Televised U.S. Senate Debate Loses Sponsor for Excluding Third Parties

Created: 22 October, 2018
Updated: 21 November, 2022
2 min read

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - WPVI-TV Action News of Pennsylvania has lost an important sponsor, The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, for excluding third parties from a televised U.S. Senate debate over the weekend, even though they're on the ballot this year.

The Philadelphia ABC affiliate only invited the Democrat and Republican candidates to debate, despite the fact that the Green Party and Libertarian Party has candidates on the ballot in November. The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, which was a co-sponsor helping to organize the event, assured the Libertarian Party candidate, Dale Kerns, that he would be invited to the debate, only to be rebuffed by other event organizers.

"Make no mistake, this is cronyism: big media corporations colluding with big government political parties to keep out competition," says Dale Kerns. "The mainstream media screams about Russia stealing elections, but behind the scenes they pull the strings to keep the duopoly in control."

A WPVI-TV spokeswoman says the station has a requirement that candidates reach a threshold of ten percent support in multiple reputable statewide polls in order to qualify for the debate stage, and only Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Casey Jr. and his Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta met the requirement this year.

Libertarian Party candidate Dale Kerns and Green Party candidate Neal Gale failed to poll well enough to be included according to this criterion, but the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania explained in a press release that it believes any candidate whose name will be presented for the voters' consideration on the ballot should be included in any debates the League sponsors.

By taking this stand for the minor party candidates who have met the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's requirements to appear on the ballot, the League is certainly remaining true and consistent to its values. On its website, the LWV of Pa. describes its principles thusly:

"The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania (LWVPA) is a grassroots citizen engagement organization dedicated to encouraging informed and active participation in government by all Pennsylvanians, working to increase understanding of major local, state, and national public policy issues, and influencing public policy through education and advocacy."

How can voter participation in government be informed if they won't even be given an opportunity to hear every candidate on the ballot debate and answer the same questions as the other candidates?

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