PA Green Party Will Not be Silenced by Democrats

Green Party volunteers canvassing for petition signatures in July, taking precautions against COVID-19 with masks and gloves.

Fighting to Keep Green Solutions for Health, Economic, and Environmental Crises on 2020 Ballot

The following news release was published by the Green Party of Pennsylvania. We’re republishing because it also represents the view of the Green Party of Allegheny County. If you would like to support Green candidates, please consider a donation to our legal fund to continue fighting for ballot access, donate at: https://www.gpofpa.org/ballot_access_legal_fees. Thank you for your support whether financial or otherwise!

Pennsylvania finds democracy and ballot choice under attack again as the Democratic Party has filed in court to prevent Green Party candidates from appearing on the November ballot. The Green Party of Pennsylvania (GPPA, www.gpofpa.org) received information that its four statewide candidates were legally challenged by the Democratic Party of PA on Monday, August 10.

GPPA Co-chair Sheri Miller (Adams County) said, “This challenge comes barely a month after lawyers for the Democratic Party argued in federal court that the Green Party was not entitled to ballot access relief during COVID-19. Instead, they demanded that Greens carry out typical petitioning even during a global pandemic, putting Green volunteers at risk of catching the deadly disease. This new attack challenging the Green Party’s successful petitioning, despite the barriers imposed, is yet another attempt to remove any non-corporate-backed competitors from the ballot and to limit voters’ choices to the duopoly.”

The Green Party of the U.S. (www.gp.org) presidential and vice-presidential nominees Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker had filed for ballot access in Pennsylvania on Monday, August 3, 2020, alongside candidates Timothy Runkle for state treasurer, Richard L. Weiss for attorney general, and Olivia Faison for auditor general. The candidates filed over 8,000 signatures — 166% of the 5,000 signature minimum required by state law — from voters across the state, which is a great triumph considering the challenges of petitioning during a pandemic and widespread stay-at-home and social distancing orders. Volunteers were provided masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer — paid for by the party, the Commonwealth gave no special guidance or protective equipment — to remain as safe as possible while petitioning.

Greens also created an unprecedented system of mail-in petitioning to gather hundreds of signatures in an effort to minimize the need for volunteers to physically petition in public. This system had to be quickly developed and implemented by party volunteers as the Commonwealth again could not provide any guidance on petitioning during a pandemic since the primary election petitioning period this year concluded in early February and was unaffected by COVID-19.

The Democrats’ legal challenge was filed on behalf of Paul Stefano, chair of the Lawrence County Democratic Party, and Tony C. Thomas, a registered Democrat that ran for city council in Wilkes-Barre last year. The challenge will be heard by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court where it will be decided whether or not Green candidates shall be placed on the ballot. Lawyers may be required to argue and present evidence of the validity of individual signatures on the petition, which can become a time-consuming and expensive legal fight.

GPPA thanks all of the volunteers and petitioners who put in hard, dangerous work this year at great personal risk during a global pandemic to ensure the Green Party met ballot access requirements set by state law, and condemns the anti-democratic challenge lawsuit by the Democratic Party to nullify that work.

Pandemic requirements such as social distancing had made petitioning burdensome and unsafe for both petitioners as well as the voters with whom they would need to interact. In light of such difficulties, GPPA initially filed a lawsuit in March 2020 against the state of Pennsylvania, after the Wolf administration refused to respond to requests for relief, asking the courts to reduce candidates’ signature requirements to zero. With pushback from Governor Wolf’s administration and the Democratic Party, GPPA did not win the lawsuit and had to hustle to collect signatures — at least 2,500 for state-level candidates and 5,000 for our Presidential candidate — on short notice.
“The Wolf administration and the Democratic Party previously played politics with our lives and argued in federal court that we needed to do the petitioning work to get on the ballot even if there’s a pandemic. Now that Greens rose to that challenge and succeeded, they’re still going to challenge it in court to waste time and money?” said Garret Wassermann, GPPA Green Wave team lead and candidate for state representative, 45th district. “It’s crystal-clear that the Democratic Party does not believe in democracy.”

“Recent events are demonstrating what the Greens have been warning of for years. The pandemic, the racial lynchings by the hands of the state, the climate emergency — these compounding issues cannot be addressed without future focused and just actions,” said PA Treasurer Candidate Timothy Runkle “The Greens are uniquely positioned to advance progressive policies that are based on the pillars of non-violence, social justice, ecological wisdom, and grassroots democracy. Over 40% of voters, a majority block, believe that challenging parties are needed to repair our governing institutions. The Democratic Party is fighting that majority.”

“It’s time to change the law for getting on the ballot. No more risking lives petitioning in a pandemic.” said PA Attorney General Candidate Richard L. Weiss, who is running on a platform calling for development of police standards of conduct which are more appropriate to a domestic civilian population, special prosecutors to handle cases of police misconduct, and ending cash bail for people who pose no threat to the community. Weiss added, “This could be a watershed year in which everything changes.”

More information about the 2020 Green Party candidates in Pennsylvania can be found at: https://www.greenslate2020.org/. The Green Party of PA (GPPA, https://www.gpofpa.org/) is an independent political party that stands in opposition to the two corporate parties. GPPA candidates promote public policy based on the Green Party’s Four Pillars: grassroots democracy, nonviolence, ecological wisdom, and social justice/equal opportunity. For further information about GPPA, please visit www.gpofpa.org or email contact@gpofpa.org. Please follow GPPA on social media: Facebook and Twitter.

Note to Readers: The Green Party of Allegheny County needs your support to continue our pursuit of people and planet over profits. Please consider making a donation. We also encourage you to get involved in Green politics.

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