By Peter Jackson
HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Libertarian Party won an important round in a challenge of its nominating papers, boosting the chances that its ticket will stay on the Pennsylvania ballot.
A three-judge panel of the state Commonwealth Court ruled 2-1 on Thursday that signatures of about 9,000 voters are valid even though they listed addresses that do not match those in the statewide voter registry.
Challengers backed by the Republican Party argued in court this week that all those signatures should be disqualified, which could have knocked out Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who said Friday he plans to visit the state next week.
Analysts have said GOP officials are concerned that a Libertarian candidate would siphon votes from Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
“My clients are very happy,” said attorney Paul Rossi, who is representing the Libertarians. “I’m confident that we’re going to be on the ballot” in the Nov. 6 election.
Both sides said Friday they plan to jointly appeal to the state Supreme Court.
The challengers want the justices to overturn the mismatched-address ruling, while the Libertarians are appealing the panel’s 2-1 decision to disqualify nearly 1,500 voters who omitted the year from the date they signed the petition.