PA Supreme Court To Tackle Ballot Dropboxes And Other Vote-By-Mail Disputes

GLEN LYON, PA - MAY 15: A voters exits the Glen Lyon Italian American Sporting Club polling station after casting her ballot during the 2018 Pennsylvania Primary Election on May 15, 2018 in Glen Lyon, Pennsylvania. ... GLEN LYON, PA - MAY 15: A voters exits the Glen Lyon Italian American Sporting Club polling station after casting her ballot during the 2018 Pennsylvania Primary Election on May 15, 2018 in Glen Lyon, Pennsylvania. In the second major May primary day nationwide, four states go to the polls: Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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September 1, 2020 5:05 p.m.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Tuesday that it will hear a lawsuit brought by Democrats seeking to head-off a dispute Republicans have raised about the use of dropboxes for mail ballots and other aspects of how absentee voting works in the state.

The high court had previously agreed to hear a similar case looking to extend Pennsylvania’s deadline for receiving mail ballots, so that absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day but arriving within a few days later will be counted.

The latest case was brought by the state Democratic Party after Republicans, with the Trump campaign, sued in federal court to stop election officials from using dropboxes and to also narrow the rules around absentee voting.

Republicans had also threatened, but ultimately did not carry out, a lawsuit challenging emergency move by Gov. Tom Wolf ahead of June’s primary to let certain counties accept ballots that arrived after the June 3 election, as long as they were postmarked in time.

In addition to asking the court to settle that issue, the Democratic lawsuit wants the court to solidify the state’s residency requirement for poll watchers — something Republicans are trying to loosen — while clarifying that election officials can accept mail ballots missing their secrecy envelopes.

The federal GOP lawsuit hit a road block last month when the judge, a President Trump appointee, said he was going to wait for the state court to address the related cases it had before it. The Republicans have since requested that he issue a preliminary order in their favor.

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