Pa. Republicans sue to block ballots; call for state election chief to resign

In this Feb. 7, 2019, file photo Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., listens during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. At least 10 lawmakers and three congressional caucuses have ties to organizations that received federal coronavirus aid, according to government data released this week. Among businesses that received money was a dealership owned by Kelly. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

In this Feb. 7, 2019, file photo Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., listens during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. At least 10 lawmakers and three congressional caucuses have ties to organizations that received federal coronavirus aid, according to government data released this week. Among businesses that received money was a dealership owned by Kelly. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

A Republican congressional candidate in Pennsylvania filed suit late Tuesday against state election officials, aiming to block the count of certain provisional ballots.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly and Republican Joseph Hamm, who is running for a seat in the State House of Representatives, joined several other plaintiffs in the latest of several GOP legal maneuvers to frustrate vote-counting in Pa.

The complaint, filed in a state appellate court, aims to prevent counties from tallying provisional votes cast by voters whose mail-in ballots were disqualified.

Pa. Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar issued guidance just days ago affirming that these votes ought to be counted through a process known as “curing.” In some cases, political campaigns notified voters whose mailed ballots had been rejected due to errors or improper filing so they could cast provisional votes instead.

But the GOP suit argues that the Democratic election chief’s guidance contravenes an earlier state Supreme Court ruling, citing as evidence that certain counties had independently refused to follow these guidelines. Shortly after the filing, Pa. State Senate leaders called on Boockvar to resign, citing this issue and her instructions to canvass mail ballots that arrive in the coming days.

The University of Pennsylvania-educated lawyer shot back at a press conference Tuesday night.

“We don’t think we broke the law,” she said. “There’s absolutely nothing in Pennsylvania law that prohibits that practice.”

Although it was not clear how many votes had been cured, Boockvar said she doubted that “overwhelming numbers” of voters would be affected by the 11th-hour lawsuit.

But with statewide election results trickling in both for the presidential race and hotly contested legislative seats, it was still not clear how close the final total would be — meaning every vote could be critical to determining a winner.

WHYY’s Laura Benshoff contributed reporting. 

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