Green Party’s Inclusion on PA Ballot Remains Uncertain
Philadelphia activist Cheri Honkala accepted the vice presidential nomination to the national Green Party ticket in Baltimore over the weekend. She introduced herself to the national party and gave a CliffsNotes version of her life—from the time she was homeless in Minnesota to her current work on behalf of the poor—before introducing Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.
“I bring you greetings from poor and working people in the United States of America,” Honkala told the crowd, before mentioning how she and her son Mark made the decision 25 years ago to “Occupy a heated abandoned house” instead of freezing to death on the streets.
Honkala then spoke of the potentially massive cuts to welfare programs going on in Washington, saying the Green Party must “refuse … the politics of fear and scarcity.” She continued, saying both the Democrats and Republicans are controlled by Wall Street and that the Untied States as a whole is “controlled by the corporations, the 1 percent and the greedy.”
But the Green Party is different, she said: “We are the new and unsettling force that Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of.”
But before one can become that unsettling force, one must get on the ballot. And whether that happens is still unknown.
Petitions to get on the ballot in Pennsylvania are due in about two weeks, on August 1st. And as it currently stands, the Green Party is not on it. Or close. The national Green Party has recently put out an “urgent call” on its official website, asking for donations and volunteers to help the Greens get on the ballot.
The Pennsylvania Green Party has gathered about 6,000 signatures to gain access to the statewide ballot. They need 20,601. And as many in the party have noted (based on access issues in the past), ballot challenges actually require at least double that.
The 20,601 number for third party candidates is based on 2 percent of the highest vote getter in the previous election. Republicans and Democrats are required 2,000 each.
This morning, one Green Party official, York County Green Party Chair Steve Baker, called Pennsylvania’s situation “a state of emergency in the world of Pennsylvania electoral justice” on the Green Party of Pennsylvania’s Facebook page.
He related the plight of the Green Party to “the way men kept women from voting and running for office, and the way racists kept African Americans from participating in our democracy.”
PhillyNow contacted Baker, who noted there’s a lot of work to be done in the next two weeks.
“We’ve got a ways to go,” he noted of the signature-gathering efforts. “I’m hoping that [Honkala] will bring out more volunteers for petitions because obviously it would be kind of an embarrassment … if the national vice presidential candidate [from Pennsylvania] can’t get on the ballot in Pennsylvania.”
Green Party of Pennsylvania Team Coordinator Hillary Kane says there’s a plan.
“Because the Stein Campaign qualifies for federal matching funds, and now actually has some money, they’re going to be putting paid petitioners…on the ground,” she says. “They believe they can collect 20,000 signatures in two weeks, and they’re asking the volunteer crowd to step up and collect an additional ten [thousand].”
The Stein Campaign and Green Party of Pennsylvania is having a conference call on Tuesday night to figure out how, exactly, to get all those signatures.
“It’s all last minute, but we think it’s possible,” says Kane. “It’s a little crazy, but it can be done.”
She calls the party’s goal of 35,000 signatures “a good cushion.”
And while Pennsylvania remains up in the air for now, numbers on the Green Party’s official website note similar situations in several other states. In Iowa, for example, although only 1,500 signatures are needed, the party has collected 120. In Virginia, 10,000 are required though 1,800 have been gathered.
“The Constitution says elections are supposed to be free and equal,” notes Baker. “But they’re not.”