March 25, 2017

Cheri Honkala and Green Party candidate organization

Green Cheri Honkala may sue in federal court over losing the special election for Pennsylvania's 197th state House district.

Democrat Emilio Vasquez, according to vote canvassing, won the race with 1,970 votes to 282 for Honkala and 191 for Republican Lucinda Little. (Other votes went to one or another

Both Vasquez and Honkala were running as write-ins. Vasquez was a substitute after the Dems' original candidate was ruled ineligible for not living in the district.

Honkala? She missed the filing deadline by a day. (Other votes, beyond those listed, went to one or another of the six total write-ins, per this story which, while perhaps harsh to Honkala, is also snrky to the district in general.)

And, there are problems from there.

First, blaming a state agency's carelessness? Sounds a bit like blame-gaming. And, no, Honkala's legal mouthpiece, Samuel Stretton, there is not a fundamental right for a candidate's name to appear on a ballot regardless of filing deadlines. That said, in another piece, Honkala does seem to admit she blew it.

Honkala is suing claiming massive ballot irregularities, per the first link. Per Stretton's news release:
"We have evidence of at least one if not more ballot boxes at the victory party for Emilio Vasquez. I have been told of evidence of voters being intimidated in the voting booth. There is evidence of election workers such as judges of elections assisting people to vote for the democratic candidate. There is evidence of other voters being misled repeatedly and other acts of misconduct."
Details of the filing are here, at a Green Party webpage. Note: As of Friday afternoon, the information there, apparently taken off a PDF of Stretton's filing which run through Acrobat's OCR to extract text, hasn't been edited. And, I'm guessing that PDF came from a fax, or was written with a poor font; the errors I saw were mainly from bad OCR reads. That said, the Party, in another piece, details the allegations. At the same time, the party now jumps in on the blame game on the write-in issue, noting that Honkala wasn't on the ballot due to a "technical error.'

Let's say all of that is true, first. Would it be enough to flip 850 or so votes that Honkala would need for a plurality victory? Stretton says he has represented Democrats down to the ward level before and is still "sickened." And, yes, Philly elections have that bad of a reputation.

As for the allegations, again noted here, that Green Party piece? Even if all the allegations are true, they're NOT all illegal. I know the first one isn't illegal, and if you're really planning a suit in a court of law rather than a missive in the court of public opinion, it's never good to lead off that way.

Second one? Also not illegal, unless it was an election worker identifying him/herself as such, then making that statement. No. 4? If they were outside the 10-foot distance, and not election workers, also not illegal. All three of the above are dirty politics, but .... that's Philly. Otherwise, I'm not sure what or who "poll workers" are, but some people are of course allowed inside polling places. In Pennsylvania, here's the state's mix of law and suggestions on polling place peoples and actions. If the GP's "poll workers" are "clerks" as on the state's link, absolutely they're allowed in there. Now, what they can do is restricted, but that's different from whether they're allowed in there or not.

As for the missing ballot deadline? She ran for sheriff of Philadelphia in 2011, getting more than 6 percent, and was Jill Stein's Veep candidate in 2012. She should have some knowledge about deadlines, though it's unfair to call her an almost perennial candidate.

The main thing, though, is that if fraud wasn't as massive as she claims it was, that means that she couldn't get the vote out in a place that's supposed to be her ground zero. Yes, she was hindered by being a write-in, but so was Vasquez.

I mean, the previous state rep was booted out on a felony conviction, necessitating the fraud, and Philly politics has rough elbows indeed.

Beyond that, even if there was fraud, there was a total of six write-ins. How do you know all the votes that may have been stolen were stolen from you?

As for why this case is being filed in federal court for what is a state-level office? You got me. I'd presume the U.S. district court in Philly will bounce the case on grounds of not having original jurisdiction. This is just like Jill Stein's recount drives last year. In some cases, appeals eventually went to federal court, but they all started in the respective state court systems.

So, why is Stretton filing this way? Does he know he can't win this, and this is a way to throw sand in Green faces?

Finally, the amount of time and research I spent on this piece says something about my mindset related to all of this.

This all said, Honkala may well be a good activist for causes that need political solutions. But the skills and mindset both for that are different for being in electoral politics. Look at Barack Obama.

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