WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, Nov. 7, a Pennsylvania court denied the Monroe County Republican Committee, its vice chairman and two voters’ request to temporarily block the Monroe County Board of Elections and its two commissioners from being able to pre-canvass mail-in ballots during the midterm elections. Pre-canvassing is the process by which Pennsylvania election officials prepare for counting ballots by segregating ballots that were challenged, have a missing or incorrect date, are lacking a secrecy envelope and were cast by a voter who passed away before Election Day. The plaintiffs asked the court to find that the Monroe County Board of Elections’ actions are “illegal, improper, and a violation of Pennsylvania’s Election Code” and block the defendants “from continuing their illegal removal of absentee and mail-in ballots from their locked and/or sealed containers prior to 7:00 a.m. on Election Day.” Such a request would have effectively made it impossible for Monroe County voters to cure their mail-in ballots — the process by which voters may fix small and technical errors with their mail-in ballots. Today, a judge denied the Republicans’ request to temporarily upend cure processes in Monroe County, Pennsylvania. Notably, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently affirmed a lower court’s decision allowing counties to develop and implement cure procedures.
In denying the Republicans’ request, the judge wrote:“I do not find that the [Monroe County Republican Committee] has a clear right to relief in view of the recent [court decisions], and I find that at this point after 150 to 175 voters have been advised that their ballot has been cancelled and that they have an opportunity to file a correct one, it would adversely affect the public interest to grant the injunction.” Additionally, the judge found that it “has always been [the county’s policy to allow voters who are concerned that they incorrectly completed their mail-in or absentee ballot to come to the [Monroe County Office of Elections and Voter Registration] office, cancel the first ballot and submit a corrected one to replace it if that was done before 8:00 p.m. on Election Day” and that “refusing the injunction would return the parties most closely to the status quo.” Today’s decision is a victory for Monroe County voters who will be able to fix small mistakes with their mail-in ballots and stands as a rebuke to another Republican attempt to upend the mail-in voting process in Pennsylvania during the eleventh hour.