Residency Requirement Nixed for Circulators

Filed under: Pols on the Street |

It has to hurt for those would-be candidates who have found their nominating petitions for State Senate or State House petitions thrown out because of successful challenges to their petitions based on the fact they did not live in the district. Must be hundreds out there around the state.

Now that’s all ended! For those of you who have missed the news, the Supreme Court has nixed that provision. Your petitions can no longer be thrown out because the circulators were not from within the district. And would you believe, the Supreme Court vote was unanimous.

Chief Justice Ron Castille said the Supreme Court ruled because an earlier Commonwealth Court ruling and a federal ruling on the matter were contradictory and could interfere with a future election. The ruling was the answer to an appeal from Carl Stevenson who ran in the 134th Dist. in 2010. His petitions were challenged on the grounds many were collected by an independent candidate for Congress, who resided outside the district.

Ultimately, he was knocked off the ballot on a line-by-line challenge not related to the residency requirement. But he asked the Court to issue a ruling on the constitutionality of the requirement to avoid such confusion in the future.

Very briefly, the Court held the state interest in having the circulators reside in the district of the candidate and thereby having a direct interest was outweighed by the 1st Amendment right of the circulator for freedom of political expression. The Court followed a federal-court decision on this issue.

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