Green, Libertarian, and Constitution Parties break down Pennsylvania ballot access barriers


KPFA Weekend News, 07.01.2016
Pennsylvania is one of the 11 "swing" states - Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia - where presidential election outcomes are unpredictable. That didn't stop the Green, Libertarian, and Constitution Parties from joining forces in a lawsuit to break down its ballot access access barriers. 


KPFA Weekend News Anchor Lola Acanmu:  Earlier this week a Federal District Court Judge handed a huge victory to Green, Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates attempting to qualify for the 2016 ballot in the State of Pennsylvania. Judge Lawrence Stengel reduced the number of signatures that the parties are required to gather to get their names on the Pennsylvania ballot from 22,000 to 5000. Like this year’s federal court victory in Georgia, this decision breaks down some of the toughest ballot access barriers in the U.S. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Carl Romanelli, the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coordinator for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Carl Romanelli, the complexity of your Pennsylvania ballot access law is like the patchwork quilt of ballot access laws all over the country. It's enough to make eyes glaze over, but can you explain this victory in broad strokes? 
Carl Romanelli: Sure, Pennsylvania had a ridiculous standard that was very difficult for third party candidates to meet and a horrible challenge system that allowed old party money to bully us off of the ballot after we filed the crazy number of signatures. And through our lawsuit, we reversed that and, instead of a minimum number of signatures this year being 22,000, that number is now 5000. 
KPFA: OK, and do you have the 5,000 signatures required to qualify the Green Party to get Jill Stein on the ballot now?

CR: I could verify we have at least that amount in raw signatures yet to be verified, but we expect a major harvest at the end of the Four of July holiday.
KPFA: And isn't the rule that you need to collect twice the requirement, imagining that half of the signatures will be disqualified? 

Carl Romanelli, Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coordinator for Jill Stein 2016 CR: It's always a good practice because there are sometimes very goofy ways in which the state will determine a signer's signature is no good - an omission of a middle initial or someone moving or an incongruency in the date, so it's always a good practice to have at least twice as many more if you can do that. And again this is new territory. We don't know how the state will evaluate these nominating papers because in the past they had given a cursory review, knowing that the in depth analysis, if it were to come, would come from one of our adversaries challenging our candidacy. 
KPFA: Pennsylvania is one of the 11 or 12 states called swing states, because its outcomes have been unpredictable in recent presidential elections. It’s also a Rust Belt state hard hit by the trade agreements that have been such an issue in this election. Are you prepared to respond to the spoiler argument that will no doubt be thrown at you for getting Jill Stein on the ballot there?  
CR: Of course I am, and I've been prepared to answer such a question for my 16 years as a Green. First of all, I don't think any vote belongs to any candidate or political party. It belongs to the voter who casts it. So, if someone wants to cast their vote for us, we're honored and appreciative for it, and those are the people we are appealing to. If other individuals think they're voting strategically by staying with the old parties, that's their Constitutional right. But with the issues you mentioned that hit Pennsylvania hard, those candidates aren't all that different on those issues. There is no old party candidate to save us, so how dare they accuse us of spoiling a system that we know is already rotten? That just can't be done.
KPFA: And that was Carl Romanelli, Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coordinator for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. In Berkeley, for Pacifica, KPFA Radio, I'm Ann Garrison. 

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