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ROTH v. TUCKER (03/08/72)

decided: March 8, 1972.

ROTH, ET AL.
v.
TUCKER, SECRETARY OF THE COMMONWEALTH, ET AL.



Original jurisdiction in case of Gerald Roth, Eugene R. Hartzell, Robert Ungerleider, Dennis J. Cramsey, Justin D. Jirolanio, Dorothy M. Zug, Daniel E. Cohen, and Roy C. Afflerbach, Individually and for all other persons similarly situated v. C. Dolores Tucker, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Milton J. Shapp, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and James A. Green, Commissioner of the Bureau of Elections, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

COUNSEL

Daniel E. Cohen and Gerald I. Roth, for plaintiffs.

Thomas J. Oravetz, Deputy Attorney General, and J. Shane Creamer, Attorney General, for defendants.

Judges Mencer, Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[4 Pa. Commw. 565 Page 566]

The importance of what has become popularly known as the Presidential Primary can no longer be underestimated. Its psychological effect on both politicians and the general electorate is enormous. Not only can it influence political trends, but it can often launch or shipwreck the voyage of a presidential hopeful. The national conventions of the various political parties are keenly aware of the voter impact resulting from such primaries.

There has also been a growing belief that the electorate should have a greater voice in the selection of candidates at the parties' national conventions. One method of achieving this desired result would be to afford the voters of any party the opportunity, at state primary elections, to elect delegates to the National Convention who were committed to a specific presidential candidate. In response to this belief the Legislature amended the "Pennsylvania Election Code"*fn1 by the Act of December 22, 1971, P.L. , 25 P.S. ยง 2753 et seq., to allow selection of national convention delegates and alternate delegates who are committed to specific Presidential candidates.

Plaintiffs, in the case now before us, are all candidates for District Delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention. One of the plaintiffs is seeking election as a delegate committed to Presidential candidate Henry M. Jackson and all other plaintiffs are uncommitted to any particular Presidential candidate. Plaintiffs challenge the legality of the manner of casting lots for the position of names of candidates for Delegate

[4 Pa. Commw. 565 Page 567]

    and Alternate Delegate on the primary ballot which was prescribed and utilized by the Secretary of the Commonwealth on February 22, 1972.

The Secretary of the Commonwealth formulated the following procedure:

"Lots shall be drawn and ballot positions shall be determined per senatorial or congressional districts. In a case where party rules provide for a candidate for Delegate to express either his commitment to a particular candidate or his uncommitment; the name of each presidential candidate who has filed a Declaration of Candidacy with the Secretary of the Commonwealth and who has submitted petitions of candidates committed to his or her candidacy shall be drawn for ballot positions along with the uncommitted category by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, or her designee.

"The Secretary of the Commonwealth, or her designee, shall draw lots*fn2 for each Presidential candidate and uncommitted; the lowest number drawn per category shall be placed upon the ballot first. The Secretary of the Commonwealth, or her designee, shall then proceed to the drawing of lots for those candidates within the category which drew the lowest number, and those names shall be placed upon the ballot within that ...


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