September 17, 2020
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Retiree Demands for Mail Ballots
HARRISBURG – In a significant development in the fight to protect the civil rights of millions of older Pennsylvania voters, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court today ruled that any ballot that is postmarked by election day must count if it is received within 3 days after Election Day.
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agrees that Pennsylvania voters should be able to vote by mail and know that their ballot will be counted,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “This is especially critical for the two million Pennsylvania voters who are over the age of 65 and whose health is most at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pennsylvania seniors need to be able to vote by mail and know that their votes will count.”
The Alliance’s case, Crossey v. Boockvar, was filed April 22, 2020 in Commonwealth Court and included four Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans members who are plaintiffs: Michael Crossey, Dwayne Thomas, Irwin Weinreich, and Brenda Weinreich. In August, the Pennsylvania Attorney General asked the Court for the 3-day ballot receipt extension. Today’s ruling was in a case brought by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and included the proposed relief in the Alliance case.
The Supreme Court also ruled that it is legal to use drop boxes for ballot return, rather than relying solely on the U.S. Postal Service. Pennsylvania counties can now provide multiple ballot boxes in their jurisdiction. This provides another convenient way for older voters to return their ballots.
The Alliance for Retired Americans, working with its state chapters, has filed lawsuits to protect vote by mail and absentee voters in Florida, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, in addition to Pennsylvania this year. The lawsuit is supported by Priorities USA.
Background: The Commonwealth has announced that the number of in-person voting locations will be dramatically reduced from previous elections, which will inevitably mean long waits to vote. A record number of citizens have already requested absentee ballots, significantly increasing the workloads of county election board staff members, who are currently under stay-at-home orders. Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service, which will be relied on to deliver more than a million anticipated ballots, is under severe financial and operational pressure, and may be unable to deliver all voters’ ballots in a timely manner.
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