On September 17, a bill was introduced to the Pennsylvania State Senate by Senator Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) called the Voters’ Choice Act.Â If passed, it would make the requirements for ballot access for independents and minor party candidates in the general election the same as those for major party candidates in their primaries.Â It would require minor parties to nominate candidates according to their own rules and at their own expense, because of their lack of primaries.Â The bill would also make the threshhold for a minor party “any political body which claims at least 0.05 percent of the total number of registered voters in the Commonwealth.”Â Currently, only the Republicans and Democrats are officially recognized parties in Pennsylvania.
“No state makes it tougher to get on the ballot than Pennsylvania, as independent and minor party candidates face significantly more difficult barriers than Republicans and Democrats,” Folmer said. “My bill would enhance our democratic process by leveling the playing field.”Â Folmer is known to some third partisans for having endorsed Ron Paul, and known to Pennsylvanians as having been voted in to replace a Senator caught up in the pay raise scandal.
The Voters’ Choice Act is closely modelled after neighboring Delaware’s ballot access laws.Â The text of the law and a promotional brochure can be downloaded here, at the Pennyslvania Ballot Access Coalition website.
The Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition is a group of third parties and independents who, after many disastrous years for ballot access in Pennsylvania, set out to pass the Voters’ Choice Act.Â In July 2005, Michael Badnarik, John Murphy, Ken Krawchuk, David Jahn, Jim Clymer, Tom McLaughlin, and Jennaro Pullano gathered in the Harrisburg capitol building to introduce their piece of proposed legislation.Â Three years later, it has been adopted and introduced by a State Senator, and a few members of the Coalition are running for office:Â John Murphy, for US Congress; Titus North, also for US Congress; Jay Sweeney, for State House.
Senator Folmer is also currently looking for co-sponsors.Â Without them, the bill has no realistic chance of being passed.Â If you live in Pennsylvania, I strongly urge you to contact your State Senator and tell them to co-sponsor this bill.Â It is essential to the survival and healthfulness of third parties and independent candidates in our state.