WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, March 23, a Pennsylvania court dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, Republican Party of Pennsylvania and voters against Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman (D) challenging the authority of the county boards of elections to develop and implement mail-in ballot cure procedures. Mail-in ballot curing is the process by which a voter may be notified of a technical mistake with their mail-in ballot and attempt to rectify that mistake. The Republicans who brought the lawsuit alleged that the Pennsylvania Election Code does not set a procedure for cure and the Legislature has not enacted “any law allowing for a cure procedure” and therefore county boards should not be allowed to implement any cure procedures. Today, a Pennsylvania court ruled that the case should be dismissed due to the court’s lack of “subject matter jurisdiction.” Put simply, this means that the court does not have the legal authority to address the claims that the Republican plaintiffs brought.
This Republican lawsuit was initially brought in September 2022, right before the 2022 midterm elections, as a means by Republicans to curtail the mail-in voting process in Pennsylvania. On Sept. 29, a Commonwealth Court judge denied the Republicans’ motion for a preliminary injunction that sought to block ballot curing for the 2022 midterm elections. The Republicans appealed this decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which affirmed the lower court’s ruling in a 3-3 order on Oct. 21. (If the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision is tied, the decision of the lower court is upheld.) This meant many Pennsylvania voters were able to cure minor errors on their mail-in ballots in the 2022 midterm elections. After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision, the case went back to the Commonwealth Court, which issued its final decision today.
In the order dismissing the lawsuit, the court held “because this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction [meaning legal authority to decide]…Petitioners’ claims against the 67 County Boards in the absence of the Acting Secretary and Director Mathis, the [preliminary objections] in this regard are sustained, and the Amended Petition is dismissed.” Today’s decision is a victory for Pennsylvania voters as the Republicans’ claims were dismissed and Pennsylvania counties will be permitted to carry out their current cure procedure policies.