October 19, 2020

U.S. Supreme Court Denies Republican Effort to Block Measures to Make it Easier for Older Pennsylvanians to Vote During the Pandemic

WASHINGTON – In a significant development in the fight to protect the civil rights of millions of older Pennsylvania voters, the U.S. Supreme Court today rejected Republican efforts to make it more difficult to vote during the coronavirus pandemic. The Court split 4-4, meaning that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s September 17 ruling stands.

As a result of this ruling:

  • Ballots which are postmarked by election day and received up to three days later will be counted; and
  • Pennsylvania counties can now provide multiple ballot boxes in their jurisdictions, providing another way for older voters to return their ballots and protect their health.

“This is an enormous victory for all Pennsylvania voters, especially seniors. Seniors should not have to put their health at risk to cast a ballot that will be counted,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “There are more than two million Pennsylvania voters over the age of 65 whose health is most at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s ruling means that it will be easier for them to vote, not more difficult.”

“The Postal Service told the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that it would not be able to deliver all mail ballots by Election Day,” Fiesta continued. “Voters should not lose their vote for reasons outside of their control.”

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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Contact: Lisa Cutler, lcutler@retiredamericans.org

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