Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Equal Access Ballot Coalition Formed With First Affiliates In New York & Pennsylvania

The Equal Access Ballot Coalition, a new organization with affiliates in New York and Pennsylvania, exists for the following purposes:

1. To educate the public regarding the importance of allowing independent candidates and nominees of political parties to obtain placement on the general election ballot with few, if any, barriers, which should be the same for all candidates seeking elective office.

2. To seek an end to all regulation and involvement of government in the internal affairs and nomination processes of all political parties.

3. To end taxpayer funding for party primaries and nominating conventions of political parties.

4. To allow all candidates to list a party affiliation to appear by their name on the general election ballot.

5. To have an Independent Election Commission responsible for the coordination and running of all elections, said members to be trained and selected on merit and not because of their affiliation with a particular political party.

Two chapters of the Equal Access Ballot Coalition have been chartered in New York and Pennsylvania. Activists work to build the number of organizations in the coalition and to help the group make progress towards the achievement of its main goals.

Evan Laufer, County Chair of the Personal Freedom Party of Allegheny County, who joined the Equal Access Ballot Coalition of Pennsylvania as an Activist on September 4, 2013, said:

Pennsylvania has a great need for an activist coalition of organizations fighting for the right of all candidates to obtain equal ballot access and to end the micromanagement by government bureaucrats of the internal affairs of political parties. Pennsylvania law makes it very difficult for minor party candidates to obtain placement on the general election ballot resulting in reduced political competition, less political dialog and fewer choices for the voters. The current system is unfair and does a disservice to the ideal of democracy.

The only similar group in Pennsylvania is the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition, that has an out-of-date website announcing an "upcoming fundraiser" at The Shady Maple Farm Market & Smorgasbord, which took place on October 21, 2011. Dr. Stevens, the Founder of the Equal Access Ballot Coalition, attended that fundraiser and was shocked by the group's lack of a strategic game plan and by the inactivity and general lack of enthusiasm of members of the group. Bob Small, who is the self-appointed Facilitator of the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition, actually rejected the request of the Objectivist Party of Pennsylvania and the Personal Freedom Party of Pennsylvania to join saying that, in his opinion, those Minor Parties weren't active enough to meet his subjective standards for membership in the coalition and that they didn't need the extra help. In addition, during the GOP challenge to the petitions of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania (LPPA) in 2012, the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition did not send out a single News Release exposing the inequities in the system and, hence, lost an excellent opportunity to obtain more public support for fairer ballot access laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.   

Pennsylvania needs a strong voice advocating for Equal Access to the ballot for Independent and Minor Party candidates. The Equal Access Ballot Coalition of Pennsylvania is that voice!

Tom Miller, Vice-Chair of Downstate Libertarians (a chartered chapter of Empire State Libertarians), who joined the Equal Access Ballot Coalition of New York as an Activist on September 6, 2013, said:

Political parties are private entities and their internal affairs should not be dictated by government bureaucrats enforcing unconstitutional laws. Every political party should have the absolute right to decide who may join it and the manner in which candidates will be nominated. Citizens should be required to register to vote but membership in a political party should be established in accordance with the bylaws of that party and not by the state. All candidates for public office, whether formally nominated by a political party or not, should be placed on the general election ballot, with few, if any, barriers. If a candidate has been formally and properly nominated by a political party in accordance with its rules, that candidate should be permitted to have the name of that party appear on the ballot next to the candidate's name. Voters should be permitted to cast ballots online or in person at any polling place. Once the identity of the voter in confirmed, the races that voter is eligible to cast a ballot in should be immediately accessed through secure software and a physical receipt of that voter having cast a ballot should be maintained.  

The Equal Access Ballot Coalition of New York calls for the establishment of an Independent Election Commission to supervise elections, to count the ballots and to certify the results. Allowing members of the two main political parties to be directly involved in the election process violates international standards for free and fair elections. Members of the Independent Election Commission must be selected based on competency and merit and not because of their affiliation with a political party. 

There is a group entitled Coalition For Free & Open Elections (COFOE) that has existed since 1985 and held its last Board Meeting on July 14, 2013 in New York City. It supports Universal Registration and a Federal Law creating uniform standards for state and local elections dictated by the federal government. These are goals not shared by the Equal Access Ballot Coalition. In addition, the Coalition For Free & Open Elections charges individuals $30.00 annually to join and charges organizations $50.00 annually if the other groups in the coalition approve the organization's application for membership at the one Board Meeting they hold each year. Anyone can join the Equal Access Ballot Coalition and become an Activist for free and organizations who wish to become coalition members are welcomed.

Major changes need to be made in the election law of this state and the Equal Access Ballot Coalition of New York will be in the forefront of educating the public regarding these issues.

The Equal Access Ballot Coalition was established by Thomas Robert Stevens on August 27, 2013.

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