The Lancaster County Board of Elections recommends that all write-in candidates provide cards to voters with the candidate’s name clearly printed on the card. It is also recommended that the candidate ask the voter to print the name on the ballot exactly as it appears on the information card. The use of self-inking stamps or stickers as a means of voting for a write-in candidate, while not prohibited by law, is discouraged because of the potential for damage to the voting machines.
Once the election is concluded, the Board of Elections must certify the results. For write-in candidates, PA Election Code 25 P.S. § 3155 requires that the board must compute and certify votes exactly as the names were written on the ballot. The results of the certification process will appear on the Lancaster County website and be posted in the Registration Office. Election results are required to be certified on November 25, 2019.
As indicated above, the Board of Elections must certify votes cast on ballots exactly as names are written on the ballot and may not group similar names together. For example, for a candidate having the name John C. Lancaster, votes cast for John C. Lancaster, J. Lancaster, J. C. Lancaster, and Jon Lancaster would all appear separately on the certification.
Campaign Finance Reporting
All write-in candidates must abide by the Campaign Finance Reporting Law. If a write-in candidate is in receipt of, or is spending, $250 or more for his/her campaign, the candidate must file Campaign Finance Statements and Reports in a timely manner. Please check with the Registrations and Elections Department, before you begin your campaign, for the proper forms, reports, and filing dates. Also, you should be aware that all advertising and signage must clearly state who is paying for that advertising and signage.
Under Section 1406 of the Election Code in Pennsylvania (25 P.S. §3156), a candidate may petition the Court of Common Pleas to cumulate votes with similar names in certain circumstances. This petition must be presented to the court at a time not later than five days after the certification by the Lancaster County Board of Elections of the votes cast at the primary election.
Petitions that do not meet the requirements of Section 1406 (25 P.S. §3156) of the election code may be filed under Section 1407 (25 P.S. §3157). These petitions must be presented to the court at a time not later than two days after the certification by the Lancaster County Board of Elections.
Petitions to cumulate are filed with the Prothonotary of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division pursuant to procedure and the timelines in PA Election Code 25 P.S. § 3156 or §3157. The Prothonotary currently charges a filing fee of $45.75 for filing the petition, and will also require a local, state, and Court Administration Office Scheduling (CAOS) cover sheet as well as a proposed scheduling order.
The preparation and filing of the petition is a legal process, for which legal representation is highly recommended. You or your attorney will need to draft the petition in accordance with the applicable state and local rules of civil procedure.
Service of appropriate parties and the board of elections is the responsibility of the petitioner (person filing the petition).
If the filing is properly prepared, and timely filed, the court will schedule a hearing. At the hearing the court will determine if the variations of the name are to be cumulated for the petitioner and may issue an order directing the board of elections to revise its returns accordingly.
Please be advised that the Lancaster County Board of Elections and the Voter Registration Office cannot provide legal advice concerning this petition process. If a candidate wishes to determine whether it is necessary or advisable to present a petition of this type, that candidate should seek legal advice concerning that process.