Pennsylvania Legislature to Restrict Write-ins

From Ballot Access News...

On January 30, fourteen Pennsylvania Representatives introduced HB 48, which says that write-in votes are void if they are cast for a candidate who was removed from the ballot because his or her petition was insufficient. The sponsors include 8 Democrats and 6 Republicans. The Democrats include Babette Josephs, chair of the committee that will hear the bill (the Committee on State Government).

The bill seems to contradict a 1905 decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Oughton v Black, 61 A 346. On page 348, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that the state constitutional provision that elections be “equal” would be violated if voters were not permitted to write-in anyone they please. The Court said, if write-ins were restricted, “the election (as to the voter who cast a write-in vote) would not be equal, for he would not be able to express his own individual will in his own way.”

Richard Winger of Ballot Access News provides some further explanation and commentary…

So it wasn’t enough that the Pennsylvania Democrats got Nader and Romanelli thrown off the ballot; now they want it so that voters who cast write-ins for such people lose their vote.

The bill has 8 Democratic and 6 Republican sponsors in the House. The chair of the House Government Committee, Babette Josephs, is a leader of the
Pennsyvlania ACLU, and she is co-sponsoring it. The irony here is that it was the ACLU that lost the Hawaii case in the US Supreme Court in 1992, on
whether states could ban write-in votes. The ACLU has been the champion of the rights of voters to vote for anyone they please, yet this ACLU leader is trying to stop voters from voting for anyone they wish.

9 Responses to “Pennsylvania Legislature to Restrict Write-ins”

  1. Anthony Distler Says:

    As a person from Pennsylvania, I must say that this is upsetting, but not suprising. Pennsylvania and the legitlator has been one of the biggest opressors of voter choice in the country, and by restricting write-ins, it further cuts down the process. Pennsylvania is a very hostile place for voters and third parties. It’s sad.

  2. Richard Winger Says:

    Thanks for running this story, Austin!

  3. NewFederalist Says:

    Just how much worse can it get in PA? Perhaps the Democrats and Republicans will concoct some even more draconian restrictions on “unacceptable” political behavior before this session of the legislature is finished. Alternative parties and independents beware!

  4. Mike Grimes Says:

    So in other words write in votes casted to anyone who wants the job don’t count. What problem is being solved here? Any time a write in candidate might become a factor, the election is either to insignificant for anyone to care, or they will bend the rules to eliminate the need for a write in campaign.

    Let the petition losers get their 37 write in votes.

  5. Trent Hill Says:

    Mike. Who “can” win and who cant isnt the issue.

    The fact is, if I don’t like Jimmy Democrat or Bobby Republican, I should be able to vote for anyone. Regardless of if 15,000 people agree with me. If I want to write in “Huey P. Long” or “Ronald Reagan” or even “Ralph Nader”, then I ought to be able to. You see, I believe every citizen should vote, regardless of wether he likes the choices. That is simply a matter of civil responsibility.
    And we can obviously all agree that every vote counts right?

    Ohk then. The “petition losers” 37 counts ought to be reported.

  6. General Lee Says:

    These Pennsylvania legislators should be tarred and feathered.

  7. Rich Says:

    My primary reaction to all this is sadness about the ACLU. Surely the ACLU has some means of removing that guy from his official position with the ACLU.

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