Other than in the past on a professional basis, when he wrote highly technical articles about IBM's AS/400 computer system, Brian Kelly receives no compensation for his work. Additionally, Kelly has not taken any donations or contributions other than for his US Senate Campaign of 2012. Mr. Kelly has recetly canceled his write-in campaign for the US Senate, and instead he endorses Tom Smith for US Senator from Pennsylvania v. Robert P. Casey Jr. If you would like to donate to the closed campaign to help defray costs, feel free to go to www.kellyforussenate.com and click the DONATE button. Your donations are most appreciated.
Additionally, if you would like to help Mr. Kelly in his efforts to continue to write free patriotic articles and to write additional patriotic books for the good of America, feel free to visit this site or that site to purchase Mr. Kelly's patriotic books. His latest book, Saving America, the How-To Book is available from this site. Thank you.
Please enjoy the rest of this article.
When an incumbent simply does his or her job, and you get something through the government maze perhaps just a bit faster, many citizens feel a sense of indebtedness. This is not lost on the trained politician who chalks up yet another voting soul into the bought and paid category. The longer a politician is in office the more their perspective changes into believing that they are far more important than they are, and they come to believe that everybody owes them something. Since incumbents control the laws governing the rules for ballot access, another of their corrupt acts is to keep the general public from becoming candidates for office. In Part III of this three part run about the problems with ballot access for regular Americans, from a candidate perspective, we take the issue of ballot access a bit further. After working through more of the scenarios regarding corrupt politicians, we examine the Range Voting / Score option that is designed to put an end to politicians limiting the ballot because of their “honest” fear of ballot clutter. Additionally, we discuss the notion of write-in candidacies as the ultimate form of democracy, and how states, even those with very liberal (easy) write-in candidacy rules often snake the candidates in the end by not counting the write-in votes.
When political candidates count you in their “for sure” bucket, more than likely, you have accepted one too many favors and you are now beholden to the politician. Many citizens call upon incumbents for such things as helping their children to get an edge for acceptance into colleges or medical schools or law schools. To know whether this is fair or not, ask yourself about the children who have no such access to dirty politicians? Citizens also call upon politicians to help their husbands or children get government jobs or a million other things that we can lump under the term, “line jumping.” If you are not a large campaign donor and in fact just have the guts to go ahead and ask for yours, then don’t worry, you are not corrupt. But, if it becomes a pattern and you and the incumbent are in simpatico, then you better check your conscience. Symbiotic relationships between certain citizens and politicians make it very difficult to get bad guys out of office.
Good people think they owe these hustlers merely for doing their jobs. Then, as a side benefit, if Johnnie gets something from a politician, everybody in the family all of a sudden is on that politico’s team. It certainly does not bring about good government. Politicians prostitute our system of government and then they take credit for helping everybody cheat in order to win. Though loving their children to pieces, parents do not teach well when they take the favors that put their children above all other parent’s children simply because of their “special” relationships. What about the next opportunity? Who do the parents pay off the next time? Who have they hurt in the past? and will it eventually matter to them?
One’s own competence for example, is not very important in gaining a government position of any kind. You and I know that. Yet, if you happen to know a politician and there is something in it for love or money for the politician to grant you your wish, your chances are better for sure. Unfortunately, your soul may be stained from the process. It is amazing what people will do sometimes just for a better place in line for anything they may need. Yet, the same folks would complain the loudest if anybody jumped the line in front of them at a movie theatre, a sports event, or a concert.
When we accept an undeserved gift from a politician, we lose more than we gain and our democracy suffers. Even if we solicited the favor, anything that comes from corruption should be refused. Ultimately, we will suffer the consequences when God takes US to judgment and shows US the face of the more needy soul that our personal corruption and line jumping prevented from getting what she deserved. Somebody, who was in line legitimately for that spot, or that particular favor, did not get it, because of our undue and corrupt persuasion. We undeservedly jumped in front of them, and helped a rotten politician justify his or her unethical ways, while hurting a deserving person, who was cast aside.
Would it not be better if the whole playing field were built level with no special gates, keys, passwords, or rituals required? Would it not be better if ordinary people competed fairly with ordinary people for whatever spoils there may be in our system of government?
Of course it would! Would it not be better to not need a gatekeeper to all the keys to success and instead the ordained system assured that the best person gets what is deserved, just as the cream naturally rises to the top.
In Part I, we discussed the big excuse politicians all over the world give to “explain” why they think restricting ballot access is good for the people. Though it is just a dishonest pretense, nonetheless, politicians have created the notion of ballot clutter, that suggests that when “too many” candidates qualify to run for office, the people lose. This excuse is claptrap. I would call the phenomenon of “too many people running for office,” as democracy in action, while politicians choose to call it ballot clutter. So far the politicians are winning on this subject, and they have been winning for well over 100 years. In part I of this article, we described why this notion cannot be supported logically. Yet, since the excuse of the cluttered ballot continues to be used by corrupt politicians across the world, the proponents of full ballot access for citizens have been compelled to develop a fine counter argument that wins the day. It is called range or score voting.
As already discussed; the worst possible scenario according to those who like the current system is to have ballot clutter. Many of us disagree and suggest that it is simply democracy in action. Not often discussed by legislators is a notion that permits voters to split their vote into percentages. This is known as range voting and it is a pretty spiffy idea. The proponents of range voting ask the following questions on their web site:
“If you were trying to design the worst way to vote, you might:
- Force voters to say the least possible amount – name just one candidate, and say nothing about how much you like or dislike any of the others.
- Make it reward voters for not voting for whom they really want.
- Make it operate, over time, in such a way as to diminish your number of choices to the minimum – only 2 (or 1, meaning no choice at all).
- Make it easy for fraudsters to invalidate ballots (“overvoting”).“
They quickly note that this is exactly how our current system works and then they propose range voting as the solution. Range voting is also known as score voting. If you have ever watched figure skating or diving in the Olympics, you have seen score / range voting in action. It works like this:
When you go into the voting machine, instead of one choice, you are now the Olympic judge and you get to give each of the candidates the score that you think they deserve. At the end of the Election Day, the person with the highest score wins the election. You can vote for everybody. However, if you give them all the same score, the effect is exactly the same as not voting.
In this way, every person who gets to vote has the opportunity to express an opinion about each candidate by their vote. The opinion may be good, bad, or indifferent. This scenario eliminates the notion of the election spoiler with two liberals and one conservative etc. It debunks all the politicians’ arguments about ballot clutter. You proportion your votes as you see fit. All candidates are equal in the “game,” whether they are Democrat, Green, Independent, Republican, etc. It is a simple enough theme that it would not bog down today’s smart voting machines, and the proponents suggest that the screen panels to support it can be used by kindergarteners. Here is how scoring might work in practice:
Each vote would consist of a numerical score within some range such as 0 to 99 for each candidate. A simpler range would be 0 to 9, which would be known as single digit score voting. Additionally, since voters may wish to express no opinion on some candidates, there would be an option such as X, for “no opinion,” that can be used if the voter has no opinion about a candidate.
Range voting is just one way to beat politicians regarding their arguments about ballot clutter. Yet, we all know their arguments are disingenuous in the first place.
Running for Office Can Be Hazardous to your Job.
I hope all people with any inclination to run for public office choose to do so. Many citizens think that the whole thing is so corrupt that if they ran for office they might be hurt or their families could be hurt simply because they chose to express their thoughts in our republic. Unfortunately, there is a risk, and our system should have more protections to assure candidates do not get hurt by aggressive politicians and their supporters. This makes it even more important for all of us to remove corrupt politicians who will hurt anybody to protect their “right” to take back their offices. I think that the Title 9 laws, as an example, which do not permit people to be fired for religion, race, sex, etc. should be expanded to include candidates so that a candidate that runs for office cannot be fired from his or her job.
I had already begun work on my Senate Website, and I had announced that I was running for the US Senate in 2012 against Robert P. Casey, Jr., when for me the boom fell. At the time, Life was great. I had been an Assistant Professor in Business Information Technology at Marywood University for about seven years.
Within two weeks of Republican Congressman Lou Barletta’s victory, in which I worked to help him gain Democratic votes, I got word that my faculty position had been eliminated due to a “restructuring.” My faculty chairperson, who had recruited me seven years earlier, took me aside and said he had nothing to do with it; but it was final. The word had come down from the administration.
What was done was done so I knew at the end of the next semester; I would have to move on. My politically active friends in Scranton, PA tell me not to believe any of the institution’s excuses. “You were fired because you embarrassed them when you ran for Congress and they were not about to let you embarrass them again running for the US Senate against the son of one of their board members.”
For my Senate campaign v. Robert P. Casey Jr., after finishing out the courses under my faculty contract, I spent the rest of 2011 preparing my Web site. In the fall of 2011, I received the endorsement of the Independence Hall Tea Party. After the endorsement, and after a few speeches, my campaign manager, Martin L. Devaney, one of the most wonderful men in the world, got very sick and could no longer help me in any way. Because he was fighting with every ounce he had just to live, he had to disengage from the campaign. Marty’s life was far more important for sure than anything I was doing. After a few months I canceled my campaign to gain ballot access. It had become very unlikely that our already weakened team would be able to bring in double the signatures that Marty Devaney led us to achieve in our run for Congress in 2010.
Marty was still rooting for me, but I just could not do it under the circumstances. On March 7, 2012, Marty passed away with all the support of his friends and his Pastor and even those who did not know him. He was a great man, and a big loss to America.
After having prepared all of my Web material, including over 90 poignant political articles for the benefit of the campaign v Bob Casey Jr., I felt that I could help some other conservative groups in Pennsylvania understand the real Bob Casey a little better. A group in Mansfield PA decided to put me on the program as a speaker because they saw me as a write-in candidate. However, at the time, I did not think of myself as a candidate.
I became a write-in candidate from that moment. I was in the race again. In Pennsylvania, the state has no role in a write-in candidacy, other than enabling it and then counting the votes. There are no packets, no registration, and no signatures required. There are also no fees. Literally, you do not have to spend a dime. Your mission is to get enough people to write you in. Eventually, I really bought into this notion, and actually wrote articles and spent some money on advertising. It cost me a lot less than having to get 2000 to 4000 valid signatures. It seemed like perhaps this was a way for regular people to get past the otherwise restrictive ballot access laws in PA. Maybe Ben Franklin had taught the politicos a lesson in civics and civility?
Most of the results of the 2012 Primary election in Pennsylvania are well known. Tom Smith, an entrepreneur, won the Republican nomination, while Bob Casey Jr., a career politician won the Democratic nomination. Casey defeated Joe Vodvarka, a small business owner and manufacturer of springs and wire forms. Along with his son, Vodvarka, a very nice man, did all he could to achieve a spot on the ballot. Additionally, there were write-in candidates, of which I was one.
In the upcoming general election I have not yet decided what I am going to do. People can still write me in. I know that I won’t be spending any money this time around. As a Pennsylvania conservative, however, I am pleased to find Tom Smith to be an appealing candidate and so I am inclined to back him and probably will when we finally make contact again. I have offered Mr. Smith whatever help I can give him from speeches to full use of the RRR plan, which I developed, at no charge. I would ask all Pennsylvanians to give Tom Smith a good look in November. I think he is poised to help bring America back to Americans. But, again, I am waiting to hear from him about a number of questions that I have asked. I will write again about his responses when they come in.
You may be curious with all of the dollars that I spent as an unknown write-in v Bob Casey Jr. exactly how many write-in votes did I get? After the election, I too was curious as I anxiously awaited the results. I knew that in Luzerne County, I would have at least five (my family), and perhaps a hundred, perhaps even a thousand or two thousand or even more votes from across all of Pennsylvania. My friends and neighbors and supporters were anxiously awaiting the counts for several weeks after the election; but I received no information. I had advertised in many counties. It was important for me, for a lot of reasons including that it would help me get a feeling for whether the advertising I had put forth had born fruit. It would also help me decide whether I would continue my campaign in the fall.
At the time, I had no idea that counting votes was optional in Pennsylvania. The State of PA, which claims responsibility for running the big elections also claims that it is not responsible for the vote count.
There is irony here for sure but there is no humor. How does a state that permits anybody to run for public office via the write-in channel negate that big ballot access advantage by not counting the votes of the people? Surely, for Pennsylvania, and its counties, not counting the votes costs the government less money. But, it also kills all notions of fairness in PA’s write-in law. If politicians can decide that some votes don’t get counted, they can decide that none should be counted? But, in neither case do they have the authority. Unauthorized and Unconstitutional, though their actions may be, they have taken this authority.
If saving dollars is more important than upholding the basic principles of democracy, the election process can be simplified and cost even less. The Governor or better yet a designee of the Governor, can simply hold a press conference and announce the office holders without needing an election at all. Think of the cost savings. He can use one of the many smoke filled rooms available in Harrisburg for the press conference? Why even bother powering up those electricity hogging new touch-screen voting machines when the state can decide whose votes are counted and whose are not? More money can be brought into the treasury when the voting machines are sold on eBay.
Why have elections ever again if they cost too much money? Elections and vote counts need only be done if a state practices democracy as described within the federal and the state Constitutions. In the current system, the people are expected to trust that the vote counts are accurate even though counting the votes is optional. Today, the write-ins are optionally counted, and perhaps tomorrow the Republican votes will be optionally counted. The next day it will be the Libertarians; then the Greens; and finally, only Democratic votes will be counted. This will make the Democrats very happy but destroy our republic. The current practice is against the law and it disenfranchises any citizen who runs for office and any citizen who votes. Ironically, PA made a big deal out of Voter ID legislation, yet valid voters who must now prove they have the right to vote, don’t have the right for their votes to count. This must change.
The states regularly fleece citizens for tax revenue for all kinds of even trivial functions. None of these is more important than assuring complete and honest elections with reasonable ballot access and with all votes being counted. Taxes are not optional. Fair ballot access and a complete tally of votes casted should not be optional either. The state should perform its duty properly and count all the votes, including the write-ins. The Constitution of PA and other states demands that all votes are counted and reported. So, let it be done.
Pennsylvania politicians deserve no “thank-you’s” for giving us more intentional corruption than most of US can stand. I wonder how many other states have rules like this that are intended to thwart the opportunities of its citizenry, while assuring incumbents more time in office. To solve this problem for all states, the time has come that we are fully justified to fire all state legislators who do not support the people.
About a month after the Primary Election in PA, in the process of attempting to convince the government and the politicians to count my write-in votes and those of all the other candidates, I engaged in an email discussion with a PA state employee. He was one of just two people with the awesome job of counting all of the write-in ballots in PA, even though the politicians really do not want them to be counted. Can you believe just two people for the whole State of Pennsylvania? What a shame!
The person was cordial and cooperative initially but recently he has chosen not to respond to me. He informed me that when all the tallies from the counties are in-house, they will release the totals for the write-in candidates. He also said he had no idea when that might be as it takes a lot of time to tally all the counts from all the counties. It is now about three months from the time of our last correspondence and four months from the PA Primary Election and so far, I have received no count. I sent this person a reminder last week and again no response. Rather than use my words, these are his words from May 22, 2012, just about a month after the Primary in PA.
“The State is still in the process of receiving write-in votes from the 67 counties. Once they are received, the Elections Division has a staff of two individuals to organize and add up all of the hundreds of pages of write-in votes from the counties for the 250 offices that were on the ballot. This will take some time. Once we have been able to finish our tabulations, the results will be posted on our website [No reference for the URL of the website was provided.] We will let you know when we have finished our tabulation and certified the election. We appreciate your patience. I hope this is of help.”
On August 23, I sent him a question as a reminder: “Have the votes been posted? What web site would I look for? Thank you.” As John Lennon of the Beatles would say: “No Reply!” It is amazing how public servants forget for whom they serve. I suspect that after I copied the Governor on my last correspondence, there is now a gag order on anything from me to the Elections Division. Government officials do not like being reminded that they have not done their jobs. Instead of reminding them; I am ready to fire all of our state’s officials the next chance I get.
Eventually, I called Luzerne County Voter Services in my home county to see how they were handling the write-ins. I asked for Tom Pisano, who is now the acting administrator after the county had removed his highly effective and courteous predecessor, Len Piazza. Len was a responsive and competent person. Pisano was not in his office that day but the phone receptionist told me without hesitation that the county would not be counting any write-in votes by policy. I left my number and asked her to have Mr. Pisano call me at his convenience so I could discuss this matter. She said he would call me shortly. Now, months later, Mr. Pisano has still not called.
On May 31, 2012, after not receiving a return call from Mr. Pisano, I wrote him a letter, and I copied Mr. Pisano’s boss, Robert Lawton, Luzerne County Manager. I also copied Thomas Corbett, Governor of the State of Pennsylvania. As of September 3, 2012, none of the three have had the courtesy to contact me by phone, by mail, or by email. After noting in my letter that I had been told that the County did not count write-ins, period, the meat of the letter that I sent is as follows:
“…Although I did not prevail in the election, it is significant for me to know the amount of votes I received as I did run a full write-in campaign and expended a considerable amount of money and time in promoting my candidacy statewide. It is also of additional relevance because I have yet to withdraw my candidacy with respect to the general election in November… As the focus of the campaign was here in Luzerne County, where our friends, families, neighbors, and coworkers came together, I must admit I was surprised and dismayed that the Election Services Offices brushed aside my inquiry as though it were trivial…”
The generic rule for counting ballots is very nebulous in PA and perhaps also in your state. When the “powers that be” in a specific county of PA are in lockstep with corrupt politicians not interested in making it easy for citizens to run for office, they OK policies to not count ballots. It is simply OK to not do what the PA Constitution says they must.
Depending on the office for which you may choose to run, and the state in which you choose to run for office, it may be possible for a voter to cast a valid write-in vote for a candidate whose name does not appear on the ballot. Though it is extremely rare for such a candidate to win office, it is possible, and democracy demands that the votes be counted. We must remember that Lisa Murkowski, who would not say “no,” no how, won her 2010 write-in election in Alaska. If hypothetically, Luzerne County and other counties in PA were responsible for counting her votes, she would not have made Senator. Of course Lisa Murkowski spent more than a million dollars, and I certainly do not have that kind of money. But she had money and helped the people change their minds. There are other examples in US history. Being rich in the US is not a requirement to run for office, but the ballot access laws speak a different language. .
In some cases, especially in states that cannot figure it out, write-in votes are simply not counted. The point is that getting your name on the ballot gives a candidate an enormous advantage over candidates, who are not on the ballot. We have already discussed how difficult it is for regular people such as Jane Q. Public to get on the ballot so it is obvious that write-in candidates are very important to our democracy. That would imply that counting write-in votes is equally as important.
The United States Supreme Court has noted that write-in status is absolutely no substitute for being on the ballot. It is clearly easier to win an election when on the ballot. However, the Court does permit the notion of write-in candidates just as the Founders would have done. The implication, of course is that write-in ballots must be counted by the state or at least by someone in authority. Yet, the counties of PA and other states deny democracy to their citizens and refuse to do the count! In my case, I was not even granted the favor of a response from a Luzerne County or state official.
One would think that as more and more Luzerne Country officials, including judges, public officials, and school board presidents, are being locked up with long sentences for corruption, that the county political chiefs would go that extra mile to assure that there was not even the mere hint of impropriety in any of their actions. But, in Luzerne County there are always surprises, and none benefit the people.
For example, after he was accused of bribery—accepting $5,000 for a teaching job, a local school board elevated the perpetrator to President of the Board. He later resigned in disgrace and was convicted. Never learning its lessons, the board, with replacement players in the two slots for those doing jail time, shamelessly hired the disgraced president’s daughter because she was the “best” candidate. They have also continued the practice of hiring the wives, husbands, and children of board members, while mere mortals (citizens) are denied such positions. Only in Luzerne County PA!
So, why would I have thought that I would get an honest shake from a county run by progressive / liberal Democrats? I was never invited me to a Party meeting, though I held the # 1 ballot position when I ran for Congress. The former head of the PA Crime Commission is very familiar with Luzerne County. He recently said that he expects that the US Attorney’s Office will remain active in Luzerne County for a long time to come.
PABALLOTACCESS.ORG lobbies all the time for access and for counting of the ballots of ordinary citizens when access is lightly granted or not granted at all. They have the issue down to a science as you can read here: “The flip side of the ballot access coin is that when candidates are denied ballot access by Pennsylvania’s unequal ballot access laws, and then choose to run a write-in campaign rather than give up on the voters they represent, they face the added obstacle that some counties in Pennsylvania won’t count the write-in votes that are cast for them. This makes the effect of PA’s discriminatory ballot access laws even worse than they would otherwise be!
“There is a good chance your vote wasn’t counted if you voted for a write-in candidate. The likelihood of that happening depends on what county you live in and what candidate you wrote-in. Votes for more popular write-in candidates are more likely to be tabulated [not guaranteed] than candidates who only get a handful of votes. The law requires county boards of elections to tabulate votes and submit a certified tabulation of those votes to the Secretary of State. But the Bureau of Commissions, Elections, and Legislation (BCEL), which is the Department of State Division that handles this, has little ability to compel county election boards to count the write-ins. Some counties report a thorough breakdown with all write-in votes. Some counties report totals for popular candidates and combined total for all the other candidates. Some counties only report a combined total of all write-in votes for a particular office, without breaking out tallies for any particular candidates. And a few counties don’t report write-in votes AT ALL!
“Choosing not to count write-in votes is another way in which the election process in Pennsylvania is structured to discriminate against voters having meaningful choices. If it were not bad enough that PA limits your choices in the voting booth, they often go the additional step of not counting your vote if you refuse to have your choices constrained to whom they deem ballot worthy.”
So, your state which can make any citizen do anything, including paying high taxes, says it cannot make the counties follow the PA Constitution. Do you really believe that Pennsylvania and other states are powerless when dealing with counties or parishes or other subdivisions? It is time for lawmakers to remember that the people voted them in to assure democracy, not to deny it. We also have the power to vote them o-u-t!
Winding down, I have noted that I have yet to receive a count from the state or the county, though I have asked each for exact tallies. They just do not care what the people think. After sending respectful correspondence to the head of voter services in Luzerne County, PA, with copies to the County Manager and the Governor of the state, a reasonable prudent person would have expected a response or a reason, at least as a courtesy to a citizen, more than likely from the least important person in the letter chain. Yet, I received nothing and so the questions I leave with you all are the following:
Is ballot access simply a game designed by incumbents for incumbents? Is it the reason why few good men and women run for public Office? One thing we know for sure is that public servants and elected officials do not run the states or the federal government. The people do. When our elected officials choose not to follow the laws of the country or the states, we owe it to ourselves to recall them if we live in a state, in which recall is permitted. At the very least, we must never elect such people again. The Founders created a country of the people for the people, and by the people, and we the people must make sure that our particular states provide for ballot access for regular citizens without forcing any of US to go through unnecessary hoops that would favor an incumbent. Additionally, the write-in ballot is a staple of freedom in our democracy.
A write-in campaign may be the only way that Todd Akin, a Missouri Senate candidate can be replaced. Without telling this oft-told story again, let’s just say that Akin pulled a major political blunder and in so doing, he has become an undesirable Republican candidate. Yet, he is the only Republican candidate on the ballot. Missouri conservatives do not want liberal Senator Claire McCaskill to represent Missouri, and so they may have little choice but to wage a well funded write-in campaign to beat both Akin and McCaskill. Without write-ins being counted, the point is that America loses.
Of course, citizens in Missouri and across the country should not have obstacles placed in front of them to prevent them from becoming candidates for office in their respective states. Additionally, once on the ballot or through the highly patriotic write-in process, all the votes in Missouri and in Pennsylvania, and all across the US in every election must be counted and duly reported.
Brian Kelly is a business owner and former assistant professor at Marywood University; he and his wife live in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Kelly is running for Senate in his state and believes limited government brings liberty and freedom.
About Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly is a business owner and former assistant professor at Marywood University; he and his wife, Pat live in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Kelly ran for COngress and for the US Senate in his state and he believes limited government brings liberty and freedom. Brian's 48th book is titled, Saving America, The How-To Book. It is available at www.checkoutking.com and www.itjungle.com.