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Commonwealth Court Dismisses GOP Lawsuit On Ballot Curing Procedures

PA Judicial Center

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania dismissed a lawsuit filed by numerous Republican organizations challenging the authority of the county boards of elections to develop and implement mail-in ballot cure procedures.

In a 33-page ruling from Judge Ellen Ceisler, the court ruled that the case should be dismissed due to the court’s lack of “subject matter jurisdiction.”

In other words, the court does not have the legal authority to address the claims that the Republican plaintiffs brought.

The Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, Republican Party of Pennsylvania and 12 voters had filed a lawsuit against Al Schmidt and Jessica Mathis of the Pennsylvania Department of State and the 67 county Boards of Elections throughout the Commonwealth.

The suit alleged that the Pennsylvania Election Code does not set a procedure for cure and the Legislature has not enacted “any law allowing for a cure procedure” and therefore county boards should not be allowed to implement any cure procedures.

Mail-in ballot curing is the process by which a voter may be notified of a technical mistake with their mail-in ballot and attempt to rectify that mistake.

The lawsuit was originally brought in September 2022 in an attempt to curtail the mail-in voting process in Pennsylvania. Ceisler denied Republicans’ motion for a preliminary injunction and the state Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling in October.

Ceisler’s wrote that “the General Assembly granted jurisdiction to administer and conduct primaries and elections solely within the confines of the respective Counties of the Commonwealth to the County Boards under Section 301(a) of the Election Code. The County Boards’ authority indicates local agency status because it has jurisdiction to administer and conduct elections and primaries within each respective county, not statewide.

“Second, the County Boards are not controlled by the Commonwealth, as the County Boards are governed by the county commissioners under Section 301(b) of the Election Code, and, under Section 302(f) and (g), the County Boards are authorized to make rules, regulations, and instructions necessary for the guidance of, among others, elections officers and electors and to instruct elections officers in their duties. The Court therefore rejects Petitioners’ argument that the County Boards are Commonwealth agencies because they were created by statute; rather, under Blount, it is the degree of Commonwealth control over them that is dispositive.”

“Further, the County Boards are funded by the county commissioners or other appropriating authorities of the county annually under Section 305 of the Election Code, not by the Department or other Commonwealth entity. Thus, although the subject matter of this litigation implicates elections, both local and statewide, which are governed by the Election Code, all signs point to the County Boards falling under the designation of “political subdivision,” suits against which are excluded from this Court’s original jurisdiction under Section 761(a)(1) of the Judicial Code.

“Accordingly, because this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Petitioners’ claims against the 67 County Boards in the absence of the Acting Secretary and Director Mathis, the POs in this regard are sustained, and the Amended Petition is dismissed.”

Chuck Pascal, an election lawyer and chair of the Armstrong County Democrats, said “I believe the decision is correct on the procedural and jurisdictional grounds on which it was dismissed. The down side is that as a result, counties still don’t know what they are permitted to do, and the practices will continue to differ from county to county.

“This is yet another area of election law which has been complicated by bad legislative drafting, and the legislature should amend the law to provide clarity.”

The Department of State is reviewing the Commonwealth Court’s decision and has no comment at this time.

4 Responses

  1. This is as stupid as it gets. Pay attention. Date and sign your mail in ballot. Make sure the date is correct. Even in elementary school you have to date and put your name on papers. It’s not hard. If you are too dumb to do this then perhaps your vote should not count.

  2. Implying that curing a ballot is vote fraud is outrageous. People will make mistakes and voting should not be a “gotcha” process. The assumption should be that the voter is honestly casting a ballot and not trying to commit vote fraud. The Republican position is very cynical and anti American.

    1. I’m a normal just state of affairs that would be true. But it’s mostly Dems committing fraud this way. So we gotta stop it.

      This is just another example of failing to do its job because they’d rather defend government than citizens.

      1. Learn to proofread. BTW, your argument is asinine and backwards. How is it not defending citizens to let them cure a ballot with technical issues? Let the people vote!!!!


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