Original Jurisdiction in the case of In Re: Nomination Petitions of Eugene J. Duncan, Candidate for election to the United States House of Representatives -- Petition of David A. Huber.
Fred Speaker, with him, Thomas B. Schmidt, III and Larry L. Miller, Pepper, Hamilton & Scheetz, for Petitioner.
R. Thomas Forr, Jr., Sullivan, Forr & Stokan, for respondent.
Judge Craig. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 100]
With respect to the nomination petitions of Eugene J. Duncan, candidate for nomination on the Democratic ballot to run for election to the United States House of Representatives for the 9th Congressional District, Blair County, objector David A. Huber has filed a petition for review and objections asking that we order the setting aside of all the nominating petitions, consisting of ten sheets, bearing on their face approximately 404 signatures, with 200 valid signatures being required for Congressional nomination.
From the evidence at a hearing ably conducted by counsel for both objector and candidate, the major thrust of the objections centered upon the established
[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 101]
fact that the notarization of all ten of the circulators' affidavits, although appearing to be regular on their face, was defective in that, as established by the testimony of the one notary public involved, as well as by the testimony of the candidate, the notary public did not administer an oath to any of the circulators but, the circulators being known to her, accepted the petitions already bearing the circulators' signatures, and thereupon affixed her jurat without the circulators being present. The notary public testified that she had, on an earlier date, happened to witness several of the circulators affixing their signatures as such.
The objector's case also established that the candidate himself, from his political and career experience, is a person familiar with how the formal requisites of affidavits should be satisfied.
The candidate presented and, by testimony and stipulation, supported amended affidavits for all of the ten nomination petition sheets or pages, there being less than ten circulators involved altogether.
With that factual background, the pivotal issue, of course, is whether this court should exercise its discretion to allow the amended affidavits, to cure the defective ones, under Section 977 of the Election Code, the Act of June 3, 1937, P.L. 1333, as amended, 25 P.S. § 2937, which accords discretion to the court to accept amendments to nomination petitions with respect to "material errors or defects apparent on the face" of the petitions.
Ross Nomination Petition, 411 Pa. 45, 190 A.2d 719 (1963) stands squarely for the proposition that amended affidavits may be accepted when the original ones have been notarized without the circulator(s) ...