Libertarian Gary Johnson Wins First Ballot Fight; GOP to Appeal

Gary Johnson

A Pa. Court ruled that Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson has enough petition signatures to appear on the ballot in Pennsylvania, but Republicans are expected to appeal the decision by the end of the day Friday.

Commonwealth Court judges sided with Johnson by a margin of 2-1 on Thursday, according to the Associated Press. They ruled that about 9,000 of the candidate’s petition signatures are valid despite the fact that voters’ home addresses from the petitions did not match the addresses listed in the voting file.

Two people with knowledge of the petition challenge – which has been coordinated with the Pa. Republican Party – said an appeal was in the process of being filed Friday afternoon. Both said the move is typical in such disputes; state law gives litigants a presumptive right to appeal any Commonwealth Court decision.

Update: PAGOP Spokeswoman Valarie Caras said the party supports the appeal.

“The Republican Party of Pennsylvania supports the objectors appealing the ruling issued by the Commonwealth Court because the bottom line is that not only were the Libertarian Party’s nominating petitions riddled with errors, duplicate signatures and in some cases, blatant fraud, the Commonwealth Court’s recent ruling will have significant consequences on the integrity of our Commonwealth’s ballot access process,” she said.

Johnson served as Governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, and briefly sought the Republican nomination for President this year. A fiscal conservative, he supports the decriminalization of marijuana. He is scheduled to attend a rally at West Chester University in suburban Philadelphia on Monday, kicking off a national tour of college campuses.

Pennsylvania’s ballot access rules for 3rd party and independent candidates are among the strictest in the nation. Johnson needed 20,601 signatures for his name to appear on the ballot. His campaign turned in 49,000, but many thousands of them have been ruled invalid for other reasons so far during this challenge. Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney needed only 2,000 each.

Another Libertarian candidate, Rayburn Smith, is also being challenged. He’s running for U.S. Senate against Sen. Bob Casey and Republican Tom Smith.

Johnson is on the ballot in 47 states; challenges are pending in Pa. as well as Michigan and Oklahoma.

Johnson’s candidacy has worried some Republicans who fear that the fiscal conservative could siphon votes away from Romney. It could potentially cost Romney the Presidency in the case of a narrow election – particularly given the warm reception Johnson has received from disaffected supporters of former candidate Ron Paul.

A similar scenario played out in Florida in 2000, when Green Party candidate Ralph Nader received about 20,000 votes. Democrat Al Gore went on to lose to George W. Bush by about 500 votes.

Speaking of the Green Party, its nominee, Dr. Jill Stein of New York, will also appear on Pennsylvania’s ballot. Her campaign said that her petition signatures were not challenged.

Update 2: Stein’s campaign says she is on the ballot in 37 states plus D.C. and that litigation is pending in 7 more. “This level of ballot access by a Third Party has been unheard of in recent years, said Chris Robinson of the Pa. Green Party.

29 Responses

  1. @sddfsaf – More options, even if they have no chance of winning should be the right of all Americans. I should be able to run with a petition signed by only me, even if nobody else will vote for me. Imposing any kind of restrictions beyond that of what an “Established” party has is corruption – plain and simple.

  2. Let’s not throw away our votes on the two-party system, which has a monopoly on the election process.

  3. Most libertarians are not low information voters. To be libertarian means that one has at least studied enough to form ones own opinions and not just become a Demopublican because of one’s parents. That said, I find it hard to believe that any PA citizen planning to vote for Johnson would vote for Romney if Johnson is thrown off the ballot. It would seem logical that this effort by Repubs would have the opposite effect. What the authoritarian PA GOP is trying to do is, I think, doomed to backfire on them and will only strenghten Obama.

  4. There is no evidence that “3rd” parties take votes away from the legacy parties and in fact there is quite a bit of evidence to support the theory that the legacy parties take votes from “3rd” parties. If you look at polling data (you know, facts and stuff) you see that “3rd” party candidates tend to under preform. That’s the old party taking votes. You also have to consider the fact that opposition parties have to meet unfair ballot access rules and the legacy parties are given tax money to run their operations and campaigns. Moreover, the best qualified candidate for office based just on job experience this year isn’t a Democrat or a Republican, it’s Libertarian Gary Johnson.

  5. I am ashamed by PAGOP and the way both of the major parties have created such high hurdles for 3rd Party Candidates. In this day and age, when we have so many choices when it comes to education, media, jobs, and deciding where to live, what is the harm of allowing more people to enter the political arena.

    Well, there is one, the curtain will be drawn back and people will see we really only have one party with two wings who dominate our lives. Where is the justice in this? I am also ashamed of my ordaining body–the UCC–and other churches for not speaking out about this issue but then again…the leftists are in bed with the Democrats and the rightists the Republicans. Where can one go for fair and honest treatment of the issues?

  6. The gravamen of the case is whether thousands of signatures should be honored, despite the fact that the addresses don’t match.

    I participated [for one day] in the effort to scrutinize the signatures, and my experience mirrors the overall %-ages cited in this piece.

    I am unable to find the opinion/rationale on the Internet [either @ the CC-site or @ any media-sites], so it’s difficult to plumb the depths of the 2-1 decision.

  7. I like this site more than some of the others I’ve visited. There are a lot of crazy people in this country. I suggested Gary Johnson for those folks who don’t like Obama or Romney and one woman said it would be my fault because of my 1 vote for Johnson that Obama would be re-elected. I live in Illinois. What are the odds that Obama won’t be re-elected in Illinois whether or not I vote for Johnson.

  8. How very ironic that the Republican Party could EVER accuse ANY other Party of fraud. That is rich coming from a bunch of crooks! I guess since they are the Masters of Fraud, they would know!

  9. It is still possible to get Ron Paul or Gary Johnson in the White House.
    Method: Throw the election of the President to the House and let the die roll on January 3, 2013.
    Why: It is the only practical way left now to get Ron Paul in the White House.
    How: By denying both Obama and Romney a clear majority of 270+ Electoral College Votes (ECV) on November 6.
    Process: Help RP win IA, ME, MN, AK and NH with a “severe” write-in campaign(“A must read”). Total of 27 ECVs. Help Johnson win NM, NV and CO (another 20 ECVs.)
    Details: Ignoring the fact that Virgil Goode is a dark horse in VA with the possibility of winning the state, if all “other” candidates win 40 ECVs and Romney and Obama are nearly matched, they each get an average of 249 (Half of 538-40) ECVs in December and the House gets the burden of selecting the new president from the top three ECV candidates. Paul or Johnson will be number three along with Obama and Romney. Also 24 states impose no penalty on the Electors voting their conscience, and not their mandate so it is possible that someone from other states like TX or MN will place a vote for RP. In many other states, the penalty is not a lot more than a slap on the wrist.
    The House votes by state and 26 states will need to be won to select the President. It is unlikely that Obama and Romney will cede any territory to each other publicly so there is a chance that Ron Paul can eke out a victory by the March 3rd deadline before the VP selected by the Senate becomes the President (Biden?) if the House has not decided. You may end up with a Paul/Biden team. Remember, it is the newly elected House and Senate that will decide these elections.
    3. Elect Liberty minded people to Congress. That is the long term solution.
    Sounds nice? Now let us make it happen.
    Plan B
    1. Hope that Johnson and Paul get together soon. The deadline for that is practically Sept. 14 because of the need to print overseas and military ballots. This will affect Plan A as we may end up with a Johnson/Biden term but what the heck, I would take that over anything else that is offered.
    2. Make a lot of noise about getting Johnson in the debates. Get on the campaign to armtwist various pollers to include Johnson in the polls. He needs to show 15% in 5 polls to make the debates. How inconvenient when the polls don’t even include him. Break the logjam. There is only a couple of weeks left for this to happen.
    Plan C
    Obama with a four year deadlocked congress is better than eight years of Romney. Just keep that in your mind if plan A is not feasible. For CA voters, vote for Romney is a total waste. Dems control CA and BO is surely in regardless of your futile gestures. May as well vote for Paul or Johnson rather than encourage them bastards fo not giving you a real choice by voting for Romney. And fly your flag half mast until Liberty to smoke whatever, marry whatever, do whatever without Fed control is fully restored.
    Where is the good Doctor when the country really needs him.

    For the crime of telling the truth, Ron Paul MUST be sentenced to serve four years in the White House.

  10. Kylie. WOW, I am glad you are not in charge of MY life! I would only have two choices of cars to buy, two grocery stores to shop, two soda-pop to drink, etc. Jezz, so you are OK with a 3rd party having to have 10 times the signatures. Are you kidding me. And you are statisfied with the two parties that have bankrupted this country. In real life, if somebody screws up that bad they get FIRED. Yet, you want to keep the status quo. You must be a hack of one of the two old tire parties from the 19th century. Get out of the way because GEN Y is coming.

  11. @Kylie Stout, Say I move from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Of course, you need to change your voter registration address because you are voting for a whole different slate of down ballot races (U.S. House, PA House and Senate, School Board, Mayor, City Council, etc).

    Your preferred candidate didn’t win the primary that he initially entered, so he decided to switch parties. He’s the kid that took his ball and went home. Even Herman Cain gained traction for awhile in the GOP primary. Johnson’s woes are his own doing.

    The higher threshold for third parties is designed to keep irrelevant parties off the ballot. I can get 2,000 people to sign a nominating petition by just asking random passersby on the street. Since such a signature does not mean a vote for the candidate, it’s a meaningless gesture to most. Could you imagine how many names would be on the ballot (each of which have absolutely zero chance of winning) if there wasn’t a higher standard?

  12. PA GOP tactics like these make me ashamed to have been born, raised, and educated in PA. Oh course back then we had the corrupt McClure Del Co machine. One could make the case that the civil rights of non-duopoly voters are being suppressed here with the barriers placed in our way.

  13. I expected a move like this by the GOP after their antics at the RNC. Every Ron Paul supporter should vote for anyone but the Obamney twins.

    It is criminal how the two sides of the same coin known as Republicans and Democrats have destroyed our electoral process, but it is very sad people still cling to these parties and employ the lesser of two evils voting strategy.

  14. It’s funny how their idea of “fraud” is that the voters now addresses do not match those of the ones they submitted when they became registered voters. Most of us start voting when we’re 18. I don’t know anyone who A.) lives in the same place when they are 18 that they do their entire lives. Everyone moves. and B.) knew that you had to submit a change of address to anyone if you did move. If they’re going to count people who have moved and have different addresses against Gary Johnson. I want the same stipulations to be applied to the voters and votes for romney and Obama too.

  15. “Johnson’s candidacy has worried some Republicans who fear that the fiscal conservative could siphon votes away from Romney.” –its not Johnson ‘s candidacy that is siphoning votes away from Romney, it’s his liberal fiscal policy that is causing him to lose his own votes.

  16. As an out of stater, I have to ask:

    Why on earth does PA require Independent candidates to have almost 20 times the signatures to get on the ballot than the duopoly candidates? If it smells fishy…

    “Pennsylvania’s ballot access rules for 3rd party and independent candidates are among the strictest in the nation. Johnson needed 20,601 signatures for his name to appear on the ballot. His campaign turned in 49,000… Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney needed only 2,000 each.”

  17. Three votes I’ll be making in November. The rest of the ballot might as well be left blank for me.

    Gary Johnson – Pres
    Gene Stilp – Congress
    Kathleen Kane – Attny Gen

  18. If are you tired of obama and mitt romney. Then vote for gary johnson who will bring ecomney and social freedom gun and gay rights

  19. This is par for the course in PA. Same thing happened in 2008 to the Libertarian candidate, former Congressman Bob Barr. The rest of the nation is just shaking their heads at PA. How can a state that was part of the formation of our country be one of the ones so farthest against upholding the principles set back then?

  20. This and the b.s. in Tampa against Ron Paul have caused me to drop my Republican registration and re-register Libertarian. Everyone, get out of the corrupt Penna. GOP and build a strong Libertarian Party. I sincerely hope Gary Johnson costs Romney this election!

  21. Love Gary Johnson, loved Ron Paul, hate the two party system, take the White House Johnson!

  22. Attn PA: The rest of the country is watching how you handle this case and your stance on your state’s electorate having a choice and a voice in their future.

  23. If you are more socially liberal than the President, and more fiscally conservative than Mitt Romney, your best candidate is Gary Johnson. That’s a lot of Pennsylvanians.

  • Who Will Be Speaker of the PA House on February 28?

    • Joanna McClinton (68%)
    • Mark Rozzi (27%)
    • A Republican TBD (5%)

    Total Voters: 315

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