Ballot access eased for third-party, independent candidates
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Third-party and independent candidates will have an easier time running for office in Pennsylvania following settlement of a longstanding federal lawsuit.
The settlement approved by a federal judge earlier this month includes a provision that such candidates will need far fewer petition signatures to qualify for the ballot, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports .
Such candidates running for U.S. senator, governor or state row offices previously had to get at least 2 percent of the votes cast for the top statewide vote-getter in the last general election, which could total more than 30 times the number required for Democrats and Republicans.
The court agreement caps the signature requirement at 5,000 for third-party candidates, who also no longer will have to pay for legal challenges, which have run in the tens of thousands of dollars.
The Green Party of Pennsylvania on Monday issued a statement calling the decision “a major victory for democracy.”
“This is a day that, not only our adversaries, but also our friends, never thought we’d see,” said Carl Romanelli, a 2006 U.S. Senate candidate thrown off the ballot following a challenge. “It also shows that folks of varied political views can come together for the betterment of all.”
Libertarian Dale Kerns also hailed the decision.
“If I’m not spending months on end trying to fight to get on the ballot, well then we can spend all of our time campaigning and talking about the ideas with voters and debating with each other, so that the election is actually what it’s supposed to be,” he told the Inquirer.
The Green Party said, however, that the ruling doesn’t apply to congressional candidates, meaning third-party candidates for the U.S. House must still get 2 percent of the highest vote-getter in the previous election.
“We truly hope the Legislature will act and properly reform our state’s election issues,” said Jocolyn Bowser-Bostick, a member of the party’s steering committee.
Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com