decided: October 28, 1981.
IN RE: NOMINATION CERTIFICATE OF THE LUZERNE COUNTY DEMOCRATIC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE FILED SEPTEMBER 10, 1981, NOMINATING MICHAEL J. BUTERA AS WYOMING AREA SCHOOL DIRECTOR CANDIDATE. WALTER PLACEK, APPELLANT
Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County in the case of In Re: Nomination certificate of the Luzerne County Democratic Executive Committee filed September 10, 1981, nominating Michael J. Butera as Wyoming Area School Director Candidate, No. 3487-C of 1981.
James F. Geddes, Jr., Silverblatt & Townend, for appellant.
Michael I. Butera, for appellee.
President Judge Crumlish and Judges Williams, Jr. and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.
[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 278]
On September 10, 1981 Michael I. Butera was nominated by the Democratic Executive Committee of Luzerne County as that party's candidate for Wyoming Area School Director.*fn1 Appellant Walter Placek filed, on September 17, 1981 a petition to void and vacate Mr. Butera's nomination certificate. Following a hearing held before a panel of judges from the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, the petition was dismissed by order dated September 24, 1981.
The record reveals that both a Michael J. Butera and a Michael I. Butera resided as registered electors within the Wyoming Area School District. The name indicated on appellant's petition was Michael J. Butera, rather than Michael I. Butera. Michael I. Butera, however, was served with appellant's petition and appeared before the lower court in response thereto.
In his petition, appellant objected to the nomination certificate on the grounds that the same did not comply with Section 994 of the Pennsylvania Election
[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 279]
Code*fn2 in the following respects: a form prescribed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth was not utilized; the occupation of the candidate was not set forth; and no statement that a quorum of the Democratic Executive Committee had convened was contained therein. The court below dismissed the petition and denied the prayer for relief on the basis that, because the name indicated on the petition was Michael J. Butera, and because Michael J. Butera was not served, jurisdiction over the person of Michael J. Butera was lacking.
It is well-established in this Commonwealth that "[t]he Election Code must be liberally construed so as not to deprive an individual of his right to run for
[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 280]
office, or the voters of their right to elect a candidate of their choice." Ross Nomination Petition, 411 Pa. 45, 48, 190 A.2d 719, 720 (1963). See also, Hall Nomination Petition, 26 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 54, 362 A.2d 475 (1976). In view of this policy, it is clear that the lower court erroneously found in personam jurisdiction to be lacking. The defect in appellant's petition was so technical that the same should not have been dismissed on the basis that jurisdiction over the person of Michael J. Butera had not been obtained.
Nonetheless, upon consideration of the briefs and arguments of counsel, we find, in light of the policy favoring liberal construction of the Election Code, that appellant's objections to Michael I. Butera's nomination certificate are merely technical and devoid of merit. In this connection, we note that pursuant to Section 977 of the Code,*fn3 the defects appearing on the face of the nomination certificate could have been corrected by amendment.
For the reasons set forth above, we affirm the decision of the lower court.*fn4
[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 281]
And Now, this 28th day of October, 1981, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County dated September 24, 1981 is affirmed.