Court Puts Hold on Pennsylvania Primary Petition Gathering | Pennsylvania News

By MARK SCOLFORO and MARC LEVY, Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The deadline for candidates and their supporters to distribute petitions to qualify for the May 17 Pennsylvania primary was temporarily suspended by the state Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The judges issued an order that applies to all races — congressional and legislative competitions, as well as US Senate, governor and lieutenant governor.

The three-week collection period for petitions should start on Tuesday and last three weeks. Instead, the Supreme Court noted that it was hearing oral arguments on Feb. 18 in a case that will determine congressional district lines.

Pennsylvania Courts Administrative Office spokeswoman Stacey Witalec said the order applies to all races and keeps the primary date intact. The order did not say when the court will create a new collection deadline for petitions.

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A spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said the court’s order is under review.

Candidates for office must collect a certain number of valid signatures from registered voters from the same party in order to vote in the general election. The number of signatures required depends on the office for which you are running.

In the case of the congressional re-election, a lower court judge on Monday recommended a new map of the state’s 17 congressional districts and suggested changes to the petition-collection period. The Supreme Court will have the final say and could move the date of the primary.

State Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny, said she would have to adjust to putting the petition distribution schedule on hold as she works to participate in voting for a Pittsburgh-area congressional seat.

“It’s not easy to get those signatures, it takes a lot of work,” Lee said. “So not having definitive answers is kind of a challenge, but not insurmountable.”

Lee said she already found out that the petition collection period probably wouldn’t start next week due to the pending litigation.

“The thing we’re most afraid of is getting some cards,” Lee said.

Charlie Gerow, who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination, said he wasn’t concerned about the delay.

“We’re ready to go whenever they give the green light,” Gerow said.

Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough suggested the court not change the primary date, but move the petition deadline two weeks to March 1 and shorten it to two weeks, ending on March 15. Pennsylvania has lost a seat in the US Congress, so the current 18-county map cannot be used this year.

In a separate process to redraw State House and Senate district boundaries, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission voted Friday for a new set of maps. In this matter, the parties have until March 7 to file a challenge in the state Supreme Court. These challenges would likely take a few weeks to resolve.

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