State of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Undated and Wrongly Dated Mail-in Ballots Challenge (PA NAACP)

Pennsylvania State Conference of the NAACP v. Chapman

Lawsuit filed by nonpartisan organizations against Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman (D) and all 67 county boards of elections challenging the state’s plan to not count undated mail-in ballots (ballots that are timely cast and valid but missing a date on their outer return envelopes) or wrongly dated mail-in ballots (ballots that are timely cast and valid but missing a date on their outer return envelopes). Following a Republican lawsuit, counties were ordered on Nov. 1 to reject undated and wrongly dated mail-in ballots in the midterm elections. The plaintiffs allege that, because the “date on which a voter signed their return envelope is also immaterial to determining the timeliness of the voter’s ballot” because “a ballot’s timeliness under Pennsylvania law is determined by when it was received and stamped by the county board of elections,” the rejection of these ballots for this immaterial reason violates the Materiality Provision of the Civil Rights Act. The plaintiffs request that the defendants be prevented from rejecting timely cast mail-in ballots with a missing or incorrect date. 

On Nov. 21, 2023, the court ruled that Pennsylvania’s practice of not counting valid mail-in ballots that are missing a handwritten date — or have the “incorrect” date — on the outer envelope violates the Civil Rights Act’s Materiality Provision.

Republican intervenors appealed the court’s decision to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On Dec. 13, 2023, the 3rd Circuit paused the district court’s decision pending appeal.

On March 27, 2024, a three judge panel on the 3rd Circuit issued an opinion reversing the district court’s opinion and remanding for further proceedings.

Case Documents (district court)

Case Documents (3rd Circuit)

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