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Court flips on signature rules for Pa. nominating petitions

April 8, 2021 GMT

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Voters who sign a Pennsylvania political candidate’s nominating petition have to list the address where they are registered to vote or it does not count, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The decision overturns a 5-year-old precedent because of a more recent change in state law. The court had previously held that a petition signature could not be invalidated just because the voter’s address did not match their voter registration address.

The ruling was made in a challenge to Rania Major’s petition to run in the Democratic primary for judge in Philadelphia. The court upheld a decision to keep Major off the ballot.

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Justice Kevin Dougherty wrote that 2019 revisions to state election law require the signer “to use the address where he or she is duly registered and enrolled, on pain of disqualification of the signature.”

In a concurring opinion, Chief Justice Thomas Saylor said he is open to an argument that the address defect can be fixed, saying courts should generally try to protect people’s right to vote, consistent with statutory law.

Candidates have to obtain voters’ signatures in order to qualify for the ballot, and the accuracy and validity of those signatures regularly generates disputes that state courts end up having to resolve.