IPR Exclusive: Libertarian race in PA brings minor party status for at least 2 years

Story by Kimberly Wilder of www.onthewilderside.com . Last updated 11/4/09 at 1:36pm.

I just got off the phone with Marakay Rogers. This information is based on the math she did for her race yesterday. The vote totals for the Pennsylvania races can be found: here.*

In Pennsylvania, in order to gain “minor party status” for the next two years, a party must receive 2% of the vote related to the statewide candidate on the ballot that year with the highest vote totals.

In her race for Superior Court Judge, which is a statewide race, Marakay Rogers received about 13% of the vote of the highest vote getter. (Because this was an “off” election year, the other highest candidate was only about 930,000 votes.) That means that Marakay Rogers’ campaign success has secured the Libertarian Party in Pennsylvania its minor party status for the next two years (regardless of what may happen with the current ballot access lawsuit in that state, or with the 2010 races, when parties have another chance to meet the vote threshold.)

*The charts showing Rogers’ numbers reflect the number “2%” of the total in her race, though in a four-seat race, that figure translates to “8%”.

24 thoughts on “IPR Exclusive: Libertarian race in PA brings minor party status for at least 2 years

  1. Aroundtheblockafewtimes

    So close. And all those truly wasted votes that would have gone Libertarian but were spent on the GOP or Dem candidates instead. If you want the LP to amount to anything, your vote is wasted only if you give it to the major parties.

  2. Richard Winger

    Congratulations to Third Party Watch on being the first to cover Marakay’s excellent vote. However, there is no 15% vote test in Pennsylvania election law. A party is not truly on the ballot until it has registration membership of 15%.

  3. Richard Winger

    Also, Pennsylvania precedent says that a party that has “minor party status” (which is useless for ballot access, except for special elections) does not lose it if it fails to perform in an odd-year election. The Pennsylvania Libertarian “minor party status” would have continued into the 2010 election even without any special showing in 2009.

  4. Mik Robertson

    This year’s results mean at the very least the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania will be able to retain minor party status through the 2011 election, which may afford more special election opportunities.

    Ideally we will be successful in the challenge to the Pennsylvania election code and level the playing field much more substantially.

  5. Richard Winger

    My brain has a broken wire that causes “Independent Political Report” to come out as “Third Party Watch.”

    The famous Pennsylvania ballot access pending in federal court isn’t famous enough, I guess. I keep talking about it. The case was filed April 21, 2009, and it had its first hearing October 19, 2009. Only two minor party activists showed up to be in the audience in Philadelphia. Judge Lawrence Stengel said several times how interesting the case is. It challenges the 15% registration membership test for a party to be ballot-qualified. It challenges the failure of the state to have tallied the Cynthia McKinney write-ins, and the failure of many counties to count any write-ins. And it challenges the unique Pennsylvania system that charges candidates for the costs of removing them from the ballot, if their petitions aren’t successful.

  6. Kimberly Wilder Post author

    Okay, I straightened out part of my story based on input of Richard Winger, who is the ballot access expert. But, I believe, that the 2% vote does mean something (ie: not that it is only number of registered voters). And, this is a comment at Ballot Access News that explains it:

    – Tom McLaughlin Says:
    November 4th, 2009 at 8:26 am

    The Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania is currently the only qualified minor political party in Pennsylvania. The current qualification is valid through the 2010 Election cycle. Marakay Rogers vote count should extend the Libertarian Party’s qualification through the 2011 Election Cycle. Under the current Pennsylvania Election Code Minor Political Party status still requires party candidates to collect the same number of signatures as indpendent and political body for ballot access, but it does require the state to print the party name as a choice on the Voter Rgistration Forms and allows the party to name its candidate in an Special Election without petitioning. This was how Marakay Rogers gained ballot access in this Special Election for Superior Court Justice. –

    I stand by for corrections by Richard Winger here, or maybe I will get an e-mail to him begging for clarity.


  7. Ross Levin

    Alright, this is a little bit of good news. I got my mom to vote for Marakay Rogers! Wish she was elected, though…

  8. NewFederalist

    I voted for her yesterday. I am a bit suspicious of a Green turned Libertarian in several areas (like 2nd Amendment rights) but what the hell.

  9. Third Party Revolution

    Well that’s a good thing for the LP of Penn. Overall, I believe that yesterday’s election was ok for third parties, even though there were some benefits like this and it could have been much better.

  10. Trent Hill

    It could’ve been better (Like, say Daggett pulling 20% and Hoffman winning), but yesterday was very good for local third partiers.

  11. NewFederalist

    Trent- Hoffman wasn’t “third party”. He was (and is) a Republican. He will win this seat next year as a Republican with the Conservative Party of New York’s nomination.

  12. Richard Winger

    If Hoffman had won the election yesterday, I would classify it as an election victory for a minor party. What counts is the ballot label that wins, not how the candidate is registered. After all, Bill Owens is a registered independent, but no one is claiming New York voters elected an independent to Congress. Also there was a Conservative Party registrant in Congress from Long Island, New York, during the 1980’s, but no one said that was a Conservative Party victory, because he was elected with mostly Republican votes.

    It is different in fusion states that show (by the order of party names) which party the candidate is a member of. But in New York, it is impossible from looking at the ballot to know how any candidate is registered, so the only fair way to judge the outcome is by which party line produced the most votes for that winner.

  13. Kimberly Wilder

    As someone from NY, I agree with Richard Winger’s assessment.

    You have to say that Hoffman was a Conservative. He was not running on any line that told the voter he was Republican.

    On the ballot, it said “Conservative Party.” So, that is the party that would have gotten the credit for electing him.

  14. Jeremy Young

    Mary DeCamp, Green Party candidate for Tucson City Council did very well last night. She pulled in 6.11% of the vote and made life very difficult for the Democratic incumbent in that district, Karin Uhlich. Uhlich won reelection by less than a single percentage point.

    In general, there appears to have been an anti-Democratic, anti-incumbent mood in the Tucson City Council elections. Councilwoman Nina Trasoff lost reelection and even Richard Fimbres won by single digits. What makes this particularly impressive is that all three Republican candidates were recruited by robocalls to random Republican voters asking them to run for City Council.

    DeCamp’s performance is impressive given that the Green Party has been on the ballot in Arizona for just over a year. This is the best performance by a third party candidate in the state, if I remember correctly, since Vance Hansen (Green) and William Toel (Independent) each polled 8% against Jon Kyl for U.S. Senate in 1998, in a race where there was no Democratic candidate.

  15. Richard Winger

    In 2008, Arizona Libertarian nominee Mike Renzulli polled 17.44% for State Senate in the 14th district; Libertarian nominee James Ianmuzo polled 14.00% in the State House 7th district race; Mark Phelps polled 13.49% for State House 27th district.

    Also in 2008, Green nominee Jack Kretzer polled 23.57% for State Senate, 24th district.

    All the races I mention in this e-mail only had one major party running, so one can make a good case that the 2009 Tucson city council showing is more impressive than those 2008 examples. I am making this comment only because comment #18 also mentions the type of race with only one major party opponent, and I didn’t want people to think no minor party candidate had got as much as 8% in all those years (also, that US Senate race was in 2000, not 1998).

  16. Aroundtheblockafewtimes

    So where’s the list of all the dogcatchers, judges of elections, park advisors, and the like that the LP won this year? [Yes, I know you all work very hard at these postions.]

  17. Trent Hill

    “Trent- Hoffman wasn’t “third party”. He was (and is) a Republican. He will win this seat next year as a Republican with the Conservative Party of New York’s nomination.”

    Ditto to what Richard said. He was running on a third party ballot-line–that’s all that matters.

  18. Jeremy Young

    Richard, thanks for the corrections. My comment was only based on my recollections, and you’re absolutely right that those recollections were faulty.

  19. Mik Robertson

    @20 There is a list of elected Libertarians on the LP website, although the Pennsylvania list was incomplete the last time I checked. It was actually a pretty good year for us, with about 60% of our candidates on the November ballot elected. Many were township supervisor, borough council, and mayor positions.

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