Court Rules in Pennsylvania Voting Case

Court Rules in Pennsylvania Voting Case

( – A US Appeals Court has denied a challenge to Pennsylvania rules surrounding mail-in voting. The Keystone State allows ballots to be discarded if they are filled out incorrectly, such as those completed without a date or with the wrong date. Voting rights groups expressed disappointment with the ruling, saying it could significantly impact this year’s Presidential election, potentially disenfranchising thousands of electors.

The Pennsylvania State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other advocacy groups filed a lawsuit in 2022, arguing that the Pennsylvania rules violated the “materiality provision” of the Civil Rights Act 1964. This provision prohibits denying a person the right to vote because of a paperwork error. In his ruling, however, US Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro said the provision only applies in determining who can vote, not how.

ACLU of Pennsylvania was among the plaintiffs and said it will now analyze the ruling and decide whether it will seek to advance it to the US Supreme Court. The Pennsylvania Department of State, the defendant in the case, noted that it has already made changes that it hopes will reduce the number of discarded ballots in this year’s election, particularly given that any potential Supreme Court decision would likely come after November.

Last November, Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt announced newly designed envelopes and mail-in papers, which would be distributed with easy-to-follow instructions aimed at preventing voter error and “decreasing confusion.” Schmidt noted thousands of uncounted ballots in previous elections caused by simple and “unintended” oversights. He said Governor Shapiro is “committed to giving every eligible Pennsylvanian the opportunity to cast their vote and make their voice heard.”

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