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Pennsylvania Circulator Residency Victory

On February 8, the Pennsylvania elections office announced that it has re-designed the petition form for candidates seeking to get on a primary ballot. The new form no longer says that the circulator lives in the particular district or jurisdiction in which the candidate is running. Although both primary and general election petitions in Pennsylvania can only be circulated by residents of Pennsylvania, at least circulators can now live anywhere in Pennsylvania, whether they are circulating primary petitions or general election petitions.

This liberalization had already been made some years ago for general election petitions. It was odd that Pennsylvania had continued to enforce the in-district residency requirement for circulators for primary petitions, but not general election petitions.

The form was changed in response to a federal lawsuit filed on November 1, 2013, Villa v Aichele, eastern district, 13-6374. The lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed after the state agreed not to enforce the residency requirement.

As recently as 2010, the only Republican running for U.S. House in Pennsylvania’s First District had been kept off the primary ballot because some of her petitioners had not lived in the First District.

2 Responses

  1. Opinions about whether it is unconstitutional to require circulators to live in state? I seem to recall the cases have been mixed on this point. I ask this as someone who has petitioned in PA while living elsewhere.

  2. Richard Winger

    The overwhelming number of courts which have ruled on out-of-state circulator bans have ruled against those laws. The 8th circuit is the only one that upheld them, and the decision is considered so unpersuasive that last year, a US District Court in Nebraska threw out Nebraska’s ban, even though Nebraska is in the 8th circuit.

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