On March 30th, the Green Party of Pennsylvania's Steering Committee sent an urgent letter requesting Governor Tom Wolf and state legislative leaders to grant a waiver for Green Party candidates this year and eliminate the usual petitioning and voter signature requirements. Every year, Greens are required by state law to collect signatures from a minimum number of registered voters in order to place Green candidates on the November ballot. Greens have a goal of 8000 signatures across the state this year to ensure every Green candidate will be on the ballot, but it is near impossible to collect those physical signatures from voters during COVID-19 and official "stay-at-home" orders that may persist into the summer.
Greens therefore demand that democracy and ballot choice be preserved, and ballot access relief granted for political body and independent candidates, including Green Party candidates. We in particular demand that the usual signature requirement be waived for all candidates this year. Unfortunately, we did not receive any reply from state officials and so sent a follow up letter on April 30th. We are exploring legal options in case this letter also does not receive a prompt reply.
The full text of the second letter is below. Scroll down to the bottom to sign on in support of our demands, and let state officials know you want a Green choice on your November ballot!
By submitting your signature in the form below, you are declaring support for our demand for ballot access relief. We'll use your information to notify officials of how many supporters & online signatures we have (addresses are needed to verify registered voters), and we'll keep you up to date on ballot access progress via email and how you can help as we learn more.
Thank you for your support!
RE: Follow-up To Request for Relief of Ballot Access Requirements Due to COVID-19
Dear Governor Tom Wolf, Lt. Governor John Fetterman, Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar, Deputy Secretary for Elections and Commissions Jonathan M. Marks, Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Turzai, and State Government Committee chairs Rep. Garth Everett, Rep. Kevin Boyle, Sen. John Disanto, Sen. Anthony Williams:
The Green Party of Pennsylvania (GPPA) respectfully requests your response to our letter dated March 30, 2020, in which we requested ballot access relief for all 2020 Green Party candidates along with declaring our support for similar relief to other political bodies and independent candidates. This letter was delivered electronically, via mail, and was followed up by several phone calls to the Governor’s office requesting a status update, but we have so far not received any official response from any office.
GPPA reaffirms its request for the Governor and General Assembly to work with the Department of State to take immediate emergency action to honor the right of our political party and its state-wide candidates for President, Auditor General, Attorney General, and State Treasurer as well candidates for the General Assembly, to appear on the General Election ballot.
We specifically ask that the petition signature requirement for the statewide ballot be waived or suspended for the current election cycle for all of the Green Party of Pennsylvania’s candidates.
We also encourage any emergency action to also apply to independent candidates and candidates from other political bodies, in order to best protect democracy and the right of all to run for office.
We remind you that statewide Green Party candidates have appeared on the ballot in 2016 and 2018, and we are highly confident we would have gained ballot access again in 2020 were it not for the urgent, severe threat posed by COVID-19. COVID-19 has resulted in the cancellation of many public events at which we normally petition, and has made door-to-door canvassing not only unadvisable due to health concerns but also a direct violation of the Governor’s orders to maintain distancing and avoid gatherings of people. Events are already canceling well into the summer, and the Governor’s “phased” re-opening proposal has no specific date for when petitioning may be safe again, in part because it is still unclear how long it will take to “flatten the curve” and address COVID-19.
By current law, the Green Party of Pennsylvania must obtain by August 3rd, 2020, a minimum of 5,000 petition signatures from registered voters to ensure the Presidential candidate is on the ballot. Given that nearly half of the allotted legal petitioning time, starting from February 19, 2020, has already elapsed, it is becoming very likely that Green Party volunteers will not be able to petition safely at all before the August 3rd, 2020, deadline. Green Party candidates deserve to receive confirmation that they will be on the ballot now, and allowed to resume normal campaigning for the general election.
Several other states, including Vermont and Illinois, have already granted the Green Party ballot access waivers reducing the requirements and ensuring Green Party candidates may appear on the ballot. We therefore ask that Pennsylvania follows in those footsteps and takes immediate, emergency action to protect democracy and the right of Green Party and other independent and political body candidates to appear on the November 2020 ballot. We, again, specifically ask for a waiver of the usual petition signature requirement for all candidates.
We are happy to discuss the issue further and may be contacted via email@example.com. While we hope to be able to discuss this important issue of democracy with you and receive quick emergency relief, continued unresponsiveness may require that we file in state and/or federal court to protect the democratic rights of our candidates, and the voters who deserve to be able to freely exercise their right to vote for the candidates of their choosing.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Sheri Miller & Alan Smith
GPPA Co-chair GPPA Co-chair
GPPA Green Wave Team Lead & Candidate for Representative in the General Assembly, District 45
GPPA Secretary & Ballot Access Coordinator