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U.S. Election: Republicans in PA ask court to block county from contacting voters about mail-in ballot mistakes

Republican Party

Republicans have asked a federal court in Pennsylvania’s Eastern District to stop election officials in Montgomery County from contacting voters to correct deficiencies in their mail ballots, CBS News report.

The lawsuit, filed by a GOP congressional candidate and by the chair of the local Republican committee in neighboring Berks County, according to the CBSN report alleges that Montgomery County officials violated the state’s election code by inspecting mail-in ballots for defects in declarations and missing secrecy envelopes, ahead of the start time for pre-canvassing activities.

The suit says doing so “results in the disparate treatment of voters in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment”.

The complaint cites Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court decision that decided the 2000 election, which found that “[h]aving once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person’s vote over that of another”.

The lawsuit also alleges that the county has not given poll watchers the kind of access to the counting of ballots that the law guarantees. It asks the court to stop the county from contacting “any elector whose mail-in ballot or absentee ballot contains perceived and actual defects and allowing the elector to change their ballot”.

Kelly Cofrancisco, a county spokesperson, said the county’s practices comply with the law and indicated the matter could be taken up in court imminently.

“We believe our process is sound and permissible under the Election Code”, Cofrancisco said in a statement. “We understand that the Court may be scheduling a hearing on this matter for later this morning”.

There are over 300,000 registered Democrats and 210,000 registered Republicans in Montgomery County, which voted for Hillary Clinton by a margin of 21 points in 2016.

BY ZAK HUDAK, CBSN

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