State Sen. Mike Folmer carries a dog-eared copy of the Pennsylvania Constitution in his breastpocket. When it comes to elections, he opens the booklet to Article 1, Section 5 where it states, “Elections shall be free and equal, and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise thereof.” And then he asks how free and equal elections are in the commonwealth when Republican and Democratic candidates for Congress and row offices need 1,000 signatures to gain access to the ballot while independents or members of a third party are required to obtain upwards of 60,000 signatures. In his view, that makes Pennsylvania’s ballot process unconstitutional. Whether the rules in place are constitutional or not is for the courts to decide. But we agree with him on one count: It’s clearly unfair.
Current law requires members of a third party — the Libertarian Party or the Green Party, for example — or independents to obtain signatures equal to 2 percent of the highest vote-getter in the previous election. That honor went to state Attorney General Kathleen Kane who received 3.1 million votes in 2012.
That means, a third-party candidate in 2014 would need 62,511 signatures just to be allowed on the ballot.
To counteract that, Folmer, who represents parts of Lancaster and Lebanon counties, is again pushing his Voter’s Choice Act. If approved, the act would place all candidates on a level playing field. It would grant ballot access to minor party and independent candidates by allowing them to collect the same number of signatures as is required of major party candidates.
Full Article: A vote for fairness in Pa. elections – Editorial.