Fetterman’s Campaign Sues Pennsylvania Election Officials Demanding Undated Mail-In Ballots Be Counted
The campaign of Democratic senate candidate John Fetterman sued Pennsylvania election officials Monday demanding that undated or improperly dated mail-in ballots be counted in upcoming races in the state.
Major party fundraising arms, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, as well as two Pennsylvania Democratic voters who sent in undated ballots, are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit. They allege that a provision of a state law requiring mail-in ballots to include the date on the outside of mail-in ballot envelopes infringes on federal law. The state’s 67 county boards of election were named as defendants.
The legal action comes after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered election officials to disqualify mail-in and absentee ballots submitted with a missing written date, or an incorrect date, on the outside of the ballot envelope. The judges ruled based on the Pennsylvania Election Code, which instructs voters to “fill out, date and sign the declaration” provided on the envelope in which they place their ballot.
Since the court’s decision, thousands of mail-in ballots have been deemed invalid for a missing or incorrect date, the suing parties claimed. 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.”
In the legal filing, the plaintiffs insisted that the date instruction “has no relevance” to determining voter eligibility. If a marked date is needed to prove voter qualifications, they said, then it should be the date of the election rather than the date the voter submitted their ballot.
One of the voters involved in the lawsuit, Bette Eakin from Eerie County, has a medical condition that made her blind and unable to cast a ballot in-person, according to the suit.
In litigation battles following the 2020 election, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was asked to look at a Petition for Discretionary Review to determine whether the date instruction in the state’s election code should be read as directory or mandatory. A majority of justices ruled “mandatory” and that a ballot’s failure to comply with the stipulation means it should be excluded from tabulation.