Current and would-be politicians will be downloading ballot petition forms starting Tuesday as they prepare to run in the May primary.
Candidates and their supporters can begin collecting signatures next week and then have a little less than a month to get the required number, which changes depending on the office being sought. At least six candidates have said they plan to run in the Democratic primary for governor.
“Candidates running for governor must collect 2,000 signatures of registered voters (in their party) in Pennsylvania, and that includes at least 100 signatures from each of 10 different counties throughout the state,” said Department of State spokesman Ron Ruman.
For lieutenant governor, the numbers slip to 1,000 signatures, including at least 100 from five counties.
In the past, petitions had to be picked up in person in Harrisburg or at county elections offices, but Ruman said now they are more often downloaded from the department’s website.
The candidates and their supporters can begin gathering signatures on the petitions February 18 and must have them back to the state by March 11.
“Any nominating petition can be challenged by any registered voter in the party of the candidate,” Ruman said. “And those challenges go directly to Commonwealth Court.”
The department is hoping to open the process to a little more sunlight.
“Once those petitions are filed they will be available on line from our website,” Ruman said. “In the past, folks would have had to come here to Harrisburg and pay a dollar a page to get copies of those petitions … this is going to make it a lot more open and transparent.”
Representatives in Congress will need to have at least 1,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot. The number dives to 500 for a state senate seat and 300 for a state representative race.