PA Elections Board To Sequester Absentee Ballots After Dueling Fraud Claims

October 29, 2010 1:24 pm

After Democrats and Republicans in Bucks County, Pa., accused each other of scheming to steal the election via absentee ballot, the county elections board ruled today that all absentee ballots will be sequestered until after the election.

According to the Allentown Morning Call, the 8,000 (and counting) absentee ballots the county has received will not be counted until after Election Day, and only if the discrepancy between two candidates is smaller than the number of absentee ballots. The county also extended the deadline for casting an absentee ballot to 8 p.m. Tuesday, when the regular polls close.The fight stems from allegations by the county Republican party that the Democrats intimidated voters and forged absentee ballot applications. The local Democratic Party, along with the Rep. Patrick Murphy’s re-election campaign, sent absentee ballot applications to registered Democratic voters. Although the mailings noted that they were paid for by the party, they had an official look to them and were labeled “Pennsylvania Voter Assistance Office.” They also warned that if the application wasn’t mailed in (to a party P.O. box) in time, the voter could lose the ability to vote, prompting more than 100 calls to the board of elections from concerned voters.

The Republicans filed a complaint, and 600 of the ballot applications submitted by the Democratic Party were then thrown out. The Democrats balked and filed a counter-complaint, arguing that their ballots were being rejected without cause. The Murphy campaign alleged that the board of elections — which consists of two Republicans and one Democrat — was accepting Republican applications with small mistakes but throwing out Democratic applications with similar mistakes.

After a hearing this morning, the elections board ruled that the absentee ballots they receive will be sequestered, and that voters whose absentee ballots were rejected can re-apply.

In Pennsylvania, voters requesting absentee ballots must provide a reason for not going to a regular polling place.

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