Republicans sue to block ballots cast by voters who were told that their mail-in votes were in danger of being disqualified

By: - November 3, 2020 10:03 pm

Republicans candidates in Pennsylvania asked a state court on Tuesday to block election officials from counting ballots cast by voters who were told that their mail-in votes were in danger of being disqualified. 

In a Commonwealth Court petition they brought with four Pennsylvania voters, Republican state House candidate Joseph Hamm and  U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, contend that Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar violated state election law when her agency told counties they could enlist campaign representatives in their efforts to notify voters of problems with their mail-in ballots. 

Mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania can be disqualified if they don’t have a voter signature, or if they aren’t enclosed in a secrecy envelope. The state faced federal lawsuits this year after counties disqualified ballots without giving voters the opportunity to remedy them. 

Boockvar’s deputy secretary told counties on Monday that if they found problems with mail-in ballots during pre-canvasing – the stage when ballots are prepared for counting – they could notify a political party to help “facilitate communication” with the voters so they could fix them. 

The email reminded county election directors that voters with problematic mail-in ballots could also vote by provisional ballot on Election Day.

The Republican plaintiffs say the instructions conflict with a provision in state election law, which bars election workers and campaign representatives from disclosing details about pre-canvassing before polls close on election night. 

It’s unclear how many ballots could be disqualified if a judge grants their request.

Boockvar declined to comment on the litigation at a media briefing Tuesday night, but said her agency “completely disputes” the claims Hamm and Kelly raised. 

“We don’t think we broke the law,” she said. 

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Elizabeth Hardison
Elizabeth Hardison

Elizabeth Hardison covered education policy, election administration, criminal justice and legislative news for the Capital-Star from Jan. 2019-April 2021. You can find her on Twitter @ElizHardison.