Petition to Open Ballot Boxes In Pennsylvania

In In re Contest of 2003 Gen. Election for the Office of Prothonotary of Washington County, Pennsylvania (Appeal of Matheny), 578 Pa. 3, 849 A.2d 230 (2004), the electors filed a petition to open ballot boxes. Section 1701, like Section 1702 in this case, provides that the petition must be "duly verified", but does not define this term. The Court held that the petitions were "duly verified" even though they were not signed in the presence of a notary because they were verified by a statement referring to the unsworn falsification to authorities. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed and stated that: Based on this case law as well as the definition for verification in the Statutory Construction Act, we hold that the electors who signed Fisher's nine Petitions to Open were required to verify them by means of an oath or affirmation before a notary or other public official. Furthermore, as this Court has made clear that an improper verification is "a jurisdictional defect that cannot be cured," ...Matheny, 578 Pa. at 19, 849 A.2d at 240/