Pennsylvania Court Rejects County GOP’s Request To Exclude Mail-in Ballots

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ahead of Pennsylvania’s primary today, a court ruled that ballots from long-term care facilities returned by a single person will be counted in Chester County, Pennsylvania. This decision comes after the county GOP challenged several election policies in the leadup to the 2024 primary. 

This ruling comes after a hearing on April 22 in a lawsuit brought by the Republican Committee of Chester County and four of its members against the Chester County Board of Elections challenging the board’s policies. The Republican plaintiffs argued that the board of elections unlawfully: 

  • Refused to allow Republican candidates to serve as poll watchers and poll workers,
  • Made policy decisions without fair notice to the public and 
  • Allowed third party individuals to return ballots on behalf of residents of long-term care facilities. 

In today’s ruling, the court declined to block the county from counting ballots returned by a third party from long-term care facilities, finding that the decision would have disenfranchised voters. 

Mail-in ballots from nursing homes and long-term care facilities appear to be the latest Republican target in the leadup to the 2024 elections. The county GOP plaintiffs argued that allowing individuals to return ballots on behalf of voters in nursing homes or long-term care facilities violated a directive from the Pennsylvania Department of State requiring voters to use one person from their household to return ballots on their behalf. 

Elderly voters rely on robust mail-in voting programs. In a separate lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s strict date requirement for mail-in ballot envelopes, the SeniorLAW Center and the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of Elders submitted a “friend of the court” brief highlighting how older Pennsylvanians are more reliant and mail-in voting. “Older Pennsylvanians are especially reliant on the mail-in ballot option to exercise their right to vote,” the brief reads. 

This lawsuit came as Republicans are increasing their attacks on elderly and disabled voters who vote by mail. Just last week, Wisconsin U.S. Senate Candidate Eric Hovde (R) said “Well, if you’re in a nursing home, you only have five, six months life expectancy. Almost nobody in a nursing home is at a point to vote.” Republicans have also passed laws limiting ballot assistance that are currently being challenged in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio

Read the opinion here.

Learn more about the case here.