Libertarian Party National Committee: Executive Committee Meeting on Ballot Access for Pennsylvania

lppa_logoOn March 23, 2016, there was a Libertarian Party National Committee meeting to discuss the issue of encumbering funds for Pennsylvania ballot access.

The Chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania Shawn House was present for this meeting.

Bill Redpath made a motion to encumber $62,000 for the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania (LPPA) petition drive. An encumbrance plan was sent out earlier today. 21,775 signatures are needed with an anticipated validity rate of 60% so that 36,000 gross signatures would be needed. Between volunteers and the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania, they are expected to cover 1/3 of the needed signatures. The difference between this drive and the one in 2012 is that there is a validity team in place. The cost is anticipated to be $2.50 per signature. The deadline for this effort is August 1, 2016.

Sarwark questioned about the need for this petitioning in light of the potential court case striking down ballot access petition requirements but this is unclear. This is expected to be challenged soon by parties requesting access without submitting signatures.

Matson asked when the window for petitioning opened in which we could have started and how many volunteer signatures were obtained in 2012. Redpath stated that the start date was 2/17/16 and that he doesn’t have the exact figure on volunteer signatures, but it was in three digits.

Goldstein stated that the Democrats and Republicans also have to gather ballot access signatures. LPPA Chair House stated that they consider petitioning to be part of campaigning and is valuable for that purpose.

Lark asked if is this a one-time event or if they can top off the tank as you can in Virgnia. LPPA Chair House wasn’t entirely clear on the answer but was clear that they want to submit the required amount immediately and then keep on submitting signatures. Discussion was had on whether or not Pennsylvania is a challenge state for minor parties.

Olsen asked the Treasurer how the cash flow would work. There is about $73,000 in unrestricted cash with about $12,000 to be taken out for the website redesign project. Illinois petitioning starts on Tuesday with a $50,000 encumbrance.

Redpath noted that there might be an objection based on the fact that there are over 48,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania which is considerably more than the 21,775 signatures needed. However, even the Democrats and Republicans in Pennsylvania have to get petition signatures as previously noted.

Mattson noted concern about the Party’s financial situation and the over-runs in costs in this large petition drives. She wants the Party to be realistic on whether or they will be able to pick up the remaining 1/3 if the volunteers do not come through despite the best of intentions. Mattson would like the affiliate start to collect signatures first to make sure there is joint performance so she substituted a Motion that the LNC encumber $62,000 contingent upon the affiliate providing $7,000 in cash and 3,000 raw volunteer signatures and that no LNC funds go out the door until these conditions are met. Right now, their Board decision is not a commitment to the full $7,000 but rather an amount based on LNC matching funds.

LPPA Chair House confirmed that they have the monies. Their attitude is that they really don’t want to have to rely on LNC funds and are considering paying their own volunteers $1 per signature along with some other plans in order to collect signatures. Apparently they have $18,000 in the till at this point. There was conflicting information on whether or not they wish to spend their own money on ballot access rather than the LNC. Chair House is a brand-new Chair and unfortunately did not have all of the information for which he apologized. Howell stated that there is at least $13,000 clear of other obligations to other causes. Mattson stated that it is not realistic to believe that the petition requirement will be dropped. She further had attempted some fundraising in Pennsylvania and the results have not been promising. Chair House stated that now that they have candidates, the response might be more enthusiastic.

Lark asked if we have actual petitioners ready to go at these rates waiting to see what the LNC does. The answer was no.

Sarwark opined that the LNC will not get involved in a drive that fails. Over-runs must be considered when initiating a drive. It appears to the LNC that there is not unity within the Pennsylvania Party to be committed to the success of this drive. This could easily turn from a $62,000 drive to a $100,000 drive. It just doesn’t feel like a good deal a this time with all this ambivalence.

Redpath expressed great disappointment in the LPPA and their efforts and their failure to commit fully. However, this is vital to our Presidential ticket to be on the ballot in this state which is the 6th most populous state. It is important that there be some kind of National commitment on this call.

Mattson clarified that due to FEC issues, the LPPA could not hand up the money directly to the National Party but she would agree to amend her Motion from “affiliate provide” to “affiliate encumber” with regards to the funds and that her original wording of “volunteer” be struck to just be actual signatures from any source, even if they are paid signatures. She wants a serious commitment from them.

The Motion as amended became: The LNC encumber $62,000 for the Pennsylvania ballot access drive contingent upon the LPP encumbering $7,000 towards this effort and collecting a minimum of 3,000 raw volunteer or paid signatures for this effort.

Redpath proposed an additional amendment allowing earmarked fundraising to be counted towards the LPPA’s obligation. Goldstein opposed stating that this would defeat the whole purpose of LPPA having significant skin in this game. This amendment was defeated.

Sarwark- Y
Goldstein- Y
Hagan- Y
Redpath- Y
Vohra- Y
Mattson- Y
Lark- Y

Bolded motion passed.

This entry was posted in Libertarian Party and tagged on by .

About Caryn Ann Harlos

Caryn Ann Harlos is a paralegal residing in Castle Rock, Colorado and presently serving as the Communications Director for the Libertarian Party of Colorado, Colorado State Coordinator for the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus, as well as Region 1 Representative on the Libertarian National Committee. Articles posted should NOT be considered the opinions of the LPCO, LPRC, or LNC nor always those of Caryn Ann Harlos personally. Caryn Ann's goal is to provide information on items of interest and (sometimes) controversy about the Libertarian Party and minor parties in general not to necessarily endorse the contents.

19 thoughts on “Libertarian Party National Committee: Executive Committee Meeting on Ballot Access for Pennsylvania

  1. George Phillies

    Thanks for the excellent summary.

    The meeting struck me as being more discouraging than the written description. Your mileage may vary. The LNC needed to have a plan set up on this, four years ago. Instead the prior LNC debated really critical issues, for example if Starchild should be addressed as “Mister Starchild”. As usual, Alicia Mattson makes good points on fiscal realism, notably that petition drives keep costing much more than expected.

    “Olsen asked the Treasurer how the cash flow would work. There is about $73,000 in unrestricted cash with about $12,000 to be taken out for the website redesign project. Illinois petitioning starts on Tuesday with a $50,000 encumbrance. ”

    A little math says that they have about $10,000 of the $62,000 to be encumbered, with Connecticut still incoming. On the other hand, there are four months of budget surplus yet to be accumulated on this, plus anything positive that comes out of NatCon. On the third hand, there are other states beyond, not to mention possible overruns in Illinois or PA. The meaning of the recent PA court decision is unclear.

  2. Caryn Ann Harlos Post author

    ==Thanks for the excellent summary.==

    Thank you George. Your encouragement means a great deal to me.

  3. Andy

    “George Phillies
    March 23, 2016 at 23:23
    Thanks for the excellent summary.

    The meeting struck me as being more discouraging than the written description. Your mileage may vary. The LNC needed to have a plan set up on this, four years ago. Instead the prior LNC debated really critical issues, for example if Starchild should be addressed as ‘Mister Starchild’. As usual, Alicia Mattson makes good points on fiscal realism, notably that petition drives keep costing much more than expected.”

    Petition drive prices could easily exceed the LNC ballot access budget this year due to competition with other petition drives that are happening around the country. Right now in California there are multiple statewide initiative petitions going on, some of which have gone up to $4 and $5 per signature (and this does not include overrides on top of this being paid out to petition coordinators).

    Another factor that could lead to the LP having to pay more than the LNC is expecting for ballot access is that the fact that they have delayed starting petition drives which could have already legally started in some states, like Connecticut (which they voted to allocate money for like 5 or 6 weeks ago, but which still has not started gathering signatures due to them taking time to round up their Electoral College slate and stand in candidates for President and Vice President) and Pennsylvania. The longer they delay starting the petition drives that need to be completed for 2016 ballot access the greater the likelihood of them going over budget will be.

  4. Dr. George Martin

    Same ‘ol stuff. LNC members delight in spending other people’s money. What’s the connection between LPPA and specific LNC members? Party “affiliates” should be responsible for their own expenses, with member fees proportionately assigned to pay the mostly non-performing staff. Joe Johnson’s (xLPCO) financial plan applies. Dunce caps and shamed faces in the corner for LNC members who voted to spend Web redesign fee … which could be done by a multitude of member techs (and certainly the responsibility of staff).
    If LNC is ever to be useful for the commonweal, it will have to gather all the various “third party” flags under the Libertarian banner–the only foreseeable way to challenge the entrenched despots of desperation that currently control our lives. LNC is trying to compete for VOTES in the same fashion as the two majors instead of gathering political guerillas to the principles of free choice in government.

  5. ATBAFT

    Approached for contributions for PA drive, I’ve taken a wait and see attitude. While I would vote for any of the LP candidates for Pres., I don’t necessarily want to petition for or financially support any of them until I see who wins the nomination in May. Frankly, several – if nominated – would be a complete embarrassment in trying to win over libertarian-leaning voters. Maybe this uncertainty as to whom the nominee will be is a detriment to ballot drives that begin before the nominating convention. If so, this is yet another reason for having the LP Presidential nominating conventions in the year prior to the election.

  6. Matt Cholko

    I think it is clear that we need to hold our presidential nominating conventions earlier then we have been the last few cycles. It makes no sense to me that we wait until May to do it. It’s like we are purposely costing our candidate fundraising time, making our ballot access drives more expensive and harder on volunteers, and just generally making the presidential campaign process more difficult. Does anyone have a good reason for us to wait until May? What was the reason given when conventions were moved to this time?

    Even just moving it up a couple of months, until March, would make a significant difference, I think.

  7. NewFederalist

    I have to agree with Around The Block A Few Times. I’m still hoping a really good candidate will jump in at the last minute (John Stossel, Andrew Napolitano, Penn Jillette, Drew Carey or a similar luminary) or a serious draft Ron Paul effort gets started. Certainly NOT Jesse Ventura! I think the LP can do better than the current field of candidates. What a year to waste this opportunity.

  8. George Phillies

    ‘What was the reason given when conventions were moved to this time?”

    Once a time they were help in odd years. The notion behind the change was that our candidates could then run in primaries. However, without vastly more resources and press than we currently have, running in primaries is close to pointless. the voters have no idea who our candidates are.

  9. George Phillies

    Certainly it would help in Massachusetts, where we cannot petition until we have the names of the nominees.

  10. Richard Winger

    There is a colossal misunderstanding reflected above when people say “Republicans and Democrats also need to petition” in Pennsylvania. Republican nominees do not need to petition. Democratic nominees do not need to petition. But our nominees do need to petition.

    Petitions to put a candidate on a primary ballot are required for the state purpose of keeping the primary ballots from being too crowded. But for parties that nominate by convention (as we do), there is no equivalent need for petitions. “Crowded ballots” is not a problem in a convention.

    In Michigan and Indiana, many Democrats and Republicans also need to petition to get themselves on a primary ballot, whereas Libertarians in Michigan and Indiana nominate by convention and never need any petition. But no one in Michigan or Indiana seems to think that is strange. I am disappointed that when people talk about Pennsylvania, they don’t get the difference between a primary candidate for a person hoping to get on a primary ballot, versus what Pennsylvania makes us do, which is petition after we have nominees.

  11. Andy

    Yes, but the fact of the matter is that Democrats and Republicans in Pennsylvania do have to gather petition signatures to get on primary ballots.

    Pennsylvania has an extremely difficult requirement for a party to obtain major party status. It would require the LP to get something like 800,000 plus voter registrations (it is something like 15% of the registered voters). There ought to be a lawsuit against this to create a more reasonable standard.

    If the LP of PA had major party status then perhaps they could nominate via convention.

  12. Darcy G Richardson

    “I have to agree with Around The Block A Few Times. I’m still hoping a really good candidate will jump in at the last minute (John Stossel, Andrew Napolitano, Penn Jillette, Drew Carey or a similar luminary) or a serious draft Ron Paul effort gets started. Certainly NOT Jesse Ventura! I think the LP can do better than the current field of candidates. What a year to waste this opportunity.” – New Federalist

    Agreed. This is shaping up to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for America’s nationally-organized third parties…a well-known candidate — a telegenic and witty personality who is quick on his or her feet — could make all the difference.

  13. Andy

    “ATBAFT
    March 24, 2016 at 08:43
    Approached for contributions for PA drive, I’ve taken a wait and see attitude. While I would vote for any of the LP candidates for Pres., I don’t necessarily want to petition for or financially support any of them until I see who wins the nomination in May.”

    The ballot access petitions in Pennsylvania contain more than just the presidential ticket. They also include candidates for US Senate, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer, as well as candidates for US House, State Senate, and State House. So even if you are not thrilled with who ends up being on the LP’s presidential ticket, there are other Libertarian Party candidates running for office in Pennsylvania, and they are included on the same petition form as the presidential ticket, so by gathering signatures on donating money for the ballot access drive you’d be helping them get on the ballot as well.

    Putting this off until after the national convention will just increase the odds of the petition drive failing, and/or drive up the cost of doing the petition drive.

  14. Andy

    “so by gathering signatures on donating money ”

    Should read, “so by gathering signatures or donating money…”

  15. Pingback: Caryn Ann Harlos: Libertarian Party National Committee: Executive Committee Meeting on Ballot Access for Pennsylvania | American Third Party Report

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