WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, Sept. 1, multiple Republican organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the ability of Pennsylvania county boards of elections to develop and implement ballot curing procedures that allow voters to fix common and inadvertent ballot defects on mail-in ballots and ensure their votes are ultimately counted. After the Pennsylvania Legislature declined to adopt a statewide cure process, county boards adopted their own cure procedures that enabled voters to fill in missing information such as dates or signatures. In their complaint, the Republican plaintiffs — which include the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, Republican Party of Pennsylvania and voters — allege that, under the Pennsylvania Election Code, voters may only cure defective ballots for which voters’ proof of identification is lacking or unverified. The plaintiffs argue that county boards’ variation in their adoption of cure procedures that go beyond verifying a voter’s proof of identification renders an “unequal playing field” and a lack of uniformity, as well as creates “confusion and a lack of transparency in election administration.” They also invoke the radical independent state legislature (ISL) theory in support of their contention that county boards have “usurped the exclusive legislative authority of the General Assembly” through their development and implementation of cure procedures.
This lawsuit fits into a larger trend of Republicans attempting to invalidate mail-in voting throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For instance, during the 2020 election cycle, former President Donald Trump’s campaign appealed a decision that would have allowed 8,000 absentee ballots with small mistakes — such as missing handwritten names, street addresses, dates or some combination of the three on the outer return envelope of the ballot — to be counted. Pennsylvania is also notorious for rejecting “naked” ballots, or even refusing to certify ballots with missing dates. This most recent Republican lawsuit represents a continuation of the GOP’s crusade to prevent the counting of otherwise valid votes that contain trivial and easily correctable mistakes. The Republicans behind this lawsuit make this abundantly clear, noting that “cure procedures implemented by some Boards have had and will have the result of counting votes that should not have been counted.”