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Bouncing Ballots

March 9, 2007

Bob Brady could be bounced from the ballot due to his failure to list his city pension on the financial-interests statement he filed with his nominating petitions Tuesday, the Daily News reports.  

This week, a group of candidates up against City Council incumbents called on Democratic leaders to refrain from the sportof challenging nominating petitions on mere technicalities.  I have followed discussion to the same effect on my favorite blog, Young Philly Politics.

Bob Brady’s camp seems to disagree with the young progressives, saying challenging nominating petitions is a part of the political process.

Brady’s petition error adds an interesting twist to the discourse; I am interested to see what the community has to say about whether Brady’s petition should be challenged or not.   The emotional, anti-Fumocrat, down-with-machine-politics part of me is very excited that Mr. Brady may have gotten beat at his own game. 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. art kyriazis permalink
    March 13, 2007 2:11 pm

    re: challenging nominating petitions

    this is a matter which generally is ultimately adjudicated in Commonwealth Court, where I clerked for a year under now President Judge J. Colins at the outset of my legal training.

    There are a great many technicalities, but to make a long story short, it is generally difficult to knock a candidate off the ballot unless the statutory requirements of the petition are not clearly met by a preponderance of the evidence, and the burden is on the proponent or petitioner to make that factual showing.

    The evidentiary hearing may be below, but there is a scope of review on appeal to the Commonwealth Court as to legal error and clear errors of fact etc.

    Challenging nominating petitions are thus not part of the political process at all, but rather part of the legal and judicial process. Moroever, the judiciary has exclusive jurisdiction of these matters under the separation of powers doctrine, so they are not reviewable by the political bodies except as to statutory and regulatory provisions which can be changed from time to time.

    I don’t practice law any more, but this is an interesting subject for those of you who still do practice. Be aware that this is a legal and not a political matter.

    –art kyriazis, molecular biologist

  2. jocelyn g permalink
    March 13, 2007 9:16 pm

    Everything is Political

    I think the decision to challenge a nominating petition is a political matter as well as a legal matter.

    It is political in that a person makes a tactical decision whether to challenge a petition or not. For example, only one or two mayoral candidates have decided to challenge Brady’s petition: Tom Knox, and (it is rumored) Dwight Evans.

    It is legal in the sense that a petition can be challenged under particular circumstances set forth by law– i.e. challenges for deficiences such as inadequate number of signatures or incomplete financial disclosures–

    It is also, as you point out, the judiciary’s determination as to whether the challenge has merit.

    However, that does not in any way mean that the judge’s decision is not political. The judiciary is political. Judges are elected (or appointed, which does not remove politics at all). The judiciary’s decision to grant or deny a petition challenge is also political. Perhaps the incumbent with a petition deficiency helped that judge get elected–or the judge does not want to risk falling out of favor with the ones in power, or the judge secretly wants to be appointed to the federal bench……etc. So I beg to disagree with you.

  3. jocelyn g permalink
    March 13, 2007 10:25 pm

    Sorry, Milton Street was the second challenger to Brady’s petition, not Evans.

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