Lawsuit against Allegheny County Executive Innamorato over drop off ballot locations settled

PITTSBURGH — Channel 11 news has learned that a lawsuit over those satellite drop off ballot locations has been settled.  

According to Allegheny County Councilman and Board of Elections member Sam DeMarco, the county executive has agreed to present the proposal to the Board of Elections for a full vote.

>> Lawsuit against Allegheny Co. Executive Innamorato aims to stop opening of ballot drop-off locations

In return, DeMarco and the other plaintiffs have agreed to withdraw the lawsuit.

A spokesperson for County Executive Sara Innamorato confirmed that the plan will be presented to the Board of Elections this week.

She anticipates passage as the Board is comprised of Innamorato and Councilwoman Bethany Hallam, who supports drop off locations.

DeMarco called the ruling a victory.

“Now, we can move on to the business at hand which is administering an election, a primary election here and making it free and clear of any bias or perceived partisan taint by involving the public and all three members of the board of elections,” said DeMarco, a republican.

DeMarco filed suit against Innamorato, a Democrat, last week accusing her of violating the election code by failing to get board approval to open five mail-in ballot drop off locations.

>> Allegheny Co. Executive Innamorato to expand ballot drop off; councilman blasts decision

On Monday, just before a scheduled emergency hearing before on Judge, both sides agreed to a consent order that requires the County Executive to get Board approval on drop off locations.

“The parties confirm that for the 2024 Primary Election, as well as for all future elections, the issue of ballot return sites and/or satellite voting sites has been and continues to be within the scope of the Pennsylvania Elections Code...As such decisions on these issues can only be made upon a majority vote of the members of the Allegheny County Board of Elections,” said the consent order.

A spokesperson for the County Executive said the plan will be presented to the Board of Elections on Wednesday.

She expressed confidence that it will be approved and said it will expand voter access.

“The important thing is that we are expanding voter access for the first time in four years, which is a measure that voters are really excited about. Once this matter is approved by the BOE in two days we can move on and make sure voters know their options for voting in the April 23 primary,” said Abigail Gardner,  Allegheny County spokesperson.

DeMarco acknowledged that it will likely pass but said he will now finally get answers to a number of pressing questions about the plan.

“The reason she believes they’re needed, how they’re going to be paid for, security arrangements, all of these different things, the questions that people would normally have and would ask, had this been brought up in a public meeting,” said DeMarco.

The County Solicitor, who signed off on the consent order also issued a statement.

“The Consent Order clearly outlines the terms of the agreement and speaks for itself. The County is always willing to undertake whatever steps are necessary to maintain the integrity of the voting process in Allegheny County, and the Consent Order achieves said goal,” said  Rosalyn Guy-McCorkle,  Allegheny County Solicitor.

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