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Trump campaign sues Pa. over mail-in voting and other election issues

Processed mail-in ballots

Processed mail-in ballots are seen at the Chester County Voter Services office in West Chester, Pa., prior to the primary election, Thursday, May 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

This story originally appeared on PA Post.

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President Donald J. Trump’s re-election campaign is suing the Pennsylvania Department of State and the boards of elections in all 67 counties for allegedly taking “a path that jeopardizes election security,” disenfranchises voters and sets the stage for inaccurate vote counts in this fall’s general election.

The complaint, filed Monday in federal court in Pittsburgh, contends some counties broke state law by establishing unmonitored and unsecured ballot drop boxes for the June 2 primary, failed to implement processes to ensure ballots are mailed to correct addresses and securely delivered to voters, and imposes a residency requirement for poll watchers that is too strict. The suit also faults Gov. Tom Wolf’s last-minute order to extend the amount of time ballots could be received by elections offices in some, but not all, counties.

Lycoming County Election Director Forrest Lehman noted some questions raised by the Trump campaign’s suit overlap with claims made in other lawsuits already in progress. State legislators are also expected to deal with some of these issues as they consider election code changes based on counties’ experiences with the June 2 primary.

Voter registration updates, for example, are the focus of a separate federal lawsuit filed this spring by Judicial Watch against DoS and Allegheny and a handful of southeastern Pennsylvania counties.

“I hope everyone files their lawsuits now so that the courts have ample time to issue rulings for November,” Lehman said Monday. “Counties cannot have new laws or court rulings on these topics coming out in September or October, because ballots may already be in the mail by then and there will not be enough time to properly train poll workers on the changes.”

Other election directors declined or didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and DoS also did not immediately respond.

The Trump campaign’s lawsuit asks the federal court to bar counties from accepting absentee ballots unless they are mailed by voters to their county election office, or dropped off in person. It also wants to block the counting of any mail-in ballots that are not correctly placed inside the secrecy envelope sent to all voters. And the suit wants the residency requirement for poll watchers to be lifted, so that any Pennsylvania voter could serve in that function at any polling location in the state.

Four of nine Republicans in Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation – Glenn Thompson, Mike Kelly, John Joyce and Guy Reschenthaler – are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, as well as the Republican National Committee and two western Pennsylvanians active in GOP politics — Melanie Stringhill Patterson of Belle Vernon, and Clayton David Show of Hopwood.

» PA Post is an independent newsroom covering policy and government in Pennsylvania. For more, go to www.papost.org.


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