Democrats Seek To Defend Mail-in Voting from GOP Attack in Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, Oct. 19, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Pennsylvania Democratic Party (PDP) filed a motion to intervene in a Republican-sponsored lawsuit to prevent the counting of wrongly dated mail-in ballots (ballots that are timely cast and valid but have an incorrect date on their outer return envelopes) and undated mail-in ballots (ballots that are timely cast and valid but missing a date on their outer return envelopes) in Pennsylvania. Today, the Democratic groups filed a motion to intervene to “protect access to the franchise and ensure free and equal elections, particularly for Democratic voters—who in the 2020 elections were disproportionately more likely to cast ballots by mail than Republicans—and the candidates they support.” 

In their motion to intervene, the DSCC, DCCC, DNC and PDP note that this Republican challenge to disenfranchise voters for a small and technical error — launched after voters have already begun voting by mail in Pennsylvania — “is just the latest chapter in the relentless attack on mail voting.” The Democratic groups argue that “Democratic voters risk disenfranchisement in November’s [midterm elections] if Petitioners’ challenge succeeds.” In response to the Republicans’ petition, the Democratic groups write that voting for the midterm elections has “been underway for weeks” and suggest that this lawsuit is a  “last-minute attempt to disrupt and inject chaos into an active electoral process.” Democrats are once again stepping up to defend mail-in voting in the commonwealth and ensure voters are not disenfranchised for small, technical errors. 

Republicans launched this attack on mail-in voting just days after the U.S. Supreme Court vacated (meaning voided) a decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that required Pennsylvania to count mail-in ballots that were previously rejected for lacking handwritten dates next to voters’ declaration signatures on the outer ballot envelopes. The Pennsylvania Department of State immediately clarified that the Supreme Court’s order does not change the policy that undated mail-in ballots must be counted. In the guidance, the secretary noted that the “order from the U.S. Supreme Court…does not affect the prior decision of [the] Commonwealth Court in any way. It provides no justification for counties to exclude ballots based on a minor omission, and we expect that counties will continue to comply with their obligation to count all legal votes.”  

This is not the only Republican attack on mail-in voting in Pennsylvania. Republicans are also suing to strike down Act 77 (a 2019 law that largely expanded mail-in voting), to limit the use of drop boxes in the commonwealth and to end mail-in ballot curing (the process by which a voter may be notified of a technical mistake with their mail-in ballot and attempt to rectify that mistake). According to the Associated Press, as of Friday, Oct. 14, Democrats outnumber Republicans applying for mail-in ballot applications in Pennsylvania “by an almost 4-to-1 ratio.” 

Read the motion to intervene here.

Learn more about the case here.