RNC Seeks to Defend Pennsylvania County’s Decision Not To Cure Naked Mail-in Ballots

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Republican National Committee (RNC) and Pennsylvania Republican Party (PA GOP) are stepping into a lawsuit to prevent the Butler County Board of Elections from curing ballots without a secrecy envelope, also known as “naked ballots.”

Since 2020, naked ballots have been a point of contention in the Keystone State with the rule standing to be the reason thousands of timely cast and otherwise valid votes are not counted. 

Last week, two voters in Butler County, Pennsylvania — north of Pittsburgh — filed a lawsuit challenging the Butler County Board of Elections’ decision to reject their provisional ballots after the voters submitted mail-in ballots without an inner secrecy envelope. 

Pennsylvania requires voters who vote by mail to place their ballots in an inner secrecy envelope before putting them in an outer envelope. Ballots submitted without an inner secrecy envelope are considered naked ballots and are subsequently invalid. Prior to Election Day, the plaintiffs submitted mail-in ballots without an inner secrecy envelope and the board of elections rejected them. 

In an effort to fix their ballots, both voters submitted provisional ballots on Election Day, but the board decided not to count them. The plaintiffs argue that the board of elections misinterpreted a Pennsylvania Supreme Court precedent and violated state election law by denying them the opportunity to cure or correct their mail in ballots. They argue that though the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has said naked ballots are invalid, it has never decided that voters cannot cure naked ballots.

The voters who filed the lawsuit ask the court to strike down the board of elections’ policy of refusing to let voters cure naked ballots and reverse the board’s decision to reject their ballots in the 2024 primary elections.

Now, state and national Republicans are stepping into a pivotal case in a key swing state. In their motion to intervene in the case, the RNC and PA GOP argue “there is no right under Pennsylvania law to cure mail-in ballots which lack a secrecy envelope.” In the press release announcing its intervention, the RNC claims to have “engaged in 84 cases this election cycle across 25 states,” but as Democracy Docket has reported the group has been inflating its legal involvement. According to Democracy Docket’s database, the RNC is currently involved in 30 active lawsuits. 

As we rapidly approach the 2024 presidential election, Pennsylvania seems to be the RNC’s latest target state as the Republican committee has ramped up its anti-voting efforts by filing lawsuits in other key swing states such as Arizona, Michigan and Nevada. While the committee has not yet filed any proactive litigation in Pennsylvania, it has also intervened in two other pro-voting lawsuits in the state that challenge the state’s strict date requirement. 

Read the motion to intervene here. 

Learn more about the case here. 

Learn more about naked ballots here.