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SUNBURY — Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz is seeking an immediate injunction against the board of elections after his election petitions were denied because they were allegedly late.

Matulewicz, through his attorney, Charles A. Pascal Jr., of Leechburg, said he only learned the petitions were not accepted by the county elections office through media reports.

Matulewicz filed the injunction at 3:51 p.m. Tuesday and declined comment on the new filing.

According to the court document, Matulewicz said he arrived to the elections office prior to 5 p.m. which was the original time that Chief Registrar Lindsay Phillips stated the office was open until.

When Matulewicz arrived he said in the filing “some individuals were creating a distraction and some were objecting to his petition filing.”

On March 7, at the election’s office when he handed in his petitions, the time stamp said 5:01 p.m., according to county records. Phillips accepted the petitions while Matulewicz was signing the paperwork.

The office, which county officials said closes at 4:30 p.m., had three other county candidates inside at 4:45 p.m., including Sunbury attorney Mike O’Donnell who is running for district attorney.

Commissioner candidates Slade Shreck and Vinny Clausi, along with Repubican state Rep. candidate Joe Moralez were also in the office after 4:30 p.m. along with members of the public and media.

O’Donnell challenged Phillips and asked her why she was accepting the petitions, and Phillips said she made calls to state officials who said the office was open until 5 p.m.

Phillips then told O’Donnell that state officials called her back and said if the office was closed at 4:30 p.m. then that is the official rule.

O’Donnell declined a request for comment.

Phillips released a statement on March 8.

“The petitions were accepted as a courtesy pending review and a check with state code/statute,” Phillips said in a press release.

“After review and consultation with the Department of State, it was determined the filing deadline was 5 p.m. for state offices and the county deadline was 4:30 p.m. on March 7,” the release noted. “The petitions for District Attorney Tony Matulewicz will not be accepted because they were handed in after that time.”

Northumberland County Commissioner and Chairman Sam Schiccatano said the office closes at 4:30 p.m.

“The building was open, so evidently people were still coming in and once they started questioning what time petitions were to be collected, a call was made to the state,” Schiccatano said. “The state said they collected until 5 p.m. for state offices, but they were not 100-percent sure about counties. So we took Tony’s (Matulewicz) petition and stamped them until we were sure.”

Schiccatano said the office called state officials the following morning.

“We were told it was only to be accepted until 4:30 p.m. and we notified Tony immediately,” he said. “Because there was confusion, we wanted to make sure what we did was right, and that’s why we waited until we heard from the state. We only accepted his petition as a courtesy and we want to make sure elections are run in the right manner and nothing was done wrong in this case.”

In Tuesday’s filing, Matulewicz said he has never received any written notification from the board of elections on whether the petitions were rejected.

According to Election Code, if any nomination petition is found to be defective and rejected it would need to be returned to the candidate, the filing said.

“If in fact the board of elections has rejected the nomination petition of Matulewicz, it failed to adhere to the requirements of Election Code to advise him in writing of the reason or reasons for doing so,” according to Tuesday’s filing.

“Should the court not make an immediate decision on the underlying Mandamus action, the petitioner respectfully moves that this court issue a temporary injunction compelling his placement on the Republican Primary Election ballot,” the filing states.

“The need for immediate injunction relief is urgent because the interests of the petitioner would be irreparably harmed as would the interests of the voters of Northumberland County, who could be disenfranchised in voting for the candidate of their choice if injunctive relief is not granted.”

Schiccatano said on Tuesday that he still believes the elections office is correct.

“The elections office did everything right and we made the call to Harrisburg and they advised us what do,” he said. “Now let the courts decide it.”

No court date has been scheduled.

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