Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court entered March 27, 1986 at No. 719 C.D. 1986.
William Martin Sloane, Camp Hill, for appellant.
Michael Q. Davis, Jeannine Turgeon, Harrisburg, for appellee.
Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Larsen, J., notes his dissent, Zappala, J., files a dissenting opinion.
This appeal has been brought from an order of the Commonwealth Court refusing appellant's request to amend his "Petition to Set Aside Nomination Petition for Pete Wagner."
Appellant in this matter is Stephen Seventy, who is the incumbent Representative in the General Assembly for the 22nd Legislative District. Appellee is Pete Wagner, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Representative Seventy's seat.
The relevant facts of this case are as follows. On March 11, 1986, Mr. Wagner, acting pursuant to the Pennsylvania Election Code,*fn1 filed his nominating petition for the legislative seat currently held by appellant. This petition contained three hundred and fifty-two signatures. On March 18, 1986, which by statute was the last day upon which to file a challenge to the nominating petition, appellant filed a petition to set aside Wagner's petition. In it he challenged eighty-one signatures. As a result a hearing was scheduled for March 31, 1986. In the interim, on March 24, 1986, appellant filed a "Motion for Leave to File an Amended Petition," in which he sought to challenge an additional sixty-two signatures on appellee's nominating petition. On March 27, 1986, appellant's motion to amend was denied by the Honorable Madeline Palladino of the Commonwealth Court. From that order Representative Seventy brought this direct appeal.
This matter was argued before the Court on April 16, 1986. Because of the urgency of the matter we entered an order, prior to issuing an opinion, on April 24, 1986. That order affirmed the action of the Commonwealth Court.*fn2 This opinion is filed to enunciate the rationale for our action.
The Pennsylvania Election Code requires a candidate who seeks public office to file a nomination petition. Said petition must be "signed by duly registered and enrolled members of (the candidate's) party who are qualified electors of the State, or of the political district, as the case may be, within which the nomination is to be made or election is to be held." 25 P.S. § 2867. When the office sought is Representative in the General Assembly, the candidate is required to submit three hundred valid signatures. See 25 P.S. § 2872.1.
As noted above, the petition in this case contained three hundred and fifty-two signatures. Appellant initially challenged eighty-one of these signatures. After a hearing it was determined that thirty-one of the eighty-one challenged signatures were invalid. Obviously, it is appellant's contention that had the challenges to the additional sixty-two signatures been permitted, ...