The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

April 11, 2014

Judge will rule on validity of names on Marin’s petition

By Keith Gushard
Meadville Tribune

- — A Commonwealth Court judge is expected to rule within the next few days whether to invalidate some or all of more than 200 names and addresses on the nomination petitions of a Democratic Party candidate running for the 3rd District Congressional seat.

At issue is whether to strike some or all of 215 signatures, names and addresses out of 1,160 on the nomination petitions of Mel Marin of Sharon, who is one of two Democrats seeking the party’s nomination.

At a hearing Thursday in Pittsburgh before Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley, Marin admitted he filled in the address and or date portions for those 215 signees in question because they were too infirm to do it themselves. Pennsylvania’s election law requires the signature, as well as the printed name and address of the registered voter, be done by the registered voter.

Michelle Dresbold, a handwriting expert, testified she determined the handwriting and printing on 215 of the 1,160 signatures, names and addresses didn’t fully match, following a review of the petitions. Dresbold was called by attorney Charles Pascal, who represents Charles Rice, the head of the Democratic Party in Mercer County. On March 18, Rice filed an objection to Marin’s petitions with Commonwealth Court.

Rice was not at Thursday’s hearing, but voter services heads from Armstrong, Erie, Mercer and Lawrence counties were in attendance.

If at least 161 of 215 names and addresses being questioned are struck down by McGinley, it would remove Marin from the May 20 primary ballot, since Marin would then have fewer than the required minimum 1,000 valid signatures and addresses from registered voters within the district.

McGinley issued no ruling Thursday afternoon but said he would issue one as soon as possible.

Two years ago, Marin’s name was removed from the 2012 primary ballot for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the 3rd District after a Commonwealth Court judge ruled Marin didn’t have the minimum 1,000 valid signatures required for his petitions.

Marin and fellow Democrat Daniel C. LaVallee of Cranberry Township, Butler County, are vying for the nomination. The winner is expected to face off against incumbent Republican Mike Kelly of Butler in November.

Kelly is unopposed in his bid for the Republican Party’s nomination.

CNHI News Service