How to Challenge Petitions in State and Local Primaries

How to Challenge Petitions in State and Local Primaries

How to Challenge Petitions in State and Local Primaries
July 9, 2014

Today is the last day to gather petitions for state and local primaries, and that means it will soon be time for campaigns to try to find enough mistakes on petitions submitted by rivals to get them removed from the ballot. The three general kinds of challenges, according to election attorney Jerry Goldfeder, have to do with the people circulating petitions, those signing the petitions and the signatures themselves.

“Generally challengers will look to see that the people who circulate the petitions to get signatures, the so-called subscribing witnesses, are eligible to be subscribing witnesses, because if they’re not, a whole sheet will be invalid,” Goldfeder said. “Then challengers will look to make certain that the people who sign are registered to vote and enrolled in the party for which they are signing the sheets. And then whether they put in the complete information required, which is the date and the complete address and the county and the city and town involved.”

A person gathering petitions must be enrolled in the relevant party, although he or she only has to live in the state, and not necessarily in the district in which the primary is taking place. The only exceptions are for notaries public or commissioners of deed.

“Then, after all is said and done, the question remains if there are enough valid signatures of enrolled party members living in the district for which a candidate is circulating petitions,” Goldfeder said. 

Jon Lentz
is City & State’s editor-in-chief.
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