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GOP Back in Court as Dem PA Sec. of State Ignores SCOTUS Ruling

Republicans are heading back to court to force Pennsylvania Democrats to follow election law and a new U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding ballot security.

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court backed a Pennsylvania law requiring absentee ballots to be dated before being counted, reversing a 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Court opinion. Now the Republican Party at the state and national levels is suing to require Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State to abide by the high court’s decision.

Following a joint lawsuit filed Monday against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for planning to illegally accept undated mail-in ballots, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer, and PAGOP Chairman Lawrence Tabas released a statement.

“As the Pennsylvania legislature and U.S. Supreme Court have made clear, undated mail-in ballots should not be counted. Republicans are holding Pennsylvania Democrats accountable for their brazen defiance of the Supreme Court and the rules duly set by the legislature. Pennsylvania Democrats have a history of election integrity failures and Pennsylvanians deserve better: this lawsuit is the latest step in Republican efforts to promote free, fair, and transparent elections in the Keystone State.”

Supporters of the lawsuit point out that practically every legal document must be dated. Moreover, in at least 17 states, absentee ballots are counted after polls close on Election Day. Another 16 states allow counting to begin on Election Day. And then, says J. Christian Adams with the Public Interest Legal Foundation, there is the issue of basic fairness.

“States need to follow their own election rules.  When they don’t, the losers in elections doubt the fairness of the process,” Adams said.

Democrats insist the court’s ruling does not prevent them from counting improperly-cast ballots. Acting Secretary of State Leigh M. Chapman said county elections officials should still count mail-in votes that arrive in exterior envelopes with inaccurate or nonexistent dates, despite a requirement in state law that they must have them.

And former Hillary Clinton attorney Marc Elias, a leading force behind Democratic efforts to block ballot security policies, said that while the Supreme Court may have ruled the 3rd Circuit’s decision moot, “they didn’t say it was wrong.”

As the fight continues in the Keystone State, the high court’s order has a national impact. It sends a message that Democratic activists and their allies in the judiciary cannot just misuse the Materiality Provision of the Voting Rights Act to attack common safeguards. The 3rd Circuit panel tried to use the provision to strike down what should seem the simplest voting requirement.

Republicans argue this case proves Democrats oppose any ballot security measures by labeling them all forms of voter suppression.

When Georgia passed its voter law in 20201, President Joe Biden described it as worse than the racist abuses of the South’s Jim Crow era (“It’s Jim Eagle!”). And he compared U.S. senators who would not kill the filibuster to pass a federal law overriding Georgia’s rules to segregationist Bull Connor and Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

A Gallup poll this month showed 79 percent of voters support voter ID, with big majorities across demographics.

Most voter fraud convictions are related to mail-in ballots—including those tied to a North Carolina congressional race overturned in 2018 after a ballot harvesting scam was uncovered.

Such voting is particularly vulnerable when ballot harvesting is allowed. It is the practice of political operatives or non-governmental actors collecting and distributing massive quantities of absentee ballots. That opens the door to both voter intimidation and ballot tampering.

“Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud,” the 2005 bipartisan Carter-Baker Commission reported. “The practice in some states of allowing candidates or party workers to pick up and deliver absentee ballots should be eliminated.”

The Republicans who brought the lawsuit point out it was the second time in recent weeks that the RNC has brought litigation to remedy this type of issue. The RNC is involved in 71 cases of election integrity litigation in 20 states this cycle, it says.

“Pennsylvania Democrats’ consistent disregard for the election rules set by the legislature has resulted in Pennsylvania being a national election administration laughingstock.”


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RNC Sues to Ensure Uniform Voting Rules in PA

As the midterm election approaches, the Republican National Committee joined other organizations to sue Pennsylvania for what it calls “unfair” voting practices. The suit argues that because various counties handle ballots with mistakes differently, that results in unequal outcomes for voters.

Some counties will fix or “cure” mistakes and count those ballots, while other counties do not.

“A Pennsylvania voter’s ballot should be treated uniformly, no matter where they reside in the commonwealth,” said Philadelphia lawyer Linda A. Kearns. “This lawsuit seeks to correct a glaring disparity – some counties follow the Pennsylvania election code and do not provide voters a second bite at the apple but some counties improperly look at ballots before election day and contact voters and allow them to correct mistakes. This type of uneven treatment of voters can tip the scales unfairly, especially if it only happens in counties where the majority of voters are Democrats.”

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel released a statement supporting the effort.

“The RNC is joining with the NRSC, NRCC, Pennsylvania GOP, and concerned Pennsylvania voters to sue the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for unequal treatment of its citizens at the ballot box,” McDaniel said. “Pennsylvania Democrats, led by Gov. Tom Wolf, are unconstitutionally flouting the law by failing to adopt uniform rules for how elections in the Keystone State are run.

“This lawsuit will ensure that Pennsylvania voters have confidence in their elections and underscores the Republican Party’s commitment to making it easier to vote and harder to cheat in Pennsylvania and nationwide,” she said.

According to the lawsuit, “The court should restore transparency, fundamental fairness, and integrity to Pennsylvania’s elections by upholding the plain text of the election code and the clear holding of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and declaring that county boards of elections may not adopt cure procedures other than as the General Assembly has expressly provided in the election code.”

Also, “Despite the election code’s plain text and the Supreme Court’s clear holding, and the veto by the governor of the bill enacted by the legislature to implement a cure procedure, several boards, without legal authority, have developed and implemented cure procedures for the 2022 general election and beyond. These boards’ development and implementation of cure procedures exceed the boards’ authority under state law and the election code. These boards have, in effect, usurped the exclusive legislative authority of the General Assembly in contravention of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s holding,” it stated.

The Republicans contend “it is the Pennsylvania legislature’s responsibility to uniformly enact these procedures and for them to apply across the state. The U.S. Constitution is clear that state legislatures should set the rules for how elections are run.”

“Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed and opposed Pennsylvania Republican-led legislation to remedy this issue. Now, a coalition of Republican groups and concerned citizens are stepping in to protect and standardize Pennsylvania elections,” the suit said.

The lawsuit asks the court to issue a permanent injunction to require the boards of election to follow the letter of the law and not to “cure” ballots where voters have made mistakes and then count those ballots


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GIORDANO: Ban No Excuse Mail-in Ballots, Drop Boxes For Fair Elections

One issue that has risen to the top in this election cycle is Pennsylvania Act 77. This act was supported by many Republicans when they agreed to essentially remove any requirement to be able to vote by absentee ballot in exchange for taking away the ability of voters to vote a straight party vote at the flick of one button on election day.

Democrats essentially turned the removal excuses for absentee ballots into the ability to vote by mail in Pennsylvania–no reason required.

State Senators Doug Mastriano and Jake Corman are two of the candidates in the Republican primary for the governor’s race. They have tried to spin this misjudgment by saying Democrats distorted the intentions of Act 77 and gave us the current system that many people believe is much more open to ballot harvesting and election fraud.

In addition to mail-in ballots, Democrats in Pennsylvania approved a drop box system across the state that allows people to deposit ballots that they receive in the mail into secured boxes across the state. The law on this requires that a person may deposit only their own ballot.

On April 4, Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin issued a report that indicated that at least 288 people deposited more than one ballot at five area drop boxes between October 18th and election day, November 2, 2021.

On my radio show, Martin told me that he declined to prosecute anyone because only a few of the 288 people could be identified due to the mask mandate at the time and the poor quality of the video surveillance at the drop box locations. I objected to this approach and told him that much more must be done on this front to ensure that people believe in the results of our elections.

After that conversation, I was pleasantly surprised that my producer was contacted by Martin’s office, and he came on my show to announce three reforms that he was instituting or calling for. First, he wants more precise and prominently placed warnings against depositing more than one ballot to be placed on and around the drop boxes. Second, he wants the drop box at the Lehigh County Government Center to be restricted to “normal” business hours. He wants voters to believe that someone might be watching.

Finally, he will dispatch county detectives in plainclothes to periodically monitor the drop boxes. This last reform has set off some Lehigh County Democratic leaders who say these detectives are intimidating and they have to deduct from their pay for any time spent observing the drop boxes.

I believe this local battle over drop boxes is occurring all over the country and that’s why I watched the debut of Dinesh D’Souza’s new film “2000 Mules,” at an area theater with my listeners. The premise of the film, as presented by D’Souza and True The Vote, is that by using cellphone geo-tracking and surveillance video, they were able to follow a network of “mules “in battleground states collecting ballots from get-out-the-vote outfits and then stuffing them a few at a time in multiple drop boxes, often in the middle of the night.

D’Souza concedes that in Michigan and Wisconsin the “mules” they have observed would not have deposited enough votes to overcome President Joe Biden’s margin of victory. However, he maintains that in Georgia and Arizona, their observations turn up more than enough votes to secure victory for former President Donald Trump in those states.

Incredibly, in Philadelphia alone, he maintains that 1,100 mules averaged 50 drop box visits each giving us 275,000 suspect votes that could have flipped Pennsylvania from Biden to Trump.

The film is well researched and tells the story in great detail. Even if you reject its premise about the numbers of suspect drop box votes, it underlines the need to remove mail-in balloting from our elections or continue to suffer a lack of confidence in election results.

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Frustrated Chester County Residents Demand Election Integrity

Chester County commissioners held a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night. But the topic that dominated was not on the agenda. It was confidence in elections.

Frustration over how Chester County handles the voting process began last November following the 2021 municipal elections. The number of residents showing up to voice their discontent has only grown.

Attendees patiently waited in the Henrietta Hankin Branch Library until the general public comment period. Their main demand? A forensic audit of the 2021 general election.

“This is America,” said Cathy Ingham. “We, the people, demand free and fair elections with no fraud.”

Their lack of confidence in the election results stems from reported issues of USBs not properly reporting ballots, bags of votes being discovered late in the counting, and jammed scanners that reportedly sometimes shredded ballots.

“The problem is we had a dishonest election,” William Jack Shipe told the commissioners.

Michael Taylor, solicitor for the Republican Committee of Chester County, was in the counting room during the general election last year and started voicing concerns then. Since November’s outburst of activism, he detailed progress being made with the county.

“Myself, the Democratic solicitor, and a representative from the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania have been sitting down once a month with the county solicitor and voter services staff to go over the problems we have seen, and try to improve the system,” said Taylor.

But those talks have not led many advocating for electoral reforms to be less angry.

“I feel like I’m asking the fox to secure the henhouse because there’s no reaction from [the commissioners] at all,” said Ingham, describing how commissioners gave little response to the demands for a forensic audit.

Taylor said lingering frustration stems from the lack of an audit. Without it, he says a determination cannot be made whether the election was secure or not. That leaves residents frustrated.

While Taylor said he has made some progress on the audit in discussions with interested parties, movement in the Chester County Democratic Committee appears non-existent.

“The request for a forensic audit is nothing more than an attempt to use an audit to overturn duly certified elections,” Democratic Chair Charlotte Valyo told Delaware Valley Journal in a statement.

Despite the disagreement on the audit, Valyo said there has been more bipartisanship in the creation of new processes to secure elections in the county. “These processes further bolstered the already rigorous election protocols and addressed the concerns submitted by the Republican and Democratic parties,” she said.

Some speakers at the commission meeting recounted anecdotes of their troubles voting. Diane Houser was one of them. In the 2020 general election, she voted in person and returned her incomplete mail-in ballot to prove she could do so. But she recently learned her vote was not counted.

“Hey, how many other people did this happen to?” she asked. “My question is, why were our votes not tabulated after our votes were put in the voting machine.”

Many also voiced concerns about mail-in ballots.

“What did the last three elections have in common?” Christopher Manos asked the crowd. “We all went to bed having decisively won these past three elections. And election victory margins were whittled away by the scam commonly known as mail-in balloting.”

A top priority for county Republicans has been education on mail-in ballots. It is important the base understands the process so therefore they can have confidence in it, Taylor told DVJ in November. Since then, Taylor said, progress has been made.

“I’ve been going around to some of our local areas and just talked to them for five or 10 minutes about how the process works and what you can expect,” he said. “That’s been very productive.” As people learn that mail-in ballots get counted later, they realize it’s not about ballots being pumped into the system, Taylor said.

But other concerns remain besides mail-in balloting. Chief among them are drop boxes. The County Republicans would prefer they are eliminated, but if that cannot happen they support adequate surveillance at sites and more security measures to make sure only each person is casting their own vote.

Top of mind is the upcoming primary elections in May. The goal is to avoid another contentious count, Taylor said, and he believes the election is on track to go more smoothly than last November’s contest.

“The new policies that the voter services have put in place [do] offer more protections,” Taylor said. He added since May is a primary election there’s less concern. The plan is to ‘see what happens in May, and then continue to grow on that.’”

And while Taylor was clear he believed the county and other interested parties had been working together in good faith, he also was clear he is not pleased with the current state of play.

“We need to keep working toward protecting the mail-in ballots and following the rule of law,” he said. “I would say it’s a work in progress and I encourage the board of commissioners and all parties involved to continue to work to better the system.”

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PA Supreme Court Declines to Hear Ballot Case, Miller Sworn-in For DASB Seat

Margie Miller, a Republican, was elected to a seat on the Downingtown Area School Board in November. She was finally sworn in at a meeting on Wednesday, March 2.

The delay was caused by a court challenge by her Democratic opponent, Rebecca Britton, over six ballots.  Last week, the state Supreme Court refused to hear that case. That opened the way for Miller to take her seat on the board.

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling certified my election, and solidified the fact that the people of Region 4 have spoken,” said Miller. “I am very excited to begin working with the other eight directors on the DASD School Board.

“The trajectory of this election and the fact that I am being seated four months after Election Day underscores the necessity of an audit,” Miller said. “Mail-in ballots serve a legitimate need. Their validity is obviously still very much in question.

“My personal hope is that the chain of events following this past election in the school director race may serve to assist a future election decision. I am honored and humbled to have been elected to serve the people of Region 4 in the Downingtown Area School District.”

Michael Taylor, the solicitor for the Chester County Republicans, said the court’s refusal to take up Britton’s appeal meant Miller was certified as the winner.

Taylor previously said a Commonwealth Court panel of judges had correctly “affirmed the decision of the Chester County Board of Elections to disqualify the six ballots.”

While a recent ruling had three different opinions, a majority of the judges ruled the ballots should be thrown out, he said.

Britton said, “The Supreme Court ruling is disappointing. There are 67 counties in Pennsylvania.  If each county can draw arbitrary conclusions regarding which votes can be counted then our democracy is unprotected and fragile. In this case, we will never know who the six votes were cast for and the courts missed an opportunity to create clarity where the law was open to interpretation. This is not a partisan issue; this is an ‘every voter’ issue.”

She added, “I wish Mrs. Miller well during her tenure representing Region 4.”


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Chesco Ballot Problems in the Eye of the Beholder?

So, what happened on Election Day in Chester County? Ballot fiasco or “no big deal”?

Dr. Gordon Eck, chair of the Chester County Republicans, has requested a forensic audit of the November 2 election. He pointed to what he alleges were multiple ballot problems. His Democratic counterpart, Charlotte Valyo, dismissed those concerns and sees no need for further action.

The county Board of Elections is expected to discuss the issue on Tuesday, November 23, after Republican minority Commissioner Michelle Kichline sided with Eck and called for a recount. Residents who are concerned about election integrity have taken to the streets and held protests at the Chester County Courthouse to voice their concerns.

Republican Greg Simotas, who ran for a seat on the Downingtown School Board, was ahead in the vote count on election night. But by Wednesday morning his margin had dropped and eight days later the results showed he had lost at 45 percent to Democrat LeeAnn Wisdom, who ended up with 53 percent. Simotas is not claiming there was fraud. But he says the process of counting the ballots was not smooth and he was disturbed that misplaced ballots were found after the election, among other irregularities. He says an investigation is needed for people’s “peace of mind about the integrity of the election.”

“We need to get to the bottom of what happened,” Simotas said. The process was “inefficient and sloppy.”

A GOP press release outlined the details of alleged irregularities, which included mail-in ballots that were damaged by a machine that opens the mail and then taped together, jammed scanners, a bag of uncounted 265 ballots found days after the election, and problems with UBS computer sticks with votes stored on them.

Kichline sent a letter to her colleagues saying “these irregularities continue and must be fixed.”

“More importantly, the county must clearly identify and correct the failures of its election processes so that all our citizens may feel confident that their votes will be properly counted, recorded, and certified in future elections,” Kichline wrote. “Specifically, we must have answers about the chain of custody for every last vote cast in this election. The voters of Chester County deserve to know that their votes, whether sent by mail or cast in person, were properly handled and counted.”

Eck called the election process “a fiasco.”

“The issue is the process. How do I know my ballot wasn’t taped? What was the chain of custody? There needs to be an investigation. While this election had a 39 percent turnout, what will happen in 2022 when the Senate and governor’s race bring out 69 percent or more? How great is the magnitude of the problem? Election integrity is fundamental to our whole democracy,” Eck said.

But Chester County Democrats have another view.

“The continued insistence by the Republican chair that there were serious problems during this election is not just an effort to undermine confidence in election results, but also casts doubts on the performance of the Republican solicitor,” said Valyo. “Both the Republican and Democratic solicitors were included in all decisions made that affected the ballot counting processes. Both the Republican and Democratic solicitors agreed to the reconciliation process, the scanning process, and the determination that all ballots were secure at all times. Ballots have been counted and the results uploaded to the CCVS website and reported to the Department of State. As always there will be a bipartisan review of all election processes to improve procedures going forward.”

She also thanked everyone who voted and those who work at Voter Services.

“Chester County Voter Services has now uploaded election results that include all in-person, mail-in and absentee, provisional, and military/civilian overseas votes,” said Rebecca Brain, county spokesperson. “Throughout the ballot counting process, Voter Services staff has worked alongside both the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as experts from our voting system vendor, ES&S.  Having identified a discrepancy during the counting of mail-in and absentee ballots late last week, the county identified and isolated the cause of the issue, and recounted the impacted ballots in order to ensure every legally-cast vote was counted. These results remain unofficial until certified by the Board of Elections.”


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Election Marred by Ballot Problems in Montco, Delco Lead to Call for Recount

A red wave has seemingly washed over Pennsylvania, although ballots were still being counted two days after Election Day 2021.

In Bucks County – which drew a 40 percent voter turnout, higher than Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties – GOP members will now head the row offices of sheriff, district attorney, recorder of deeds, prothonotary, and county controller. Patricia Popkik, chairwoman of the Republican Party of Bucks County, isn’t surprised by the GOP’s dominance.

“So many people are awakened, stirred up, and enthused,” Popkik says, adding that her organization trained 150 new poll workers this election. “They’re unhappy with what’s going on in Washington. Voters have made it clear that they want changes.”

Republicans also swept statewide judicial elections, fueling the party’s hope for 2022, in which voters will decide a new governor and a new U.S. senator. After all, the party of the president usually loses seats in Congress in midterm elections, and a Republican has replaced an outgoing Democratic governor in Pennsylvania for the past 60 years.

“The gubernatorial race is very much in play and something Republicans can take as long as Democrat leadership keeps making these ridiculous rules and building these enormous debts,” Popkik says.

In nearby Virginia and New Jersey, Republicans continued to make gains. Glenn Youngkin flipped the governor’s office in Virginia, defeating former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe, and Democratic incumbent Phil Murphy eked out a victory over GOP challenger Jack Cittarelli in a surprisingly close race. Education, specifically a parent’s say in what their child is taught, was a main issue in the Virginia race. Meanwhile, the New Jersey race focused on issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, such as Murphy’s lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccine requirements for teachers.

Considering that President Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 points and New Jersey by 16 points in 2020, those races indicate many voters aren’t satisfied with his first year in office.

“It’s a big win for the rule of law and family values in Pennsylvania, nearby Virginia and beyond, as residents voted for judicial restraint and repudiation of the dangerous and divisive Biden/Harris agenda,” says Gordon Eck, chairman of the Republican Committee of Chester County. “Locally, while the votes are still being counted, our gains appear to be more modest, yet significant at the municipal and school board level in supporting accountability in government and ensuring parents are given their rightful place in their children’s education and health.”

As of 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 3, Montgomery County recorded 35.2 percent voter turnout. Considering the effort the county’s Democratic Party put forth in encouraging residents to participate, from mailing campaigns to knocking on doors, chairman Joe Foster was disappointed by the low turnout.

“We went the extra yard to grind out the vote, but these races never generate the kind of expense that more high-profile races do, and with that expense comes more coverage,” Foster says. “The politics of the country today are so hard, unforgiving and accusatory that even when you make the extra expense and knock on more doors, maybe people are just tired of politics. Maybe there’s voter fatigue out there. I wonder if you can only rev up the base so many times.”

In contrast to the rest of the region, Democrats performed well in Delaware County thanks to hundreds of local candidates and grassroots activists knocking on doors, making phone calls, sending text messages and dropping literature on doorsteps to communicate the importance of this election to voters.

The party is celebrating wins for Delaware County Council candidates Kevin Madden and Richard Womack, Sheriff Jerry Sanders, Controller Joanne Phillips, and Rachel Ezzell Berry for register of wills.

“We have prevailed at the ballot box despite the national trend of voter dissatisfaction,” says Delaware County Democratic Chair Colleen Guiney. “In 2017, Democrats established a strong foothold in county government. In 2019, they won control. But this year, voters have made it clear that Democratic representation is here to stay.”

However, two Republican county chairpersons claim controversy with the election, particularly due to mail-in ballots (primarily used by Democrat voters).

On Wednesday, the Montgomery County Election Results Dashboard indicated 65,968 mail-in ballots had been received by 8 p.m. on Election Day. However, the correct number was approximately 71,000, according to Montgomery County Republican Chair Liz Havey. Additionally, she said the party learned approximately 9,000 of the 20,000 outstanding mail-in ballots were unable to be read by the scanners due to a printing error. As a result, those ballots have to be manually recreated by teams of Republican and Democrat volunteers.

This process is expected to continue through Saturday, Havey says, stressing that official results won’t be ready until the process is complete.

“What’s clear is the mail-in ballot process has led to great confusion and distrust in the system,” she says. “The Montgomery County Election Board and the Department of State must do better and be held accountable.”

Thomas McGarrigle, chair of the Delaware County Republican Party, has gone one step further.  He’s calling on Delaware County to do a voluntary recount of the entire election.

“I’m not a lawyer and don’t know the many intricacies of election law, but I do know that all of the errors the county has admitted that its third-party vendor has caused have imperiled the integrity of the election,” McGarrigle says.

On Nov. 30, there was an emergency hearing to address why more than 600 ballots were mailed to the wrong residents in Delco by ElectionIQ, a third-party vendor hired by the county.

“Let candidates be able to see if they won or lost without having to rely on technology that has repeatedly failed the county and all voters in this election cycle,” McGarrigle says.

“I am calling on the Democratic Party to stand with us as we request the Democrat-controlled government to voluntarily recount these ballots. This is a perfect opportunity to restore trust in government and restore trust and integrity to the electoral process.”

Bucks County Democratic Party Chair John Cordisco and Chester County Democratic Party Chair Charlotte Valyo didn’t return requests for comment.



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Judge Issues Nuanced Ruling in Delco Ballot Case, Keeps Jurisdiction

A request by two Delaware County Republican County Council candidates to keep problematic mail-in ballots separated from the voting poll was rejected as moot by a judge Monday evening. But her nuanced ruling gave some relief to the plaintiffs, in that she agreed to hold a hearing on the issues and kept jurisdiction should additional problems arise.

The dispute centers on ballots that were mailed out to the wrong people or had another voter’s information on the return envelope. Officials also discovered that a vendor mailed some 5,500 ballots after the expected date of Oct. 19, making it unlikely that all of those ballots would be received by the Board of Elections by the Nov. 2 general election.

Council candidates Joe Lombardo and Frank Agovino asked the court to intervene and keep the ballots from being treated like other vote-by-mail ballots. In her ruling, Common Pleas Court Judge Kelly Eckel held that James Allen, director of the Board of Elections, had already taken steps to segregate those ballots so judicial supervision was not needed.

However, she ruled in favor of the petitioners, finding that having two watchers present, one from each party, would ensure that a fair ballot-handling process will be used. Therefore, court-ordered supervision is not needed.

Of the 708 ballots mailed by third-party vendor ElectionIQ of Akron, Ohio, 660 were found to have errors. Allen took steps to make sure they would be handled separately, the judge wrote. In response to the issues,  the county Board of Elections ordered 19,000 provisional ballots in case voters need to cast those at polling locations.

ElectionIQ officials did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Also, ballots that arrive by Nov. 5 will be counted, as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 2, Eckel ruled.  Eckel also kept jurisdiction over any disputes that may erupt during the election.

Both sides were pleased by her ruling.

Michael Puppio, who represents Lombardo and Agovino, said he was “very pleased with the outcome. The judge kept jurisdiction and agreed that the problems existed. I am baffled as to why the county would not stand beside (us) and why they were not more forthcoming. Transparency is the best disinfectant.

The motion was granted in part and denied in part: granted in that a hearing was held; granted in that judge acknowledged the errors of the third-party vendor; granted in that jurisdiction was maintained; granted to the extent that the election board said in court the measures they were taking to sequester ballots and it is now memorialized in the court order; granted in that two additional watchers are permitted to canvas the problematic mail-in ballots.

“(And she) denied in that a judicial overseer was not appointed; denied as to the argument that all 5,500 of the late ballots should be quarantined; denied as to the argument of disparate treatment of voters,” Puppio said.

“One very interesting item that was not really discussed but the judge included it in her finding was an extension of time for three days for ballots to arrive.”

Delaware County Solicitor Bill Martin issued this statement: “As anticipated by the county, Judge Eckel confirmed that the petition filed by the Republican candidates was moot, as the matters complained of had been appropriately remedied by the County Board of Elections. The judge confirmed the role of “watchers” to monitor the count of ballots the County had already agreed to sequester. Finally, the judge extended to 8:00 p.m. on November 5, 2021, the period where the county can tabulate ballots, only as the deadline relates to the small number of ballots that had been re-mailed, or mailed late, as long as the ballots are postmarked on or before Election Day. As to the petitioners’ proposal to take the election out of control of the Board of Elections, and rest such control in the courts, the judge recognized such request as unneeded, since the county was already following the law.

“It was unfortunate that Delaware County Republicans expended significant county resources, and distracted staff from preparing for the election, with this unneeded ‘emergency’ weekend legal process. It is of a recent pattern where the party seeks to drive elections into the courts, instead of seeking to fairly compete at the ballot box,” Martin said.

A spokeswoman for Delaware County emphasized that all votes will be counted.

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