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STEEL NOMINATION PETITION (05/24/54)

May 24, 1954

STEEL NOMINATION PETITION


Appeal, No. 40, May T., 1954, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, 1954, Commonwealth Docket No. 40, in re Objections to Nomination Petition Filed by Walter R. Steel etc. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

P. J. McArdle, for appellant.

William S. Bailey, with him G. Thomas Miller and Storey, Bailey & Rupp, for appellee.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 377 Pa. Page 261]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE JONES

This appeal is from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County dismissing objections to a nomination petition for State senator in the 42nd Senatorial District on the Republican ballot to be used at the primary on May 18, 1954. Because of the need for a prompt decision, we entered a final order, after argument, affirming the court below and noting that an opinion would be filed later. . .The objector originally alleged a number of defects in the nomination petition in controversy. But, as the case stood, after a hearing and findings by the learned court below, the basic question involved was whether the petition contained the requisite number of valid signatures of qualified electors of the district. That question, in turn, depended upon whether the separate sheets of the petition were "bound together... [so as] to constitute one petition" as required by Sec. 909 of the Pennsylvania Election Code of 1937 (Act of June 3, 1937, P.L. 1333, 25 PS § 2869).

The material facts found by the learned court below disclose the following situation. About 10 o'clock A.M. on March 15, 1954, the last day for filing in the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth nomination petitions of candidates seeking places on the ballot to be used at the succeeding primary, Laurence V. Gibb, acting for Walter R. Steel, the respondent and appellee, presented to the Secretary of the Commonwealth personally the petition of Steel as a candidate for the Republican nomination for senator from the

[ 377 Pa. Page 26242]

    nd Senatorial District. At that time the petition consisted of four separate folded sheets numbered consecutively and containing the names of 214 signers. As the petition contained more than the legally requisite number of signatures (200) for nomination to the office of State senator and was apparently regular on its face, the Secretary of the Commonwealth, upon payment of the filing fee, accepted it and marked it filed. Approximately two hours later, viz., at 12 o'clock noon, one John C. Hunter, also acting for Steel, appeared at the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, bringing with him a petition consisting of a folded sheet containing 118 additional signatures likewise petitioning Steel's inclusion on the primary ballot for the Republican nomination for senator. Hunter inquired of the Secretary whether Gibb had been there and, when told that he had been and had gone, Hunter gave the additional sheet of signers to the Secretary, saying, "Here is one he [Gibb] forgot." The Secretary, looking at the additional sheet proffered by Hunter, said "Walter R. Steel! I'll take that and attach it to the petition he [Gibb] filed." Later that afternoon Gibb, who had returned to Pittsburgh, called the Secretary of the Commonwealth by telephone and inquired whether Hunter had filed the additional sheet and, if so, whether it was a part of the petition. The Secretary replied, -- "It is now a part of the petition."

When James F. McCaffrey, the present appellant, who duly filed objections to the Steel nomination petition, went to the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth on the succeeding day (March 16th) to examine the nomination petitions for senator on the Republican ticket in the 42nd Senatorial District, the Steel petition, which was handed to him, consisted only of the four sheets containing 214 signatures as originally filed. Being of the opinion that a sufficient

[ 377 Pa. Page 263]

    number of the 214 signatures were of persons not qualified to sign the petition and that their elimination would reduce the valid signatures to less than the minimum number (200) required by law, McCaffrey filed his ...


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