Multiple lawsuits challenge ballot counting in Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH — Multiple GOP lawsuits are challenging the vote counting process in Pennsylvania.

The most recent case was filed by the Trump Campaign and the Republican Party. Both won the right to observe ballots being counted in Philadelphia.

There had been a camera showing the process, but the Commonwealth Court ruled, effective immediately, Republican poll watchers could be present during the ballot count process. Observers must maintain a six-foot distance and wear a mask, due to COVID-19 concerns. The Democrat Party is appealing the ruling.

11 Investigates reviewed three other key suits filed in Pennsylvania and talked with legal experts to see how it could impact your vote.

Three Key Suits

The first suit was filed against PA Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar in Commonwealth Court in Philadelphia on Election Day. It claims she violated state election law by sending an 11th hour email the night before the election to election officials telling them to notify voters whose mail-in ballots were rejected due to defects.

“There is absolutely nothing in Pennsylvania law that prohibits that practice,” Boockvar said, defending the directive at a news conference. She called it an “opportunity” for all parties and candidates “to choose to contact the voters to let them know that they had a deficiency and that they could vote by provisional ballot.”

But Republican attorney Sean Logue says that new rule is not fair, because it was not executed uniformly. All counties didn’t follow the same process to notify voters and some counties didn’t do it all. He says that violates the equal protection clause under the 14th amendment.

“Every single voter in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania needs to be treated the same—whether you’re in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, or Harrisburg. And some elections boards were doing things differently than others,” Logue said. That is a violation of everybody else’s equal protection."

Montgomery County Suit

The second lawsuit in Montgomery County takes that issue a step further. It says officials there contacted only some voters with defective mail-in ballots and also did it before election day. The suit contends that violates state law which prohibits mail-in ballots from being processed before 7am on election day.

3 Day Extension Suit

A third suit challenges the state’s 3-day extension to accept mail-in ballots if they are postmarked by November 3rd. That case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which essentially decided to hold off on making a decision to see if there will even be enough of those ballots to matter.

“I don’t think this is going to be a huge issue, no matter which way it goes,” Boockvar said, based on the number of mail-in ballots that have come in so far since election day.

All counties in the state have been told to segregate mail-in ballots that come in after Election Day and to keep them secured until after 5 p.m. on Friday to count them.

Logue, however, raised concern about that. He said Republicans have reports that some counties, like Philadelphia, are not keeping those ballots separate, so they won’t be able to exclude them if the Supreme Court rules they should not be counted.

He expects more lawsuits, saying there could be as many as 20 filed in Pennsylvania alone by the time this is all over.