Pennsylvania Congressman Sues to Block Mail-In Ballot Fixes

Pennsylvania Congressman Sues Over State’s Mail-In Ballot ‘Cure’

A Republican congressman from Pennsylvania sued the state’s top election officials for allegedly allowing voters whose mail-in ballots were invalidly submitted to “cure” their error by using provisional ballots.

U.S. Representative Mike Kelly claims in the suit filed Tuesday evening that Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar improperly directed election staff on Nov. 2 to alert mail-in voters about ballots with errors that need to be fixed. Mail-in ballots aren’t supposed to be opened until Election Day.

Hundreds of thousands of allegedly defective ballots could be affected statewide, said Thomas Breth, one of the lawyers who filed the suit.

“The outcome of Pennsylvania could hang in the balance, and quite honestly everybody’s recognized that the next president of the country could be decided in Pennsylvania,” Breth said in an interview.

The suit, filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, seeks an injunction barring Boockvar from allowing voters with invalid mail-in ballots to fix the problems. Kelly cites legal precedent holding that identifying information on mail-in ballots can’t be revealed, which would prohibit such corrections.

Breth said the case is intended to press the same argument as in his federal court lawsuit filed earlier Tuesday against election officials in Montgomery County, where an estimated 5,000 ballots may be affected. The case was brought in state court because the U.S. Supreme Court has demonstrated its willingness to be deferential to state-court rulings, he said.

A lawyer for the state didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.