Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules Green Party will not appear on state's 2020 general election ballot

The ruling comes on the heels of a similar decision in Wisconsin.

September 17, 2020, 3:25 PM

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the Green Party presidential ticket would not be included on the state's general election ballot this year.

The move Thursday comes three days after the Wisconsin Supreme Court similarly decided Howie Hawkins and his running mate, Angela Walker, would not be on their state's ballot.

According to the Pennsylvania ruling, Hawkins and Walker were disqualified from appearing on the ballot because "procedures for nominating a candidate for office by nomination papers were not strictly followed." The issue was rooted in the fact that Hawkins and Walker were replacing another set of Green Party candidates on the ticket, Elizabeth Scroggin and Neal Gale, but the submitted documents for the initial candidates' filing were inadequate which ultimately barred those candidates, and their replacements, from appearing on the ballot.

Although losing representation on the ballots of two pivotal battlegrounds served a gut punch to the third-party ticket, Democrats could breathe a sigh of relief. In 2016, Donald Trump won Pennsylvania by just over 44,000 votes, while winning Wisconsin by nearly 23,000 votes. At the time, Jill Stein, the 2016 Green Party candidate had accumulated more votes in each state than the difference by which Trump beat Clinton.

PHOTO: Green Party gubernatorial candidate, Howie Hawkins, takes part in a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., Nov. 1, 2018.
Green Party gubernatorial candidate, Howie Hawkins, takes part in a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., Nov. 1, 2018. The state Supreme Court ruled Sept. 17, 2020, that Hawkins, the Green Party's candidate for president, did not strictly follow procedures for getting on Pennsylvania's ballot for the November election and cannot appear on it.
Hans Pennink/AP, File

The ruling clears the way for Keystone State officials to begin certifying ballots, which they previously were unable to do due to a lack of a finalized candidate list. Once the ballots are certified, they can be printed and disseminated to voters across the state.

Northampton County Chief Registrar Amy Cozze says her office has already been processing ballot applications for at least a month. In an interview with ABC News on Monday, Cozze said she was expecting a resolution to the hold up to come by the end of the month.

"We're ready to send ballots out when the state certifies them ... we keep telling people at the end of September, we'll begin mailing them, that's what we anticipated," she said.

Cozze, whose county was among the state's three pivot counties in 2016, said people would still have plenty of time to fill out and return their ballots under such a timeframe, a notion that's been echoed by the Pennsylvania Secretary of State's office.

"Courts in Pennsylvania have been very, very good about expediting any cases that have to do with an election ballot," Wanda Murren, the Pennsylvania Department of State's communication director said in a recent interview with ABC News.

"They totally understand what the counties are up against, and all of the many, many processes that need to be carried out," she added.

As soon as the ballots are certified, finalized and printed, Murren said voters can essentially use their mail ballots to vote early and in-person.

"A voter can go to the county election office, fill out an application for a mail ballot in person, hand in that application, get a ballot right then and there, vote and hand it back. So, it's a mail ballot but it can actually be done in person," she said.

Murren says her office will be promoting this kind of voting option across the state, and believes ballots are going to be ready in most counties by the end of September.

It remains to be seen how widely this process would be utilized given ongoing pandemic conditions.

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