A lawsuit was filed by Pennsylvania Democratic lieutenant governor John Fetterman’s U.S. Senate campaign a day before the election, against state election officials, arguing that mail ballots with an incorrect or blank date should be counted. A federal judge was asked by Plaintiffs to, regardless of the date voters pen on the envelope, order all mail ballots to be counted.
This lawsuit is coming a week after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that officials should set aside and not count mail ballots with an incorrect or empty date. The lawsuit reads: ”The date [requirement] imposes unnecessary hurdles that eligible Pennsylvanians must clear to exercise their most fundamental right, resulting in otherwise valid votes being arbitrarily rejected without any reciprocal benefit to the Commonwealth.”
The date instruction has no relevance to determining whether an individual is qualified to vote under Pennsylvania law, Plaintiffs argue in the case, as long as voters cast ballots by the date of the election and meet the standard U.S. voter requirements.
Election officials are rejecting “qualified voters who accidentally failed to write the date on their ballot envelope, and more still will be rejected when voters enter an incorrect date, such as their birthdate, instead of the date they completed or signed their ballot,” the lawsuit alleges.
In the battleground state for the congressional seat, Fetterman and his Republican opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz have been campaigning neck-to-neck.
Philadelphia voters have Oz up by two points in a race where every vote counts to determine the winner. according to three separate polls from the Trafalgar Group, Big Data Poll, and InsiderAdvantage/FOX 29. But Democrats could likely lose tens of thousands of votes that would be thrown out without the support from state law to count mail ballots marked an incorrect or blank date.
UPDATE: Fetterman won
Democrats disproportionately use mail ballots over Republicans, but it is still not clear how many ballots will be affected by the Supreme Court ruling. Registered Democrats have returned 70% of approximately 14,000 mail-in and absentee ballots in Monroe County, Democracy Docket reports. This is nearly four times the percentage ballots returned by Republican voters.
Democrats argue, according to the lawsuit, that rejecting ballots without a correct date violates the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. “A state cannot utilize election practices that unduly burden the right to vote,” says the Amendment.
Filing a separate lawsuit in a Pittsburgh federal court, voting rights groups have joined together, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, following the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, arguing that county officials should not be allowed to toss out such ballots under the Materiality Provision of the Civil Rights Act, which has secured victories in similar cases.
A hearing for the lawsuit is still not set by Federal court officials.