On October 10 a state judge in Philadelphia ruled that four Libertarian Party candidates — including presidential candidate Gary Johnson — may remain on the ballot in Pennsylvania. This put an end to an attempt by the Keystone State’s Republican Party to block the country’s largest third party from keeping spots on the November ballot.
Prior to arriving at his decision, Commonwealth Court Senior Judge James Gardner Collins reviewed thousands of signatures one-by-one making sure that each was authentic and in conformity with applicable Pennsylvania election statutes. According to a report in a Pennsylvania newspaper, Judge Collins’ review of the signatures lasted more than seven weeks.
In his ruling, Judge Collins pointed out that attorneys representing both sides of the case eventually stipulated that the signatures collected by the Libertarian Party — at least 20,730 — were valid. Once that agreement was reached the decision was simple, as state law requires only 20,601 signatures in order to certify third-party candidates for inclusion on statewide ballots.
Despite the earlier acceptance by GOP lawyers of the validity of the voters’ signatures collected by the Libertarians, they subsequently filed a motion to throw out 124 of the signatures, nearly enough to keep the Libertarian Party candidates off the ballot.
Judge Collins denied the motion, ruling that it was filed too late. In dictum, he stated that even if the motion had been granted, the Libertarians would still have exceeded the threshold set by statute.
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Photo of Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson: AP Images