Reader Poll: Are Petitions The Best Way for Candidates to Get on the Ballot?

Nominating_Petition-300x225The first weekend of petition season has come and gone, luckily with great weather for most of the state.  But are petitions the best way to get onto the ballot?

Recent court decisions have been trending more towards allowing more names on the ballot, making it hard to get people kicked off the ballot for bad petitions.

So we put the question to you, are petitions the best way for candidates to get on the ballot?

Are petitions the best way for candidates to get on the ballot?


  • Candidates should just have to pay a fee to get their name on the ballot. (54%)
  • Petitions are a great way to sort out valid candidates who have a chance of winning the primary. (46%)

Total Voters: 623

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February 21st, 2017 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Poll | 10 Comments

10 thoughts on “Reader Poll: Are Petitions The Best Way for Candidates to Get on the Ballot?”

  1. OldTimer says:

    Last year, I got stuck and had to walk home because I was out getting signatures in a snow storm. It was not fun, but I wanted my candidates on the ballot and I wanted to help, so I did it.

    The entire thought process behind using petition’s is that people interested in running for public office need to show that they have a group of people willing to support them. That is a step that is necessary to get onto the ballot. I am in favor of this process. However, scrunching the process into a small period of time in the middle of the winter makes the process more difficult and favors incumbents. It makes no logical sense, and can place people at risk of getting hurt falling due to ice/snow. I am in favor of keeping the petition process, but increasing the time frame during which a potential candidate can obtain signatures.

    I am definitely not in favor of potential candidates only needing to pay a fee (there is already a fee in place).

  2. Mark O'Keefe says:

    I’m curious what other states do? This system is designed to protect incumbents and make it difficult for newcomers to run. Who cares how many people run? The more the merrier. It’s not like you’re going to have hundreds of people running for a school board or borough council. Give voters some credit. I definitely think we need a new system.

  3. Huh? says:

    Ballot access proponents ignore that the hurdles counter-balance the ballot position lottery – where once past a handful of candidates voters often lose interest or ability to locate and vote for quality candidates. Good otherwise qualified candidates may get buried in a pack of 75 names where no one can find them on the ballot to vote for them, while an inadequate candidate with the sole qualification of a luckily drawn ballot position gets first spot and wins, due to dilutive votes amongst the many candidates.

  4. walker says:

    Got to have a way to sort out those that are serious from the rest. While I hate doing it, it’s the best filter system. If a candidate isn’t willing to commit to read the rules, organize a few helpers and get the job done, they’ll never be a reasonable elected official.

  5. Ok with Petition Process says:

    I’m ok with the over petition process. It could be an extra week, since its over winter time and when we do get bad weather, its hard to get signatures. That said, if you can get 10, 100 or 250 signatures or more, pending the office, then maybe you should be running. We would have sometimes 20-30 candidates for a race, if you could just pay a fee. Get the signatures and be a serious candidate.

  6. PacMan says:

    The petition process is a very fair way for candidates to earn their way on to the ballot in PA. Yes, while it makes many operatives (*gasp*) actually have to put some hard work into a campaign in a pretty early part of the process, candidates/operatives who truly know how to organize can get through it without too much trouble. Party-endorsed candidates can have an easier go of the process, but it is definitely not impossible to do it without that advantage (I’ve done it for several candidates). I do believe that improvements can be made such as a slightly longer period for collection (3 weeks is a short window for some of the required numbers). However I do believe that this process does go a long way towards sorting out the pretenders and contenders.

  7. David Diano says:

    It’s a mixed bag, but getting candidates to show support from the voters is not unreasonable. Petitions signed by voters are often used to create change and demonstrate the will of the people.

    The challenge process needs some improvements. Women are disproportionally disenfranchised when their registered last name has a mismatch due to change in marital status. Many assume that the DMV automatically updates their voter information (and sometimes the requests to update fail to occur).

  8. MHB says:

    They need to admit the process is defended because it favors incumbents with organizations in place to help them; it favors the endorsed party candidates. The fear is that simplifying the process would cause too many candidates on the ballots. There is a valid justification for concern of a zillion candidates, not possibly qualified, nut cases getting on the ballots with too many for voters to be be able to have any realistic knowledge of who, what they each really are. Still there are many improvements could be done to the current system that somehow legislatures never ask US who do this and organize others to do the petitions, what could make it less hellish. One, would be to have them before January 1st allowing plenty of time for descent organizing in counties that are all volunteer helpers. No paid staffers. 2ndly decrease the number of signatures and the ludicrous rules that go with getting the signatures. These have become another exercise in unrealisam and contradiction between what the rules on the petitions say, and what lawyers and judges have decided is said, that isn’t said. Unrealistic rules! Ludicrous and specious reasoning about “knowing the signer”, etc. Room for a lot of improvement.

  9. MHB says:

    I have helped/worked/volunteered for the Republican party my entire life. The one annual project I despise is the wretched petitions. For Pa. the time of year is atrocious due to unpredictable weather that can make it nearly an impossible killer.So this year the weather has been cooperative! Yea. Don’t count on it as it can also kill the entire process. The time period allowed is far too short. We don’t get the petitions early enough to have sufficient time to organize distribution ahead of time (one of the many insulting idiotic excuses for this has been if “people get them too early they will circulate to early”. Insanity. So what. So, if too early they would lose their signatures! Worse is the insult to the intelligence of people they want to use as lackeys for this insane process. Smart enough to get signatures for the candidates but too dumb to have them early! Really. The notarization process, getting the petitions rounded up, and getting them into the state fast enough is another horror. What does it prove about the importance of getting signatures anyway when 95 % or those signing, and more for state wide candidates, don’t know the candidates anyway?
    Only those who live in a la la land can defend this whole process. Has to be a better way.

  10. gulag Pittsburgh says:

    The process of getting on the ballot should not be confused with winning the primary. Nobody thought Trump had a chance when he announced, but he won. “Valid candidates” is an odd term to use in this question. While some small number of signatures might be OK on an application, or petition, to be a candidate, the present system is far too onerous, which is meant to favor the “approved” candidate of each party.

Comments are closed.