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PETITION FRANK JONES JR. (10/16/75)

decided: October 16, 1975.

IN RE PETITION OF FRANK JONES JR., DEMOCRAT CANDIDATE FOR WASHINGTON COUNTY TREASURER, APPELLANT


COUNSEL

Salvatore Panepinto, D. Keith Melenyzer, Charleroi, for appellant.

Gustave Diamond, Cooper, Schwartz, Diamond & Reich, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., files a dissenting Opinion. Manderino, J., dissents for the reason that this appeal was filed within 30 days of the trial court's Order of August 4, 1975 and thus should not be quashed. Jones, C. J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Nix

[ 464 Pa. Page 154]

OPINION OF THE COURT

The present controversy arises from a contested election in the May 20, 1975, Primary between two of five candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the office of County Treasurer. The original vote indicated that Mr. Yoney, appellee, received a plurality of 158 votes over his nearest rival, Mr. Jones, appellant. This appeal results from the refusal of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County to grant appellant's request that all of the ballot boxes in the county be impounded, opened and recanvassed.*fn1

Before we can consider the merits of this appeal, we must address the questions raised by the Motion to Quash the appeal as untimely filed. To understand this issue, it is first necessary to set forth chronologically the events that preceded the filing of the instant appeal. As has been stated, the election was held on May 20, 1975. On June 6, 1975, the County Board provisionally certified the returns for the Democratic nominee for the office of County Treasurer, indicating that Mr. Yoney had a plurality of 158 votes over Mr. Jones, his nearest opponent. On June 4, 1975, two days before this certification, petitions were filed on behalf of Mr. Jones requesting the opening of 16 ballot boxes and the recounting of the ballots therein. Recount Boards were appointed and their reports of the recount of the 16 ballot boxes were

[ 464 Pa. Page 155]

    filed on June 25, 1975.*fn2 Subsequently, on June 30, 1975, counsel on behalf of Mr. Jones, filed a petition to open all of the ballot boxes within the county which had not been previously opened and in the alternative requested that 28 boxes, specifically referred to in their petition, be opened. Yoney responded by filing preliminary objections. On July 10, 1975, the court en banc entered a per curiam Opinion and Order sustaining the preliminary objections as to the request to open all of the remaining boxes throughout the county, but because of certain "special circumstances"*fn3 did consider the request pertaining

[ 464 Pa. Page 156]

    to the 28 boxes. On August 1, 1975, appellant filed a second petition requesting that all of the remaining ballot boxes be opened. This petition was denied by an Order entered on August 4, 1975. It is purportedly the Order of August 4, 1975, from which appellant has filed this appeal (September 3, 1975).

The basis for the Motion to Quash is that a Final Order on the request to open all remaining boxes was entered by the court en banc on July 10, 1975, and therefore the instant appeal was, in fact, filed 55 days after that Order had been entered. Thus, the pivotal question in this dispute is when did the court enter a Final Order denying appellant's request that the remaining ballot boxes within the county be reopened and recounted.

The Pennsylvania Election Code, Act of June 3, 1937, P.L. 1333, art. I, § 101 et seq., as amended, 25 P.S. § 2601 et seq., reflects a clear intention of the Legislature to expeditiously dispose of objections and to provide for prompt certification of the vote. The integrity of the election process requires immediate resolution of disputes that prevent ...


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