In re Nomination in re Ford

994 A.2d 9 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2010)

 

RULE:

The provisions of the election laws relating to the form of nominating petitions and the accompanying affidavits are not mere technicalities but are necessary measures to prevent fraud and to preserve the integrity of the election process. The requirements of sworn affidavits are to insure the legitimacy of information crucial to the election process. Thus, the policy of the liberal reading of the Pennsylvania Election Code cannot be distorted to emasculate those requirements necessary to assure the probity of the process. The same must be applicable to an acknowledgment, rather than a notarization, of a circulator's affidavit pursuant to the Uniform Acknowledgment Act, 21 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 291.2, where the acknowledging officer failed to personally confront the circulator, did not personally know or have satisfactory evidence that the circulator was the person whose name was subscribed thereto, did not personally verify the act of execution of each of the circulator's affidavits, and  did not ask the circulator to swear and affirm the circulator's affidavit.

FACTS:

Respondent was a Democratic candidate for the Office of Representative in the United States Congress from the 17th Pennsylvania Congressional District in the General Primary Election to be held on May 18, 2010. Before the court was the petition to set aside the nomination petition of respondent candidate, which was filed by petitioner objector. Petitioner objector challenged the validity of many of the signatures on the nomination petition because they were not properly acknowledged or notarized. The court dismissed the petition to set aside. 

ISSUE:

Did the nomination petition contain fatal defects?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The court agreed to strike several pages from the respondent candidate's nomination petition since they were not properly acknowledged or notarized. The court found that several defects in the nomination petition, including in the preamble, were amendable and found the candidate's testimony credible that she informed each signer prior to singing that she was running for the Office of Representative in the United States Congress in the 17th District and when the election was going to be held. The court did strike various signatures that did not fully provide the signer's name or did not match the name of a registered voter. In all, the court found that the candidate was required to secure 1,000 valid signatures. The parties had stipulated that the candidate had 1,638 signatures on the nomination petition. As a result of the court striking a total of 593 signature lines from the nomination petition, the candidate still had 1,045 valid signatures remaining.

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