Third-party candidate may be off ballot in county race

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A word to the wise: When lending your support to a candidate running for office, write your name neatly.

Jim Barr, a Constitution Party candidate running for Allegheny County Council's District 1 seat, soon could be off the ballot following the successful court challenge of his nominating petitions.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph M. James ruled Wednesday that more than 50 of Mr. Barr's nominating signatures were invalid, either because the signers weren't registered to vote, didn't live at the proper address or scribbled their names too roughly.

Mr. Barr protested that Judge James was robbing folks of their right to vote, but the judge fired back, saying the candidate should have gotten more signatures to be on the safe side.

Mr. Barr needed 250 signatures to get on the ballot; he collected 289.

"The rule of thumb is, if you need 500 signatures, you get 1,000, in case that many of them are that bad," the judge said. "I didn't deny anyone the right to vote. You can read the Constitution to me all you want. I know it."

The challenge was filed under the names of several District 1 Republicans but was supported by Republican candidate Tom Baker, who attended the hearing.

Acknowledging that Mr. Barr's third-party status made it unlikely he would win, the Republican said he still felt it was important on principle to challenge the signatures.

"In looking at it, there were enough faulty signatures that it became obvious to me that he had not gotten 250," he said. "This was just keeping him accountable for him to that."

Mr. Barr has until Sept. 10 to bring contested signers into court to swear under oath they lent their support to his campaign.

region - electionsmunicipal

Andrew McGill: amcgill@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1497.


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