Free and Equal Elections

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Commentary: Free and Equal elections
By: Louis R. Jasikoff
Chair Pennsylvania Libertarian Party
Contact: [email protected]

The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania states in Article 1, Section 5 that "Elections shall be free and equal; and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage."

In the current election cycle Victor P. Stabile, Chairman of the Cumberland County Republican Committee is running for the office of Superior Court Judge. In 2008 he led the charge to preclude Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr and vicepresidential candidate Wayne Allyn Root from appearing on the Pennsylvania ballot even after the Libertarian Party collected over 60,000 signatures from registered voters in Pennsylvania. In the most recent election cycle Mr. Stabile praised the efforts of the Republican Party to remove all third party candidates from the statewide ballot in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Stabile wrote, "I am very pleased to report to you that challenges to the Green, Tea Party, and Libertarian candidates for state-wide office have been successful and these third party candidates will not be appearing on the November ballot." He went on to say the following; "Voters do not get disenfranchised when fraud is uncovered. Unfortunately, this seems to be the
process we are left with to deal with these situations until this type of impropriety is prosecuted."

So let’s examine some of the alleged fraud, to which Mr. Stabile alluded. The Republican lawyers challenged the legitimacy of more than 2,000 signatures submitted by Betsy Summers. Her purported fraud and egregious error was in signing her petition ‘Betsy Summers,’ as she was to appear on the ballot, rather than ‘Elisabeth Summers’ as she is listed on the voter registration
rolls. I would hope this impropriety does not rise to the level of prosecution that Mr. Stabile speaks of in his comments. The attorneys challenged nomination papers in which a notary entered the county where the petitioner lived, rather than the county in which the signatures were gathered. Signatures of voters who signed their names where they should have printed it, and printed it where they were supposed to sign it were challenged. Dates that did not have the full year filled out were challenged. They flagged entries that matched voter registration cards but whose address disagreed with the State’s outdated
SURE data base, and the list goes on and on. Anything to subvert free and fair elections. But the abuse did not stop there, as lawyers for the Republican Party then gave the Libertarian candidates a choice: drop out now or face fines personally of over $100,000 if the challenges proved successful. Yes, economic intimidation is now the preferred tactic used to keep third parties
off the ballot and circumvent the Constitution of Pennsylvania, a tactic instituted and effectively utilized by the Democrat Party against Carl Romanelli.

I applaud Mr. Stabile’s fervor to promote the Republican Party as a party partisan; but being a party partisan should not be the qualification for a Superior Court Judge. We need judges who believe in the Commonwealth’s Constitution, and the rule of law and that above all else, our elections are to be fair and equal as prescribed by that Constitution. We need individuals who
understand that we have men and women dying in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere around the world to insure free elections in those far-off lands, and yet right here in Pennsylvania politicians like Mr. Stabile look to quash that right by means of economic intimidation.

Mr. Stabile, you cloak yourself in the American flag and speak of protecting the electorate from fraud and impropriety while you choose to trample the very cornerstone of our democracy, that being free and equal elections. You, sir, in my opinion are not fit to be any judge no less a Superior Court Judge. I urge all groups and individuals who believe in the constitution and good government to send a clear message that despite one’s party affiliation, this behavior cannot and should not be tolerated any longer, and should certainly not be rewarded by a judgeship on Pennsylvania’s Superior Court.