NAACP Files Lawsuit Over Pennsylvania's Mail-In Ballot Count Mess

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 27: A man photographs himself depositing his ballot in an official ballot drop box while a long line of voters queue outside of Philadelphia City Hall at the satellite polling station on October 27, 2020, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With the election only a week away, this new form of in-person voting by using mail ballots has enabled tens of millions of voters to cast their ballots before the general election. Vying to recapture the Keystone State’s vital 20 electoral votes in order to bolster his reelection prospects, President Donald Trump held three rallies throughout Pennsylvania yesterday.
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 27: A man photographs himself depositing his ballot in an official ballot drop box while a long line of voters queue outside of Philadelphia City Hall at the satellite polling station on October 27, 2020, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With the election only a week away, this new form of in-person voting by using mail ballots has enabled tens of millions of voters to cast their ballots before the general election. Vying to recapture the Keystone State’s vital 20 electoral votes in order to bolster his reelection prospects, President Donald Trump held three rallies throughout Pennsylvania yesterday.

The NAACP and other voting rights advocacy groups like the ACLU have filed a lawsuit to make sure mail-in ballots received on time, but not property dated, are added to the counts, the New York Times reports. This could decide a very close Senate race between Democratic nominee John Fetterman and Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz.

In October, a coalition of Republican groups filed a lawsuit to keep undated ballots out of the overall voting count. Pennsylvania state law requires voters to write the date on the return envelope when sending it in. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court sided with the Republicans in the vote that they wouldn’t be counted. However, the court added additional instructions to the rule that ballots could be counted if they fell outside the range of specific handwritten dates.

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The NAACP’s lawsuit describes discarding the ballots over the dates as “a meaningless technicality” and a “trivial paperwork error.” They go on to state that the presence of the correct date on the outside of the envelope a ballot arrives in should not make the vote inside the ballot less valid.

ACLU’s Vic Walczak and the NAACP agree that this clearly violates federal civil rights law.

From CBS News:

“Voting should not be this hard,” Walczak said. “Whether you put the date on there or not...has no bearing on whether you are an eligible voter. You don’t get a ballot unless you’ve sent in an application and the County Elections Board has verified that you are eligible to vote.”

Just in Philadelphia alone, 3,400 mail-in ballots are at risk of being rejected because of incorrect information, missing dates, or missing secrecy envelopes, as CNN notes. More than 1,800 ballots flagged by Philadelphia authorities lack the required handwritten dates. Philadelphia’s turnout, along with the surrounding counties, was key in Biden’s win in 2020.

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