Pennsylvania Poll Book Challenge
Elkin v. Philadelphia City Commissioners
Lawsuit sponsored by Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections — a right-wing legal group founded by Bill Barr, Karl Rove and others — on behalf of two voters against Philadelphia City election commissioners challenging Philadelphia’s alleged intent to “scale back or eliminate” their poll book reconciliation process (the process by which a poll book is amended to denote if a voter has already voted by mail). The plaintiffs allege that the defendants are printing the poll books before Election Day, which will result in them not reflecting “all returns of mail-in/absentee ballots.” The lawsuit argues that the defendants “intend to try to overcome this information deficiency in the poll books by printing supplements to the poll books to reflect updated mail-in/absentee elector information” and this process “invites double-votes by mail-in/absentee electors.” The plaintiffs base these allegations an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer and suggest that the defendants “have refused to publicly confirm that they will fulfill their legal obligation to conduct Poll Book Reconciliation.” The plaintiffs further allege that county officials are not “required to properly and fully train polling place personnel, since a lack of training generates unlawful double votes, which will, in turn, unlawfully dilute Plaintiffs’ votes.” The plaintiffs request that the court enter a judgment in their favor “declar[ing] that Defendants have a duty to properly and fully train polling place personnel on the only three voting outcomes permitted for mail-in/absentee electors” in order to comply with the Pennsylvania Constitution and state law. The plaintiffs request that the court “declare that Defendants have a duty under the Free and Equal Elections Clause to conduct Poll Book Reconciliation” and prevent the defendants from “scaling back or eliminating” poll book reconciliation.
On Nov. 7, the court denied the plaintiffs’ request to temporarily block the Philadelphia election commissioners from conducting their plans for managing poll books, which the plaintiffs appealed. During an emergency early morning meeting on Nov. 8, Philadelphia’s three-member election board voted 2-1 to reinstate poll book reconciliation even after the trial court rejected the request to force the commissioners to do so. On Nov. 8, the case was dismissed as moot because the Philadelphia commissioners voted to continue poll
book reconciliation for the 2022 midterm elections.
Case Documents (Trial court)
Case Documents (Commonwealth Court)