Pennsylvania’s ballot access process is one of the most hotly-contested in the country. On July 9, 2014, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Constitution, Green, and Libertarian Parties of Pennsylvania did have standing to bring a claim challenging Pennsylvania’s “method of checking ballot access petitions.” The plaintiffs challenged two provisions of Pennsylvania’s election code, Title 25 §§ 2911(b) and 2937 arguing that combined the two provisions are unconstitutional. The argument stems from the requirement of §2911(b) that minor parties and political organizations must obtain a certain number of signatures to get on the ballot. However, under §2937 if those signatures are successfully challenged the candidates may be held financially liable. Read together, these two provisions arguably act as a barrier for candidates of minor parties and political organizations. The appellate court merely ruled on standing and did not intend to prejudge the merits of the case.
Currently, pending before Third Circuit’s Eastern District Court of Pennsylvannia is the case of Green Party of Pennsylvania v Aichele, which challenges several other aspects of the Pennsylvania ballot petition process. The plaintiffs are challenging the “ban on out-of-state circulators, the restriction on signers living in different counties signing the same sheet, the restriction that only registered voters (as opposed to people eligible to register) may sign, and notarization of each sheet.”
These challenges beg the question: just how bad are Pennsylvania ballot access laws? In its 5 States with the Worst Ballot Access Laws, the Independent Voter Network (IVNIVN) did not list Pennsylvania as one of the five worst states. This might imply that Pennsylvania’s ballot access laws are not among the worst in the nation. However, according Ballot-Access.org “Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Alabama are the only states that have had a Democratic-Republican ballot monopoly for both previous midterm years, 2006 and 2010, for all statewide office.”