- Apr 9, 2020
PA Cities And Dem Volunteers Rush To Help Voters Replace Flawed BallotsWith help from left-wing organizations, the largest urban cities and counties in the battleground state of Pennsylvania are going all-out to help thousands of voters replace flawed ballots submitted via mail.
Pennsylvania law requires that voters "shall...fill out, date and sign the declaration" printed on the ballot's outer envelope. Republicans have been litigating to ensure that election officials follow the law and invalidate ballots with improperly prepared envelopes.
Depending on where you live, it seems any date will do just fine. "There has been evidence that at least some Pennsylvania counties have deemed any date to be acceptable, even dates in the future," according to the Associated Press.
Democrats have far more to lose: More than 1.1 million mail-in and absentee ballots have already been submitted, and roughly 70% of the ballots are from registered Democrats. The Department of State has not specifiedhow many ballots across the state are flawed, but it's believed to be at least 7,000 and counting -- in a state where victory margins could be razor-thin with Senate control at stake.
In 2020, Philadelphia alone had 8,300 undated ballots -- and counted every one of them after the state Supreme Court ruled they should be counted across the state in 2020 but never again. More litigation on the issue ensued.
In the wake of the Supreme Court order, some county governments started trying to notify voters who failed to properly follow the printed ballot instructions -- most notably and impactfully, Philadelphia County and Allegheny County, which is home to Pittsburgh.
The vote-repair effort is most intense in Philadelphia county, where the final 2020 tally gave Biden 81% of the vote. Over the weekend, city officials posted the names of more than 2,000 people who'd submitted invalid ballots, and encouraged them to go to City Hall to try voting again.
County-level 2020 presidential election results (via Politico)
The Democratic Party and other left-wing organizations then leapt into action. Shoshanna Israel, a member of the Working Families Party in Philadelphia, told the Washington Post that 250 volunteers signed up for a Monday-evening phone-bank session to contact errant voters.
Other volunteers gave pizza, snacks and bottled water to voters waiting in line at City Hall that reportedly had people waiting for upwards of two hours. One activist told the Post that, at 3:45pm Monday, city officials notified some would-be re-voters that they wouldn't make it to the office before it closed. Upset voters prompted the arrival of sheriff's deputies, but there were no reports of violence...yet -- Election Day could be more boisterous.
In Allegheny County, the AFL-CIO found that 147 of the failed votes belonged to its members. A phone bank had reached some 100 of them by 5 pm on election eve and was going to keep working into the night.
Not all counties are trying to alert voters. "We’ve never cured ballots in Lancaster County," county commissioner Joshua G. Parsons told the Post. "It’s a questionable procedure.”
Monday's "try-again" line at Philadelphia City Hall (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
The Monroe County Republican Party asked a court to block the ballot-correcting blitz, saying it was tantamount to an illegal "pre-canvas" of mail ballots, which are required to be kept secure until counting begins at 7am on Election Day. Monroe County, in eastern Pennsylvania, is considered a swing county.
The court refused to issue an injunction, saying the GOP "has not shown a strong likelihood of success at this very early stage of litigation," and that -- since many voters had already been notified of their errors -- "it would adversely affect the public interest to grant the injunction."
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, names on the list of flawed ballots include Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts, 2022 mayoral candidate Derek Green and high-profile defense attorney Charles Peruto, who was last year's GOP nominee for district attorney.
Penina Bernstein told the Washington Post that she'd be flying home to Pennsylvania from Colorado to replace her ballot: "I will be there to fix it tomorrow, because my voice will not be silenced by voter suppression.”