The next president of our country may be decided by a single state – Pennsylvania. No candidate has won an election without winning the Keystone state in over 80 years. As such, both parties have used every trick in the books in order to sway Commonwealth voters.
Pennsylvania Democrats have successfully sued to remove the Green Party candidate from the ballot over a technicality. The 5,000-signature affidavit that is necessary to put a candidate on the ballot was faxed in rather than handed over in person, an issue which the lower courts — run by Republican judges — said could be fixed retroactively. During the Covid-19 pandemic, when close contact is eschewed, and virtual communication favored, it seems like faxing paperwork rather than an in-person exchange of papers that have been touched by thousands of people should not only be accepted, but praised.
Democrats took the case to the state’s Supreme Court, which as of 2019 has been presided over by five elected Democrats and two elected Republicans. While the trial was going on, the court delayed the printing and sending out of mail-in ballots, prompting the publication of various articles with headlines like this one from Philly Mag: “No, Mail-In Ballots Won’t Be Available On Monday. Blame the Green Party.” As the Green Party faced a media firestorm, the PA Supreme Court voted 5-2 in favor of the claimants.
Democrats have a long history of trying to remove the Green Party from ballots, but this year the party is acting more aggressively in light of the 2016 election. Clinton famously lost the state by about 44,000 votes, and the Green Party’s Jill Stein infamously secured 49,000 votes in the Commonwealth. One fact that is often overlooked is that Stein didn’t even come in third-place in the state – Gary Johnson did. Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s candidate, won 149,000 votes — more than triple the difference of Clinton and Trump. Most of his supporters were right-leaning voters, who may have otherwise voted Republican, and yet Clinton still lost.
Democrats have a long history of trying to remove the Green Party from ballots, but this year the party is acting more aggressively in light of the 2016 election. Clinton famously lost the state by about 44,000 votes, and the Green Party’s Jill Stein infamously secured 49,000 votes in the Commonwealth.
The party has succeeded in altering the ballots at the last moment in several states this year. Not just in the presidential election, but in congressional races too — even though Green Party legislators almost always vote with Democrats. In Montana, five Green Party candidates were removed when Democrats found the people who signed the candidates’ affidavits, called them, and convinced them into recanting their signatures; MSNBC reported on the story by claiming that it was a “Republican scam.”
In an article by FiveThirtyEight – a reputable site dedicated to election statistics and figures — journalist Nathaniel Rakich says: “Pennsylvania is so important that our model gives Trump an 84 percent chance of winning the presidency if he carries the state — and it gives Biden a 96 percent chance of winning if Pennsylvania goes blue.” So, it isn’t surprising that technical issues and dirty politics come into play in the state. But, that’s not the big picture.
The real issue is that the same side that tells us that our democracy is at stake, that our election’s integrity is fragile, and that the people in power are oppressive appear to be scapegoating a smaller party who simply wants its candidates on the ballot.
All citizens should pay attention to these double-standards, and the gap between what the media tells us and what is reality, depending on which political “side” stands to benefit.
When the alt-right threatens civic institutions, it’s rightfully labeled totalitarianism. When the mainstream left does it, like by legally conceding to rigging primaries in 2016, suppressing voters, or removing candidates from the race — well, that’s just politics.
Daniel Goncalves is a writer from New Jersey focusing on our nation’s damaged system of government. When he isn’t ranting about politics, or working, he is writing fiction, playing soccer, or woodworking. @dc_gonk