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§ 3261. Opening ballot boxes upon petition of electors alleging fraud or error; deposit or bond

Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes and Consolidated StatutesTitle 25 P.S. Elections & Electoral DistrictsEffective: October 8, 2004

Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes and Consolidated Statutes
Title 25 P.S. Elections & Electoral Districts (Refs & Annos)
Chapter 14. Election Code (Refs & Annos)
Article XVII. Recounts and Contests (Refs & Annos)
(a) Recounts
Effective: October 8, 2004
25 P.S. § 3261
§ 3261. Opening ballot boxes upon petition of electors alleging fraud or error; deposit or bond
(a) Except as set forth in subsection (a.1), the court of common pleas, or a judge thereof, of the county in which any election district is located in which ballots were used, shall open the ballot box of such election district used at any general, municipal, special or primary election held therein, and cause the entire vote thereof to be correctly counted by persons designated by such court or judge, if three qualified electors of the election district shall file, as hereinafter provided, a petition duly verified by them, alleging that upon information which they consider reliable they believe that fraud or error, although not manifest on the general return of votes made therefrom, was committed in the computation of the votes cast for all offices or for any particular office or offices in such election district, or in the marking of the ballots, or otherwise in connection with such ballots. It shall not be necessary for the petitioners to specify in their petition the particular act of fraud or error which they believe to have been committed, nor to offer evidence to substantiate the allegations of their petition.
(a.1) In cases resulting from a recount or recanvass order by the Secretary of the Commonwealth under section 1404(g),1 all of the following apply:
(1) Upon petition under clause (2), Commonwealth Court shall:
(i) open the ballot box of each election district in which ballots were used at a general, municipal, special or primary election; and
(ii) cause the entire vote of the election district to be correctly counted by persons designated by the court.
(2) To obtain relief under clause (1):
(i) Three (3) qualified electors of a county must file a verified petition alleging that, upon information which they consider reliable, they believe that fraud or error, although not manifest on the general return of votes, was committed:
(A) in the computation of votes cast;
(B) in the marking of the ballots; or
(C) otherwise in connection with the ballots.
(ii) It is not necessary for the petitioners to specify in their petition the particular act of fraud or error which they believe to have been committed nor to offer evidence to substantiate the allegations of their petition.
(b) Every petition for the opening of a ballot box under the provisions of this section shall be filed in the office of the prothonotary of the proper county, accompanied by a deposit of cash in the amount of fifty ($50.00) dollars, or by a bond signed by the petitioners as principals and by a corporate surety to be approved by the court, in the amount of one hundred ($100.00) dollars, conditioned upon the payment to the county treasurer for the use of the county of the sum of fifty ($50.00) dollars, in the event that, upon the opening of the ballot box, it shall not appear that fraud or substantial error was committed in the computation of the votes cast on the ballots contained therein, or fraud in the marking of the ballots contained therein, or otherwise in connection with such ballots.
(c) Before any ballot box is opened under the provisions of this section, the court shall direct that notice of time and place of proposed recount be given, either personally or by registered mail, to each candidate for the office or offices which are to be recounted by the order of the court, and each such candidate may be present at such recount, either in person or by his attorney or by his duly authorized representative, under such regulations as the court may prescribe.
(d) If, upon opening any such ballot box, it shall appear that fraud or substantial error was committed in the computation of the votes cast on the ballots contained therein, or fraud in the marking of the ballots contained therein, or otherwise in connection with such ballots, it shall be the duty of the court to certify such fact to the prothonotary and thereupon the prothonotary shall return to the petitioners the said sum of fifty ($50.00) dollars, or if the petitioners shall have filed a bond in lieu of cash, to mark said bond cancelled and notify the petitioners that he has done so.
(e) If, upon opening any ballot box under the provisions of this section, it shall not appear that fraud or substantial error was committed in the computation of the votes cast on the ballots contained therein, or fraud in the marking of the ballots contained therein, or otherwise in connection with such ballots, the persons upon whose petition such ballot box shall have been opened, shall forfeit to the county the sum of fifty ($50.00) dollars. If said petitioners shall have deposited the said sum in cash with the prothonotary at the time of filing the petition, the prothonotary, upon certification of the court that fraud or substantial error was not discovered, shall pay said sum deposited with him to the county treasurer; and if the petitioners shall have filed with their petition a bond in the sum of one hundred ($100.00) dollars, it shall be the duty of the county treasurer forthwith to collect from the principals or surety on said bond, the sum of fifty ($50.00) dollars, and costs of suit, and for this purpose, he is hereby authorized to institute any necessary legal proceedings. When so collected, the said sum of fifty ($50.00) dollars shall be paid over to the county treasurer.
(f) Ballot boxes may be opened under the provisions of this section at any time within four months after the date of the general, municipal, special or primary election at which the ballots therein shall have been cast.

Credits

1937, June 3, P.L. 1333, art. XVII, § 1701. Amended 2004, Oct. 8, P.L. 807, No. 97, § 11, imd. effective.
HISTORICAL AND STATUTORY NOTES
Act 1978-171 legislation
Section 1641 of Act 1937, June 3, P.L. 1333, No. 320, which was added by Act 1978, Oct. 4, P.L. 893, No. 171, relating to reports of political contributions by businesses receiving non-bid governmental contracts, and which was originally classified as 25 P.S. § 3261, was reclassified as 25 P.S. § 3260a.
Section 1642 of Act 1937, June 3, P.L. 1333, No. 320, which was added by Act 1978, Oct. 4, P.L. 893, No. 171, relating to enforcement of violations, and which was originally classified as 25 P.S. § 3261, was reclassified as 25 P.S. § 3260b.
Act 2004-97 legislation
Act 2004-97, § 11, at the beginning of subsec. (a), substituted “Except as set forth in subsection (a.), the” for “The”, and added subsec. (a.1).

Footnotes

25 P.S. § 3154(g).
25 P.S. § 3261, PA ST 25 P.S. § 3261
Current through 2019 Regular Session Act 1
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