Rep. Allyson Schwartz even suggests such legislation is a good idea. “Pennsylvania law should look at other states that have less stringent requirements and see if there are other ballot options that should be pursued,” writes Neil Deegan, Schwartz’s political director, in an email.
Hall says that in addition to Folmer’s SB 21, there should be a federal law making sure there can be no more Pennsylvanias. “A federal ballot access statute,” he says, “that would be one of the most obvious things that needs to happen to give our voters more choices. The U.S. Supreme Court could weigh in on this subject.”
A federal statute would allow more candidates for president, he says. Currently, getting on the ballot requires the candidate have a huge staff who understand the differing ballot requirements in each state.
Bottom line: The Supreme Court needs to tell people, regarding the Pennsylvania statute, that there is no legal or rational basis for a third party candidate to prove s/he has the support of tens of thousands of legitimate state residents just to run for office.
“As it stands, if we got a million signatures, they still wouldn’t let us on the ballot right now,” says Small.
As for Kleinman, he’s got his challenge ahead of him: convincing a majority Democrats of the 13th District to write his name in on April 24.
“In some ways, running as a write-in candidate simplifies things,” he says. “It’s the same campaign. I just have more to discuss now because people are interested in what happened in court with the legal wrangling.”
Glass half-full, the challenge might’ve helped him.
“I know people already who were undecided before this happened,” he says, “and now they say I have their full support.”
Philadelphia activist Cheri Honkala has been fighting for poor people’s economic rights for the last 25 years, most notably for her efforts to keep families in their homes. But it wasn’t until recently— 2011, actually—that she got involved in party politics.