Pennsylvania Green Party members are condemning the “utter failure and disregard for the authority of federal courts” concerning alternative party ballot access. Jay Sweeney of Wyoming County said a July 2015 court decision that found two sections of the Pennsylvania Election Code unconstitutional as applied to Green, Constitution, and Libertarian parties determined that “the extraordinary signature requirement, in combination with the requirement that defending candidates pay the costs of validating those signatures, is unconstitutional. Still, the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Administration [of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf] have failed to recognize the power of that judgment.”
A bill pending in the state Senate addresses the issue, but there has only been one committee hearing on the bill. Green Party activist Emily Cook of Montgomery County said, “In September, the State Government Committee held a hearing on the Voter Choice Act, yet most of the senators on the committee failed to even show up for the hearing. Since then no further movement has occurred. In the alternative, the Secretary of the Commonwealth can decree a more reasonable standard for ballot qualification until such time as the General Assembly acts.”
On Monday, May 16, a hearing will be held in federal court in Philadelphia on an injunction asking the federal courts to intervene and instruct the Commonwealth to comply with the decision. The injunction seeks to have Secretary Pedro Cortes, under his administrative authority, place the Green, Constitution, Libertarian candidates on the ballot. A second option would be for the signature requirement for the parties to be reduced to the same number that Republicans and Democrats need, which is 2,000. Cortes is insisting that the minor parties be required to achieve a minimum signature level of 21,775.