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MATTER NOMINATION PAPER KEVIN E. COOPER (09/24/84)

decided: September 24, 1984.

IN THE MATTER OF: THE NOMINATION PAPER OF KEVIN E. COOPER, INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE FOR THE OFFICE OF REPRESENTATIVE IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY FROM THE 24TH LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY. JOSEPH PRESTON, JR., PETITIONER


Original Jurisdiction in the case of In the matter of: The Nomination Paper of Kevin E. Cooper, Independent Candidate for the Office of Representative in the General Assembly from the 24th Legislative District of Allegheny County -- Joseph Preston, Jr., Petitioner.

COUNSEL

John J. Connelly, Jr., Connelly, Martsolf & Reid, for petitioner.

Clifford C. Cooper, for respondent.

David F. Phifer, General Counsel, for Department of State.

Judge Palladino. Opinion by Judge Palladino.

Author: Palladino

[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 134]

This matter comes before this Court under the provisions of the Pennsylvania Election Code*fn1 (Code) and was instituted by Joseph Preston, Jr., (Petitioner), through the filing of a Petition to Set Aside Nomination Paper of Kevin E. Cooper (Respondent) as Independent candidate for the Office of Representative of the 24th Legislative District of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Petitioner alleges in his petition that Respondent has failed to obtain the requisite number of valid signatures for the nomination.

Respondent's nomination paper, which was filed on April 18, 1984, initially contained 558 signatures. The

[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 135]

Bureau of Elections struck 156 signatures for various reasons when the nomination paper was filed, leaving a total of 402 signatures. Petitioner filed his petition to set aside Respondent's nomination paper on August 8, 1984. In his petition Petitioner challenges 301 of the remaining signatures as invalid for various reasons which, inter alia, include: the signators are not registered to vote in the 24th Legislative District; the signators reside outside the boundaries of the 24th Legislative District; and the signatures were signed by the same individual and/or do not match the signatures on the corresponding county registration cards.

At the hearing, Petitioner presented the testimony of the Deputy Director of the County of Allegheny Department of Elections who testified in great detail concerning whether a number of the signators were registered to vote in and/or resided in the 24th Legislative District. Petitioner also presented the testimony of a handwriting expert whose qualifications were agreed to by Respondent. Both Petitioner and Respondent also testified at the hearing. After hearing and a review of the evidence presented, the following findings of fact are made:

1. The Petitioner was told by the State Bureau of Elections that because of pending litigation, the time for filing nomination petitions and papers was extended from April 23, 1984 to August 1, 1984.

2. That Petitioner relied on this information and waited until August 8, 1984, to file his objections to Respondent's nomination paper.

3. That with respect to the signatures affixed to nominating document number one:

     a) sixteen of the signatures represent persons who are not registered to vote in the 24th Legislative District; and

[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 136]

    b) forty-seven of the signatures were either signed by the same individual and/or do not match the signatures on the county registration cards.*fn2

4. That with respect to the signatures affixed to nominating document number two:

     a) eleven of the signatures represent persons who are not registered to vote in the 24th Legislative District;

     b) nine of the signatures represent persons who reside outside the boundaries of the 24th Legislative District; and

     c) seven of the signatures were signed by the same individual.

5. With respect to the signatures affixed to nominating document number three:

     a) two of the signatures were signed by other individuals.

6. With respect to the signatures affixed to nominating document number five:

     a) four of the signatures represent persons who reside outside the boundaries of the 24th Legislative District; and

     b) one of the signatures was signed by another individual.

7. With respect to the signatures affixed to nominating document number six:

     a) one of the signatures represents a person who is not registered to vote in ...


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