Pennsylvania parties that were considered by the state to be “qualified” political parties until November 2006 (the Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties) are planning a new election law challenge to several Pennsylvania election policies. Other parties may join as well.
One part of the case will charge that many Pennsylvania counties are illegally refusing to tally any write-in votes. The parties are likely to unite behind a single write-in candidate in the partisan State Supreme Court Judicial race being held on November 6, 2007. Counties that fail to tally any write-ins will be confronted by affidavits from voters who will swear that they cast such a write-in. In November 2006, 22 counties (including Philadelphia) did not tally any write-in votes for any office, and that pattern is likely to repeat in November 2007.
Another part of the case may challenge Pennsylvania’s refusal to provide the parties with a list of their registered members. Lawsuits from Colorado, Oklahoma, New York, New Jersey and Iowa have won on this issue.
Still another part of the case may challenge the unique Pennsylvania practice of charging candidates for the large administrative costs of determining if their petitions are valid.
Finally, the case is likely to challenge the law that requires unqualified parties to circulate petitions to get their candidates on the ballot. Specifically, the wording on such petitions will be challenged. The petition forms say that the signers “hereby nominate” the listed candidates. During the 2006 ballot access litigation, the state hotly denied that petition signers are really nominating the listed candidates. The court agreed that petition signers are not really nominating those candidates. Therefore, the lawsuit will probably argue that the petition forms themselves are improperly worded and should be replaced with “I hereby request that the listed party should be placed on the ballot”, or something similar. Similar lawsuits against misleading petition wording have been successful in 6 other states (Kentucky, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, and West Virginia) in the past.