WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, Aug. 19, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ordered three Pennsylvania counties — Berks, Fayette and Lancaster — to certify totals for the May 2022 primary election including undated mail-in ballots. This decision comes after Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman (D) and the Pennsylvania Department of State (DOS) filed a lawsuit against the three counties for not including undated mail-in ballots — ballots received in a timely manner that are missing a handwritten date on their outer return envelope but are otherwise valid — in their primary certification totals. Notably, state and federal courts previously established that undated mail-in ballots must be counted. Today’s decision means that Berks, Lancaster and Fayette counties must include “all lawfully cast ballots” in their vote totals and certify these results to the secretary of the commonwealth by Aug. 24, 2022.
Noting that the “right to vote in a free and fair election is essential in a representative democracy,” the judge concluded in her order today that “the lack of a handwritten date on the declaration on the return envelope of a timely received absentee or mail-ballot does not support excluding those ballots from the Boards’ certified results under both Pennsylvania law” and the Materiality Provision of the Civil Rights Act. This decision comes almost three weeks after the Commonwealth Court held oral argument in the case on July 28 and over three months since the 2022 primary election.