The Party belongs to the People, not the Insiders!
About this time every even-numbered election year, we hear the expected whining of third parties, their candidates, and “Independents” about how “unfair” the Pennsylvania ballot access system is. Access to the ballot is a lot less “fair” than in fact it is claimed to be, especially when you analyze how hard it is for challengers to the two major parties to get “access” to the General Election.
Third parties have a different set of rules from the Republicans and Democrats because the R’s and D’s are private establishments that use the taxpayer-financed Primary system to elect their candidates. It’s like the Chamber of Commerce using the Primary ballot to elect its president. It’s taxpayer-financed, and this is a source of confusion for many people. It’s not a “public” election, even though the public is forced to foot the bill.
Do third parties need more signatures to get on the ballot? Yes, but they also have much more time to do so. D’s and R’s get less than a month to obtain 2,000 signatures in a statewide race that must include a minimum number of signatures from at least 10 counties. Third parties have 4 months to circulate their nomination papers to get their signatures. That is over 4 times the amount of time to show their candidates have enough support to be represented on the General Election ballot, where the D’s and R’s have fought so hard to get to via a Primary Election.
Not only to D’s and R’s run expensive, rigorous campaigns in order to win a Primary, just try to challenge the establishment within your own party in a Primary. People wonder why they don’t get “better” candidates from the D’s or R’s. Take a look at the Primary Election process a little more closely and you will find out.
I have a recommendation for people who think third parties are unfairly treated or that we need a “new” party. Get involved in your local Republican or Democratic committee. Thousands of these seats go vacant in local committees across the state (and tens of thousands across the country.)
If you believe we need government to solve every problem imaginable, join your local Democrats. If you believe government is too big, intrusive, and expensive, join the Republicans. Then work for change and help good candidates in the Primary Elections. That is your best chance for reform and change.