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PA Supreme Court to rule on residency requirement for collecting ballot signatures

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September 9, 2010

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will be weighing in on the state requirement that people collecting signatures to put candidates on the ballot must live in the district where the candidate is running. The issue came to the forefront last month when Carl Stevenson was disqualified from the ballot because 97 of his signatures were obtained by someone who did not reside in the district.[1]

Stevenson, who is seeking to run as an Independent for the 134th District seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, had his nominating papers challenged by Alburtis Mayor Robert Mader and Emmaus Republican committeeman Michael Gibson. According to their lawyer, the action was on behalf of incumbent Republican Douglas Reichley.

The issue is complicated by a 2002 federal injunction which prevents the Pennsylvania Department of State from enforcing the state law, which was ruled to be unconstitutional as it violated rights of free speech and free association. However, Judge James Kelley, who disqualified Stevenson, stated that the federal ruling was not binding on state courts.

The Department of State submitted a friend-of-the-court brief asking the court to resolve the federal-state conflict and provide guidance how they can comply with the ruling.[2]


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