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Court puts hold on Pennsylvania primary petition gathering

The period for candidates and their supporters to circulate petitions to qualify for Pennsylvania's May 17 primary election was put on temporary hold Wednesday by the state Supreme Court.

The justices issued an order that apparently applies to congressional and legislative races, as well as contests for U.S. Senate, governor and lieutenant governor.

The three-week petition gathering period was set to kick off Tuesday and last for three weeks. Instead, the high court noted it was hearing oral argument on Feb. 18 in a case that will determine the lines of congressional districts.

“I read this order as applying to all races on the primary ballot,” said Democratic elections lawyer Adam Bonin.

Philadelphia's elections officials also posted on Twitter that the ruling applies to all nomination petitions.

In the congressional redistricting case, a lower court judge on Monday recommended a new map of the state's 17 congressional districts and suggested alterations to the petition gathering period. The Supreme Court will have the final say, and could delay the primary election date.

Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough suggested that the court not change the primary date but delay the petition period by two weeks, to March 1, and compress it to two weeks so that it ends March 15. Pennsylvania has lost a U.S. congressional seat, so the current 18-district map can't be used this year.

In a separate process to redraw state House and Senate district boundaries, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission voted Friday for a new set of maps. In that matter, parties have until March 7 to take any challenges to the state Supreme Court. Those challenges would likely take a few weeks to resolve.

Copyright 2022 90.5 WESA

Mark Scolforo | Associated Press
Marc Levy | Associated Press