Why It Doesn’t Matter Whether Kim Velez Had Enough Good Signatures

I basically agree with everything Rich says here, except that I like the petitions process* as a first proving ground for campaign organizations. More choice isn’t always better!

Anyway, if Chris Casey is right and would-be Allentown City Council candidate (and Keystone Politics draft pick for Allentown Mayor) Kim Velez only has around 80 “good” signatures, then this episode looks a bit different. But the question remains why they didn’t just challenge her petitions in time:

With that said, Chris Casey did an excellent job from what I can tell, in breaking down the actual case of Miss Velez. He lays out his methods, and comes up with 80 signatures. I see no reason to doubt him. My issue though, even with this argument, is why not just file the challenge? I’ve said this in each post, and I’ll say it again, knowing Tim Brennan, he didn’t try to intimidate the young lady. He was probably trying to be helpful and explain it. According to Chris’s analysis, he had a good case, too. With that said, to my knowledge they did not challenge her petitions during the allotted period, and she withdrew after that period. IF that is true, she had no reason to exit the race. She was called on Sunday evening and got the e-mail with the form on Monday, with the deadline on Tuesday. Once they didn’t challenge on time, it doesn’t matter if she signed all the signatures herself. The main point is, she did not have enough signatures, but the challenging of her wasn’t done “by the book” either, though I doubt there was any intent to do anything wrong there. If she didn’t have the signatures, challenge her in court. If she can prove that she withdrew under duress, that will mean she’s on the ballot, as the challenge period has passed. This is because they didn’t follow procedure.

Like Rich, I don’t see much use in getting slowed down by the technicalities if what you’re ultimately hoping to see is Ed Pawlowski facing down some competition in November. The key ingredients of this story – a Pawlowski affiliate urging Kim Velez to self-deport from the ballot after the deadline for an orthodox petition challenge – have not been spoiled by the new information about Kim’s petitions, and they still combine into a delicious political opportunity.

It just might make more sense at this point to run as an Independent in November rather than try to get back on the Democratic ballot, although I’m open to persuasion on this point from the election lawyers in the audience. Some have raised the point that Ms. Velez might not be allowed to run as an Independent because of the state’s Sore Loser law, which bars candidates who lose primaries from running again as Independents in the general election. Again, happy to defer to the lawyers on this, but the fact that Ms. Velez can’t be rejected by the primary voters since she won’t be on the primary ballot would seem to make this substantially dissimilar to the Sore Loser situation.

*One change I would like to see is equal signature requirements for all candidates, regardless of party. Remember when Jake Towne had to get 3629 signatures to get on the 15th District general election ballot, and John Callahan and Charlie Dent only had to get 1000 signatures each to get on their respective parties’ primary ballots? That’s your party cartel system in action.

If I were designing the ballot access rules from scratch, I’d set one signature requirement for any party to get on the ballot. You’d have to have a party label to get on the ballot – no unlabeled candidates – but I’d also make it very easy to register new political parties. We’d allow fusion voting, so that minor parties could endorse a major party candidate on their ballot line and contribute to that candidate’s vote total instead of playing spoiler. And we’d scrap first-past-the-post voting in favor of ranked voting so people could specify their first, second, and third favorite candidates, without fear that picking their first choice would perversely strengthen their last choice.

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