Here’s how candidates make it on Pennsylvania’s 2024 primary ballot

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By Sean Kitchen

January 24, 2024

Pennsylvania’s signature collection period to obtain access to the 2024 primary ballot is underway. Follow these steps to make it and remain on the ballot. 

Tuesday marked the beginning of the grueling three-week process where candidates and campaigns for any state or federal race have to brave Pennsylvania’s wintry weather and collect the required amount of signatures to obtain access to the 2024 primary ballot. 

“These are things that if you are serious and organized, you can do it,” Adam Bonin, a Philadelphia based election lawyer, said in an interview with The Keystone. 

“Some districts present challenges because they may be more rural in nature or that they don’t have the population, one population base in one party or the other that you would hope for, but it’s also going to be harder to win in those districts.”

Candidates running for the Pennsylvania House or Senate have to collect at least 300 or 500 signatures from registered members of your political party and those requirements become more strenuous as the office becomes larger. 

Congressional candidates are required to collect 1,000 signatures from the district, while those seeking the US Senate or President need 2,000 signatures from across the commonwealth. Candidates for the three statewide offices need to collect a total of 1,000 signatures from across the commonwealth with 100 signatures coming from 5 counties. 

The average state house district in Pennsylvania contains roughly 64,000 constituents, while a senate district contains roughly 260,000 residents, and according to Bonin, gathering the required signatures shouldn’t be that tall of an order. 

“To get 300 members of your party in the [house] and 500 in the [senate] is not that much of a burden,” Bonin said.

Though he cautions candidates to collect more than the required amount of signatures so they can survive a potential challenge to their petitions and remain on the ballot. 

“I think that it’s always important to get way more signatures than the legal requirement to give yourself a cushion against all of the things that can go wrong,” Bonin said. 

There are a number of mistakes that could lead to a signature being removed from the petition and if enough mistakes are made it could lead to a candidate being taken off the ballot.

The most common mistakes come from voters who aren’t eligible to sign the petition, meaning either they don’t live in the district or they’re registered to vote in a different district, they’re not registered with the appropriate party, or they already signed a petition for a different candidate in that race.  

There are also issues with disabled voters according to Bonin.  

“Another common mistake is that barring disability issues, you really do have to fill out all of the information yourself. You can’t have either the circulator or another member of your household fill in the address and date information for you.”

“I think circulators should do everything they can to support every voter in their right to get candidates on the ballot. I just can’t guarantee that a court will always agree with their efforts,” Bonin said. 


  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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