Giving voters a choice
Although I agree with Ryan Martin’s sentiments that we should be “Giving Voters a Choice” in our elections, I’d like to point out that our current electoral process is even worse than he has portrayed. For example, 15 percent of registered voters in Lancaster County can’t participate in the taxpayer funded primary in May, according to the PA Department of State. That’s like paying for somebody else’s electric bill. Further, a recent Gallup Poll has stated 42 percent of voters identify with being an independent. So, in Pennsylvania, that means another 27 percent of the people are coerced into remaining registered as a Republican or Democrat so they can vote in the primary. That doesn’t sound like a “choice” to me.
How do we improve upon this problem that 42 percent of the voters have persistently? One way is through a piece of legislation called The Voters’ Choice Act, SB 195. Neighboring Senator Mike Folmer (LebanonCounty) has sponsored this bill that gives independents a fair and equal footing to get on the ballot. It makes signature requirements for independents equal to major party candidates. In the past they have been up to 33 times the major party requirements (67,000 vs. only 2,000 for statewide offices)! SB 195 also makes party recognition based on registration numbers, not how well you do in a winner-take-all voting system, which creates spoilers and voting for “lesser evils.”
These factors, combined with a closed primary and courts biased toward the two major parties when petition challenges are made, make independents, despite our identity, suffer.
Your legislators are hoping you’ll remain apathetic about this and that you’ll just stay home and remain silent about the “crooks.” I personally don’t think they’re crooks … I think they are just doing what the people with the most time, influence and money ask them to do. With just a few persistent phone calls, emails or letters (persistent means call back if they try to ignore a specific request, which they’ll try to do), you might not be the one with the most money, but you can give them a piece of your time and get a little influence.