Pennsylvanians rush to fix mail-in ballots after ruling

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Some of Pennsylvania’s largest counties were among those working Monday to help voters repair mail-in ballots that have fatal flaws such as incorrect dates or missing signatures on envelopes used to cast ballots. sending them.

Election officials in Philadelphia and Allegheny, which includes Pittsburgh, announced the measures they are taking in response to orders from the BiH Supreme Court in recent days stating that mail-in ballots may not be counted if the outer envelopes lack the correct handwritten dates.

The State Department said it was unclear how many ballots were involved across the state. On Sunday, the agency asked the counties to submit the numbers, broken down by political party. Officials said some counties do not allow voters to correct their mistakes.

Ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections, more than a million mail-in and absentee ballots have already been returned in Pennsylvania, with Democrats far more likely to vote by mail than Republicans. The numbers are large enough that they could matter in a close race, such as the contest between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz that could determine majority control of the US Senate.

The Pennsylvania lawsuit was brought by Republican groups and is one of a multi-state legal effort by both parties to have courts resolve disputes over voting rules and procedures ahead of midterm elections.

In Wisconsin, the Republican chairman of the state’s Assembly election committee, along with a veterans group and other voters, filed a lawsuit Friday seeking a court order requiring the embattled state’s military absentee ballots to be taken away. The lawsuit seeks a temporary injunction requiring Wisconsin election officials to set aside military ballots to verify their authenticity. The court did not take any action until Monday morning.

A lawsuit is underway in Cochise County, Arizona, challenging Republicans’ push to manually count all ballots.

Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of State Leigh Chapman on Monday urged mail-in voters who think they may have made technical errors to contact their county election offices. If the county won’t let them fix the problem, they should go to their local polling place on Tuesday and ask for a provisional ballot, she said.

In Allentown, Lehigh County officials reached out to all voters they could locate whose ballots had problems, Elections Director Tim Benyo said Monday. He said there were several hundred ballots involved.

“People were very interested in healing their ballots,” Benjo said. “We’ve been busy.”

Allegheny County election officials released online the names and birth years of voters who mailed ballots in envelopes that were either undated or dated outside the allowed range of Sept. 19-Nov. 8 for ballots and Aug. 30-Nov. 8 for absentee ballots. Those voters can fix their ballots in person at the elections office on Monday or Tuesday or provisionally vote at their regular polling places.

Allegheny reported that more than 600 incorrect and nearly 400 undated ballots had arrived for the count since Sunday. Philadelphia said it received about 2,000 undated ballots and several hundred more that appeared to be dated incorrectly.

Philadelphia Deputy Commissioner Nick Custodio said last week’s court ruling and the tide of ballots rolling in ahead of Election Day made it difficult to issue direct notifications.

“So far we’ve only been able to put the list on our website, but we’re exploring all other options that are available given the short window of time,” Custodio said.

Dozens of voters looking to get their ballots fixed showed up at City Hall over the weekend, and Custodio said city offices were more busy Monday. Volunteers from several groups contact those voters to see if they need help getting to the election office.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that mail-in votes don’t count if they are “contained in undated or incorrectly dated outer envelopes,” then followed up with a follow-up order Saturday that specified the allowable range of mail-in dates and ballots in absence.

Ballots without properly dated envelopes have been the subject of litigation since voting by mail in Pennsylvania was greatly expanded under a state law passed in 2019.

Ballots must be received by 8 a.m. Tuesday, so at this point officials are urging people who haven’t done so to drop them off at election offices or hand-deliver boxes.

___ AP reporters Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., and Claudia Lauer in Philadelphia contributed.


Learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections. And follow AP coverage of the 2022 elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections.

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