Election Officials Reject Independent Congressional Candidate, Because an Independent is Already Running in the District: The Two Party Fix

The difference between a one party system and a two party system is just one party.


count it as a vote for lizard people

What's the difference between one party rule and a two party system? One party.  Cuba apologists insist their political system is very democratic, with "the people" involved every step of the way. No matter that the Castros regularly hit 99 percent in parliamentary elections. They are the 99 percent after all. American candidates aren't so lucky, even though in the aggregate they might be. 2010's incumbency rate of 85 percent was the lowest in a decade, and the cause for much pearl-clutching among the political class. You'd think Richard Lugar was driven out of the House of Lords by the hoi polloi given some of the reaction. Why should he have to campaign after all? First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974, Lugar received at least two-thirds of the state vote in every re-election since 1988 before Richard Mourdock defeated him by a nearly two-to-one margin in this year's primary.

Thanks in part to gerrymandering and in part to the power of pork barrel spending, the House is full of members who regularly hit 70, 80 and even 90 percent of the vote. With Congress' collective approval rating consistently under 20 percent, it's hard to buy the argument that somehow the parts are so much greater than the whole.

But winning with 70 point margins doesn't mean you can open the floodgates to ballot access. Take one of Philadelphia's congressmen, Chaka Fattah, who has not won with less than 84 percent of the vote since first being elected in 1996 (even hitting a Castro-level 98 percent in 2000 when his only opponent was a Libertarian).The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a 69-year-old newspaper editor filed a 125 page petition to get on the ballot and challenge Fattah as an independent. His petition was rejected because another member of his party (the non-existent lower case i independent party) had already filed. From the Inquirer:

"I am the antithesis of a party," said the 69-year-old Germantown newspaper editor. "I am an independent political person, and I want to run that way.

A Commonwealth Court hearing is scheduled for Thursday on [Jim] Foster's request to have his name put on the ballot. He also is asking the court to throw out the petitions of Philadelphian Robert J. Ogborn, who filed as an "Independent" candidate last Tuesday, the day before Foster.

"I was set up," Foster said.

Foster said he suspected that Democratic Party officials and the Fattah campaign were behind a scheme to keep him off the ballot…

Until recently, Ogborn acknowledged, he was a registered Democrat, but he said he knew nothing of Foster's candidacy and had no idea he had bumped him off the ballot…

At issue is the use of independent. Foster said he had no affiliation—political or otherwise—with Ogborn, 63, of Roxborough. Foster said he filed as an independent—with an emphatically lowercase i.

Excluding Foster from the ballot was nothing personal, said Department of State spokesman Ron Ruman. "We're just following the law," he said.
The state prohibits nominees of the same party or parties with similar-sounding names to appear on general-election ballots, lest voters become confused.

Voters might be less confused if there were only one name on the ballot. Just saying!

H/T Dan Pearson

NEXT: Dispensaries Mark End for Arizona's Legal Pot Growers

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. 2010’s incumbency rate of 88 percent was the lowest in a decade

    Does the 88 percent include incumbents who chose not run in the race?

    1. It’s actually 85 percent and it’s of those incumbents seeking re-election:

      1. it’s of those incumbents seeking re-election:

        I think this underestimates the turn over rate.

        Incumbents often know they cannot win so they drop out without ever running.

  2. Seriously, Krayewski? Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. If the guy chose a different name for his party affiliation it would have been fine. And the state has a legitimate interest in making sure the ballot is comprehensible to nonintelligent voters.

    Comparing that to a one party state is about as silly as one can imagine, but it’s expected from this fellow at this point. Tell me about how the lack of a moment of silence at the Olympics is anti-Semitic again, Krayewski.

    1. He has no party affiliation, thus the term “independent”. Do you really think this is all about the fact that he didn’t put down the word “none” instead?

      1. Yes. Otherwise why are they mentioning the guy who previously filed as “independent” as justification?

        There are third, fourth, etc parties on the ballot all over the country. Claiming this is an attempt to keep them off the ballot, and likening it to a one-party election, is ridiculous. It’s just a weird situation.

        1. “Otherwise why are they mentioning the guy who previously filed as “independent” as justification?”

          Because a bureaucrat will say anything to justify his position once he takes one, no matter how stupid.

      2. From the article (unsurprisingly, right after Krayewski decided to cut his quote):

        He added that if Foster had chosen to run under a different party name – say, Foster for Congress – his petitions would have been accepted. Foster said no one ever told him that.

        And I’m calling BS on a politically intelligent newspaper editor not thinking of the possibility that he could change the party’s name on his petition unless someone at the BoE told him he could.

        1. It seems to be less a problem that no one told him he could, then that no one told Foster he had to register as something other than independent in order to get on the ballot.

          1. In New York, at least, in a situation where independent candidates pick the same label, one of them would be given the opp’ty to change labels or to be assigned a different one.

            1. You mean there’s an area of election law where New York isn’t anal?

              1. New York’s election laws are alright, as far as election laws go. They allow fusion tickets which is a boon for third parties. On the City Council, Dan Halloran represents more people than any Libertarian ever elected before.

    2. He has no party affiliation…

    3. This is the most absurd bootlicking absurdity I have ever seen you post here, and that’s saying a lot, given your general output.

      If Foster gunned this Ron Ruman motherfucker down in broad daylight, I’d move to Philadelphia to try to find my way on to his jury to nullify.

      Frankly, no party affiliation should appear on any ballot anywhere, ever. The state has no business putting electioneering communications in the voting booth, and that’s what the affiliation notations are. Does the other guy have a valid trademark for the name “independent”? Was there a primary or caucus to choose the candidate of the “independent” party? If not, there’s no basis in law for saying that any other citizen can’t claim to be the candidate of the “independent” party.

      Party apparati have no constitutional standing in federal elections. None. The parties are private organizations.

      1. I’ve long thought that there should be no official recognition of the political parties within government. That goes for all of the party apparatus within legislatures as well as for all of the electoral crap. It’s self-serving and benefits our system not at all.

        1. Well, that was the case for the Ukrainian free territory

    4. I am feckin’ Spartacus!

    5. And the state has a legitimate interest in making sure the ballot is comprehensible to nonintelligent voters.

      If we are catering to the lowest common denominator, its all over.

      The states interest is that they gain more power over their people.

      If it is only expected that people know the party, and not the person, why even have people running for office? Why not just each party is a corporation that we get to choose between?

  3. This is the rule so that democrats don’t find a guy named Don Paul and run him as a Libortarian to siphon votes from the real guy.

    1. Ron Paul isn’t running as a libertarian, so the Dems could do that if they wanted.

      1. They almost certainly couldn’t, since the Libertarian party would rightly object.

        1. If I legally changed my name to Ted Kennedy, and formed a party and called it the Dem party, and ran for office in Massachusetts, no one anywhere would have any basis for complaint.

          I’m the legal age to run for Senate under the terms of the Constitution; that’s my legal name; the party name I chose isn’t trademarked. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on if you think there would be any legal basis whatsoever for keeping me off the ballot.

          1. You can legally change your name to Ted Kennedy, yes.

            You cannot get on the ballot under a “Dem” party label. The Democratic party would argue “hay that’s a bullshit spoiler” and they’d win. This position has been upheld by the supreme court many times.

            You can still fuck my horse, if you want.

            1. The Democratic party would argue “hay that’s a bullshit spoiler” and they’d win.

              That doesn’t make it any less bullshit. “That’s the way it is” isn’t an argument.

              This position has been upheld by the supreme court many times.

              Citation needed.

          2. This actually happened in a somewhat recent election that Jesse Jackson Jr. was involved in.

    2. That’s a super great observation, joe, you stupid fuck.

      1. Sarcasm or schizophrenia?

        1. What do you think, short stuff? Anonypussying suits you, joe.

    3. This is the rule so that democrats don’t find a guy named Don Paul and run him as a Libortarian to siphon votes from the real guy.

      Both candidates are independents and lack a party. So are you saying they are over reaching the rules intent?

      How hard is to to interpret the law as only being applicable to actual party affiliation rather then non-affiliation?

  4. I expect this is an overreach, but I expect it is nothing more sinister than the election bureacrats not wanting to deal with another candidate and paperwork.

    1. Evil things can be caused by laziness just as much as they can by malice.

  5. “even hitting a Castro-level 98 percent in 2000 when his only opponent was a Libertarian.”

    Get the message, guys? Use the deodorant!

  6. “Philadelphia’s congressmen, Chaka Fattah”

    Don’t forget about his friends, Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.