HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — Several groups in Pennsylvania, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, have filed suits in federal court seeking the counting of votes cast from mail-in ballots or mail-in ballots even when proper dates are not provided on their return envelopes.
The lawsuit, filed Friday night in western Pennsylvania by the state chapters of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause and other groups, follows a state Supreme Court ruling last week that barred officials from counting ballots who lack accurate, handwritten dates on their return envelopes as required by state law.
The groups said refusing to count such ballots “due to a trivial clerical error” could disenfranchise thousands of voters and violated provisions of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, which says immaterial errors or omissions should not be used to determine the prevent voting.
“Refusing to count votes because of intangible paper errors has an oppressive effect … by setting up another roadblock preventing them from voting and having their votes counted,” the lawsuit states.
The groups – which also included Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild, the Black Political Empowerment Project and Make the Road Pennsylvania – also said they needed to divert resources from voter mobilization and education to track down voters who missed the date have omitted return envelopes of their ballots.
They are asking the court to bar election officials from rejecting otherwise valid ballots with missing or incorrect data on the return envelope, and bar state and county governments from certifying elections that do not count such ballots.
The state Supreme Court had unanimously barred officials from counting such votes and ordered county election boards to “separate and store” those ballots, but the judges agreed 3-to-3 on whether state law’s requirement for envelope dates violated provisions of the Federal civil rights would violate law.
The Supreme Court on Saturday issued a supplemental order clarifying that the misdated ballot envelopes referred to in addition to undated ballots, postal ballot envelopes with dates outside the September 19-November 8 period and postal ballot envelopes dated outside of the Range meant August 30th to November 8th.
State and national Republican Party organizations requested an immediate Supreme Court review when it became clear that some county officials planned to discard undated ballots and others were expected to count them.
The status of ballots without properly dated envelopes has been repeatedly contested since Pennsylvania’s use of absentee voting was greatly expanded under a state law passed in 2019.
The 3rd US Circuit of Appeals ruled in May that the dates are not mandatory, but recently the US Supreme Court found that decision moot, leading to the current lawsuit.
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https://6abc.com/election-2022-pennsylvania-supreme-court-mail-in-ballots-voting/12421275/ Election 2022: Suit seeks to have mail-in votes lacking dates counted in Pennsylvania