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Challenges Await New Candidates as Petition Period Shortens

Getting on the primary ballot has never been more difficult for aspiring candidates to statewide office.

A Wolf administration proposal to shorten the petition period from 19 to 12 days raises the bar for political campaigns to obtain the necessary signatures to qualify for the May 17 ballot.

The state statute called for the three-week nomination petition filing to begin on February 15. With the delay in formalizing congressional or state legislative maps, that timeline has been made obsolete.

While the Supreme Court will rule on the questions in the upcoming days, everything else is on hold. The signature threshold varies from office to office, ranging from 2,000 signatures for U.S. Senate and gubernatorial candidates to 300 for state representatives. As soon as the high court rules, expect a lot of doorbell ringing in your neighborhood.

“Our candidates are ready to hit the ground running,” Democratic political consultant Marty Santalucia told the Pennsylvania Capital-Star

Last Monday, the Department of State argued that the timeline for signatures must be condensed to avoid moving the May 17 primary. A judicial order to move the election later would likely be challenged for violating the U.S. Constitution.

Uncertainty reigns at the moment. A motion to intervene in the redistricting case filed by Teddy Daniels, a GOP lieutenant governor hopeful, has laid out the argument as he looks to get 1,000 signatures for his petition.

“Even a modestly truncated campaign schedule will adversely affect Mr. Daniels because, in a competitive primary, … each day counts,” states the filing.

House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff has argued that the congressional elections for State House and Senate races should be held using the 2012 congressional maps until the map issues are resolved.

The Department of State has suggested a window from March 1-15 for nomination petitions once the congressional map is established. However, since the state legislative maps will not be established until mid-March, the DOS put forth a proposal for March 20-29 as the timeline for state House and Senate candidates to collect signatures.

There are concerns. “Certainly, it doesn’t give very much opportunity for new people to get signatures,” said Logan Hoover, a 21-year-old Republican running to replace Dave Hickernell (R-Lancaster) to the Capital-Star. “I’ve been in the political realm for a little bit, but not near enough that going down to nine days wouldn’t be an unfair challenge to the race.”

A shorter petition period will hinder free and fair elections, Pittsburgh Democratic state House candidate La’Tasha Mayes added, “and it is impractical for campaigns, elections staff, and most importantly, community members, to be pushed into a two-week petitioning period.”

11 Responses

  1. Those people with short memories probably don’t know that in 2018 there was a 5 week petition period.. The first 2 weeks were only for State candidates, then one week for all candidates. Then the last 2 weeks only Congress because the Supreme Court drew a new map

  2. Upon hearing that the court is considering shortening the signature gathering period for the primary election, I wish to convey my spirited opposition to such a move. I have run for the PA House 3 times over the years and it is an arduous task to accomplish. The incumbents are given an advantage because they have the funds, staff, and apparatus to obtain signatures quickly. Any other candidate normally will have to gather the signatures for themselves. Even when not in a world pandemic, It is extremely difficult to get a person to open their door and have them sign a legal document, such as a nomination petition. It could take 8 hours to get 15 valid signatures! Many obtained signatures are done improperly and a candidate must get at least double the required amount to ward off getting thrown off the ballot!
    During the pandemic, the court should, as many Judges across the country have granted relief, actually reduce the amount of signatures required to get on the ballot. Last election,the Wolf administration fought extremely hard to not allow 3rd party candidates any relief on the amount of signatures required to run for office. However, 3rd party candidates get several months to gather signatures and Republican and Democratic candidates have to perform in a 21 day period!
    Please do not impose this significant hardship on the non-incumbent candidates for public office! The candidates did not create this “snowball” of various missed deadlines.
    The prudent method to address this chaos would be to allow candidates at least 3 full weeks or more to do this or simply reduce the required signatures to 20% of the normal requirement.
    The most important issue is to provide the best selection of candidates for the citizens of Pennsylvania. A reduction in days to gather signatures would be a poor decision and will result in less choices for the voting public.

    Sincerely yours,

    John Weinrich
    Candidate for PA 152nd District

  3. 3 weeks is already too short to collect valid signatures. then the petition challenges will have to be researched, filed, heard in trial court , and appealed to commonwealth court. there is currently a ridiculously short amount of time to prepare and file petition challenges to keep the fraudsters off the primary ballot. I can name a few current electees who slipped thru w fraudulent and forged signatures for lack of time for opponents to prepare petition challenges — but I won’t.

  4. why not just cut the electorate out completely and have the Parties nominate their guy? GOP would be fine with that.

        1. Not an income limit but a net worth limit of a few million. Trust me, I’m bald, a douchebag and suck off rich people for influence. Come on man!

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