Legal battle erupts in Pennsylvania over mail-in ballots

On the eve of Election Day, a legal battle erupted in one of the most closely watched battleground states in the 2022 midterms.

Democrats sued Monday demanding that undated or incorrectly dated mail-in ballots are counted in Pennsylvania elections, which could end up determining which party controls the Senate.

The lawsuit, brought in part by the campaign of Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman, argues that a provision in state law requiring mail-in ballots to include the date on the outside of the envelopes violates the law. federal. The lawsuit names all 67 county electoral boards in the state as defendants.

The plaintiffs, which also include the campaign arms of House and Senate Democrats, insist that the date requirement is immaterial and that its application would violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The date on a mail-in ballot envelope “has no bearing on a voter’s qualifications and serves no purpose other than to erect barriers to qualified voters exercising their fundamental constitutional right to vote,” it said. they wrote in the 17-page folder.

Any order disqualifying ballots could end up affecting the outcome of the Pennsylvania election, which former President Donald Trump won in 2016 by less than 1 percentage point and President Joe Biden won in 2020 by just a little. more than 1 point.

“As we fight this latest Republican attack on the democratic rights of Americans, Pennsylvanians should check their voting status to make sure their vote is counted. We are committed to using every tool at our disposal to protect the constitutional right of Pennsylvanians to contest this election, including defeating the GOP in court,” said spokespersons for the Fetterman campaign and the Arms of the Nation. House and Senate Democratic campaign.

Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, filed a similar complaint Friday against state election officials.

“Defendants’ failure to count timely mail-in ballots solely on the basis of a missing or incorrect date on the return envelope will potentially disenfranchise thousands of voters,” the groups wrote in their file.

The fight erupted after the state high court with the Republican National Committee in ordering local election boards not to count the ballots in question. The justices, who wrote they were “equally divided” on whether a decision not to count those ballots violated federal lawalso told election commissions to “separate and retain all ballot papers contained in undated or incorrectly dated outer envelopes.”

The Supreme Court of the United States cleared the way in June for Pennsylvania election officials to count undated ballots. The judges ruled that undated ballots in a state race last year should be counted.

Pennsylvania is one of many battleground states where Republican officials and candidates have already filed a lawsuit to disqualify mail-in ballots in the 2022 election.

In Michigan, Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny rejected a Monday lawsuit of Kristina Karamo, the GOP nominee for secretary of state, against Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey alleging violations of election law regarding the counting of mail-in ballots.

In Wisconsin, a judge on Monday denied a request deposit by State Rep. Janel Brandtjen, a Republican who chairs the Wisconsin Assembly Elections Committee, and others asking the court to order mail-in military ballots sequestered after a Milwaukee election official was fired and accused of mailing Brandtjen absentee ballots that were fraudulently requested.

Lawrence Hurley contributed.

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