The Chester County Republican Committee (RCCC) filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Chester County Board of Elections, asking the court for an injunction to prevent some changes the board recently enacted and to find that ballots harvested from a long-term care facility are invalid.

In January, the board petitioned to change Phoenixville Borough precincts before the April 23 primary. The GOP was concerned that committee members would not have time to submit petitions to appear on the ballot.

The GOP also learned the county had counted mail-in ballots from residents at a long-term care facility who had one person representing all of them. The mail-in ballot law states an individual may represent only one person in their own household, which does not include a long-term care facility, the lawsuit said. Each resident must designate a different person.

When the GOP asked for proof the long-term care facility had been officially designed as one household, the county admitted there was no proof.

“For decades, both parties’ committee members have acted as poll watchers in their own precincts even when they are running for committee,” the lawsuit said. “The county now claims that committee members are candidates and, therefore, cannot be poll watchers in their own precincts because they would be electioneering the polls.”

County solicitors could not cite language that required the change in the election code, but instead mentioned a 1950 Pennsylvania Supreme Court case out of Philadelphia.

“Importantly, there is nothing in the Supreme Court case that indicates that a candidate is prohibited from being a poll watcher in his (or) her own precinct, and the post that (Philadelphia) candidate was seeking was not identified,” the suit said.

The Republicans “seek this preliminary injunction to enjoin (the county) from promulgating rules and making policy decisions without notice as required by law, from surreptitiously filing legal actions, engaging in ex parte (without the other side present) communications with the court, from including invalid ballots in the vote count and to preserve the status quo by permitting Republican committee members to be poll watchers in the precincts in which they reside and cease from interfering with the RCCC’s right to assign its poll watchers to the precincts they represent.”

The Republicans will “suffer irreparable harm” if the county is permitted to continue to disregard all notice requirements to act in secret, to change the status quo regarding Republican committee members, and to enact rules that adversely affect one party. Also, to count void or invalid ballots, diluting the rest of the votes, the suit said.

Raffi Terzian, chair of the Chester County Republican Committee, said, “Following the November 2023 election, we inquired about a number of election processes and encountered a disturbing lack of transparency and inconsistent responses from county representatives. We were compelled to file this Petition for Injunction in an effort to promote accountability, to help restore confidence in the integrity of the election process by ensuring that the law is followed and so that citizens are provided with appropriate notice of actions taken by county government.”

Rebecca Brain, a spokeswoman for Chester County, declined to comment on the litigation.

Common Pleas Judge Anthony T. Verway is expected to hear the case on Monday since the primary will be held on Tuesday, April 23.

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