IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF CENTRE COUNTY
Chair, Libertarian Party of Centre County
Director, Centre County Board of Elections
PETITION TO REMOVE STUDENT PARTY CANDIDATES
Nomination papers were submitted for Student Party candidates to run for mayor and three councilman positions in State College Borough. The nominating papers contained 41 signatures.
Respondent Joyce McKinley, acting in her capacity as Director of the Centre County Board of Elections, first rejected the nominating papers on the grounds that there were insufficient number of signatures based on the last general election held in November 2000.
On August 16, 2001, Respondent Joyce McKinley reversed her decision, because the Board of Elections determined that the proper basis for determining the number of signatures should be based on the last municipal general election, which was in November 1999. Student Party candidates were reinstated.
Petitioner is Chair of the Libertarian Party of Centre County. The Libertarian Party is running candidates for the same offices in State College Borough as the Student Party. Thus the Libertarian Party candidate results in the November 2001 election can be affected by the presence of competing candidates. Petitioner is an aggrieved party.
The cause of action of this petition is Pennsylvania Statute 25 P.S. §2911(b), which states in part: "In the case of all other nominations, the number of qualified electors of the electoral district signing such nomination papers shall be at least equal to two per centum of the largest entire vote cast for any officer, except a judge of a court of record, elected at the last preceding election in said electoral district for which said nomination papers are to be filed,"
In Note 6 of 25 P.S. §2911, in the first paragraph that starts on page 370 of Purdons, it states, in part: "In computing the number of signatures necessary for a nomination petition under this section the basis is the largest number of votes cast in the election district at the last general election, even though the candidates were elected on a city-wide basis, rather than an election district basis."
This position is stated more forcefully in the decision of the Winsley Nomination Petition, 11 D. & C. 3d, 781 (1979) (Exhibit A): "In computing the number of signatures necessary for a nomination petition under section 951 of the Pennsylvania Election Code of June 3, 1957, P.L. 1333, the basis is the largest number of votes cast in the election district at the last general election, even though the candidates were elected on a city-wide rather than an election district basis, rather than at the last election at which a candidate was elected by the particular election district involved."
There are two court decisions that bear on this issue. The first is a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, Moore v. Osser, 233 A.2d 579 (1967) (Exhibit B). This case involved an election for mayor, a four-year office. One side contended that the appropriate general municipal election for the basis should be the last previous one (two years prior). The other side contended that the appropriate general municipal election for the basis should be the last previous general election in which a mayor was elected (four years prior). The Court ruled in favor of the two-year prior election, stating that the basis is related to the election, not to the office.
The second court ruling was in the Winsley Nomination Petition. Here one side claimed that the appropriate general municipal election for the basis should be the last general municipal election (two years prior). The other side contended that the appropriate general municipal election for the basis should be the last one for which electors could elect someone in that specific election district (four years prior). This side did not contend that the basis had to be taken from candidates running solely in that district. The court ruled in favor of the second position.
Based on the above, the correct basis for the State College offices in November 2001 should be the highest vote total for any candidate, whether county-wide, school-district wide, or borough-wide, in the last election in which State College positions were elected, i.e. the election of 1999.
In the general election of November 1999, Roger Bierly, running for a county-wide office, received 2751 votes in State College Borough. Thus the number of signatures needed is two per centum of that, or 55.
The Student Party candidates obtained 41 signatures on their nominating papers. Thus they failed to reach the required number of 55.
Petitioner moves that the student Party candidates not be placed on the ballot for the November 6, 2001, general election.
Julian Heicklen, Petitioner
________August 17, 2001_